Introduction to Holy Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
The first part of Holy Week presents us with an array of
themes based chiefly on the last day's of Jesus' earthly life. "The
story of the Passion, as told and recorded by the Evangelists, is
preceded by a series of incidents located in Jerusalem and a collection
of parables, sayings and discourses centered on Jesus' divine sonship,
the Kingdom of God, the Parousia, and Jesus' castigation of the
hypocrisy and dark motives of the religious leaders."
The Orthros Services of Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
is called the Service of the Bridegroom, and gets its name from the
central figure in the well-known parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew
25.1-13). "The title Bridegroom suggests the intimacy of love. It is not
without significance that the Kingdom of God is compared to a bridal
feast and a bridal chamber. The Christ of the Passion is the Divine
Bridegroom of the Church. The imagery connotes the final union of the
Lover and the beloved. The title Bridegroom also suggest the Parousia.
Each day of Holy Week has its own particular theme. The
theme of Monday (celebrated in anticipation on Palm Sunday evening) is
that of the barren fig tree (Matthew 21: 18-20) which yields no fruit
and is condemned. On Tuesday (celebrated Monday evening) the theme is on
the vigilance of the wise virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13) who, unlike their
foolish sisters, were ready when the Lord came to them. On Wednesday
(celebrated Tuesday evening) the focus is on the sinful woman (Matthew
26: 6-13) who repents. Great emphasis is made in the liturgical services
to compare the woman, a sinful harlot who is saved, to Judas, a chosen
apostle who is lost. The one gives her wealth to Christ and kisses his
feet; the other betrays Christ for money with a kiss.
- Make a point to attend services with your children.
- Make time to read the "theme" gospel lessons before
coming to services, since they are not part of the Gospel reading, but
only referred to during the service.
- Speak with your children about Christ's second
coming, ie. that "He will come again" as we recite in the Nicene Creed.
Jesus reminds us during the first three days of Holy Week, as was done
on many occasions during Lent, that we must be watchful and repent while
there is still time.
Holy Tuesday – (Celebrated on Holy Monday Evening)
Behold, the Bridegroom sets forth in the dead of night. And
blessed is that servant whom he shall find on watch; unworthy the one he
shall come upon lazing. See to it, soul, that sleep does not overtake
you, lest you be given up to death and be shut out of the kingdom.
Bestir yourself, then, and sing out: “Holy, holy, holy are You, our
God; through the prayers of the Theotokos, save us.
Soul, mindful of your final hour, and dreading the fate of
the fig tree, cultivate with diligence the talent you were given.
Endure, be vigilant, and say: “May we not be shut out of the bridal
Why so indifferent, miserable soul? Why do you appear
heedless and uncaring at such a time? Why do you busy yourself with
transient things? The end time is upon us, and we shall soon be parted
from earthly concerns. While you yet have time, turn sober and confess:
“I have sinned against You, my Savior, do not cut me down like the
barren fig tree, but as the compassionate Christ have pity on me as I
cry out in awe: ‘May we not be shut out of the bridal chamber!’
On Holy and Great Tuesday we remember the parable of the ten virgins from the Holy Gospel.
This greatest of Tuesdays brings to mind ten virgins, bearing the victory of the just Master.
O bridegroom Christ, count us among the prudent maidens, and include us in Your chosen flock, showing mercy on us. Amen.
I see Your bridal chamber all bedecked, my Savior; but I have
no fit garment to venture in. O giver of Light, make radiant my soul’s
attire, and save me.
How shall I, so unworthy, come into the splendor of Your
saints? If I dare to enter the bridal feast, my clothing will disgrace
me since it is not a wedding garment. Then I shall be bound and cast
out by the angels. In Your love, Lord, purge my soul and save me.
I have succumbed to spiritual torpor, O bridegroom Christ,
and hold no lamp alight with virtue. I am like the foolish virgins,
wandering about when it was time to act. Master, do not seal against me
the wellsprings of Your pity; but rouse me to shake off the gloom of
sleep, and lead me with the prudent maids into Your bridal chamber.
Here the clear song of the revelers can be heard, singing ceaselessly,
“Lord, glory to You!”
Soul, you have heard the sentence pronounced on him who hid
his talent, so do not bury God’s word. Rather, proclaim His wonders,
so that abounding in grace, you may enter into the joy of your Lord.
Come, faithful, let us labor with zeal for the Master. For
He shares out His wealth to His stewards; as each is able, then, let us
augment the talent of grace. One will embellish wisdom with good works;
another will perform a splendid liturgy. The believer will convey the
word to the uninitiate, while yet another will distribute wealth to the
indigent. Thus shall we increase what is ours in trust, and as stewards
of grace merit the Master’s joy. O Christ, as loving God, deem us
worthy of this joy!
Jesus, when You come in glory with angelic hosts, and sit
on the Judgement Seat, do not separate me, Good Shepherd. You know the
ways of those on the right; those on the left are perverted. Hardened
though I am in sin, do not condemn me to perish with the goats, but
numbering me among the sheep at Your right hand, save me in Your love.
Bridegroom, comeliest of all men, You have invited us into
Your spiritual wedding feast. Through sharing in Your sufferings, strip
away the tattered raiment of my sins and, clothing me in the splendor
of Your beauty, make me a radiant guest of Your kingdom as loving God.
On Great Tuesday the Church calls to remembrance tow
parables, which are related to the Second Coming. The one is the
parable of the Ten Virgins (Mt 25.1-3); the other the parable of the
Talents (Mt 25.14-30). These parables point to the inevitability of the
Parousia and deal with such subjects as spiritual vigilance,
stewardship, accountability and judgement.
From these parables we learn at least two basic things.
First, Judgement Day will be like the situation in which the bridesmaids
(or virgins) of the parable found themselves: some ready for it, some
not ready. The time one decides for God is now and not at some
undefined point in the future.
The tragedy of the closed door is that individuals close
it, not God. The exclusion from the marriage feast, the kingdom is of
our own making. Second, we are reminded that watchfulness and readiness
do not mean a wearisome, spiritless performance of formal and empty
obligations. Most certainly it does not mean inactivity and
slothfulness. Watchfulness signifies inner stability, soberness,
tranquility and joy. Watchfulness is the deep personal resolve to find
and do the will of God, embrace every commandment and every virtue, and
guard the intellect and heart from evil thoughts and actions.
Watchfulness is the intense love of God.