Holy Thursday Evening
Christ: Nailed to the Cross; His right side is pierced and the wound flows with blood and water.
The Theotokos: The figure on the left depicted with a halo.
Three women depicted together with the Theotokos:
Saint John the Beloved Disciple: The figure on the immediate right of the cross.
Saint Longinus the Centurion: The figure on the extreme right; he is the Roman centurion mentioned in Saint Mark's Gospel account of the Crucifixion (Mark 15:39).
The Inscription on the top bar of the Cross is the inscription I.N.B.I., the initials of the Greek words meaning "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews."
The Skull: At the foot of the Cross; Golgotha, the Mount of the Cruci-fixion, means 'the place of the skull." Tradition relates that the Cross of Christ stood directly above the grave of Adam.
- John 13:31-38; 14-18:1
- John 18:1-28
- Matthew 26:57-75
- John 18:28-40; 19:1-16
- Matthew 27:3-32
- Mark 15:16-32
- Matthew 27:33-54
- Luke 23:32-49
- John 19:25-37
- Mark 15:43-47
- John 19:38-42
- Matthew 27:62-66
As the glorious disciples, in the washing of the feet, were enlightened, the profane Judas, ravaged by greed, was benighted. And to the lawless judges he surrenders You the just judge. Consider, you who love money, the one who hanged himself for the sake of it. Shun the insatiate heart that could dare such a deed against the Teacher. Lord, benevolent above all humans, glory to You.
Selected Hymns from the Antiphons:
Let us present our senses purified to Christ, and as His friends, let us offer our lives to Him; not, like Judas, overwhelmed by worldly concerns, but I the quiet of our chambers crying out: "Our Father in heaven, deliver us from the Evil One."
Judas ran to the lawless Scribes, saying, "What will you give me, and I will deliver Him to you." Meanwhile, unseen, You stood among those mailing agreement, invisibly contracted for. Diviner of hearts, have pity on our souls.
As you fed the disciples at the supper, knowing the pretext for the betrayal, You accused Judas openly. You saw he was beyond redemption, but meant for all to know that You were willingly surrendered, to snatch the world from the enemy’s grasp. Long-suffering Lord, glory to You.
Today Judas forsakes the Teacher to embrace the devil. Blinded by passion for money, the benighted man falls from the light. How could he see, having sold out the light-giver for thirty silver coins? But He Who suffered for the world’s sake, has become our daybreak. To Him we cry: "Glory to You, for You suffer for and with mankind."
Today Judas watches for his chance to betray the Lord, the One Who is the world’s Redeemer from before all ages; the One Who with but five loaves fed the multitudes. Today the wicked one denies the Teacher; though once a disciple, he surrendered the Master. For silver he bartered away the One who nourished the people with manna.
Today the Lord’s own people nailed to the Cross the One who divided the sea with a staff and led them through the wilderness. The One Who visited the plagues on Egypt for their sake they pierced with a lance to His side. The One Who rained the manna on them for nourishment they offered gall to drink.
What was it, Judas, that turned you into the Savior’s betrayer? Did He separate you from the Apostles’ fellowship? Did He withhold from you His healing grace? As you all supped together, did He banish you from the table? When He washed the feet of the others did He overlook yours? Oh, how many blessings you have forgotten! Thus your ingratitude will be inscribed in history, while His unimaginable forbearance and great mercy will forever be proclaimed.
He Who is clothed with light as with a garment, stood naked on trial; He was struck on the cheek by hands He had shaped. When the lawless people nailed to the Cross the Lord of glory, the veil of the temple was rent and the sun went dark, unable to witness God blasphemed, before Whom the universe trembles. Him let us worship.
Thus says the Lord to His countrymen: "My people, what have I done to you or how have I disturbed you? I gave light to your blind; your lepers I cleansed; a bedridden man I raised up. My people, what have I done for you, and how have you repaid Me? In place of the manna you gave Me gall; instead of water, vinegar; instead of loving Me you nailed Me to the Cross. No longer than can I endure. I will summon to Me the nations and they will glorify Me, together with the Father and the Spirit. And to them will I grant eternal life."
Lord, the assembly demanded of Pilate that You be crucified. And though they could find no charge against You, they released the guilty Barrabas and You, the righteous One, they condemned, thus assigning to themselves the crime of murder. Then render to them, O Lord, their just reward, for they brought false charges against You.
Today He who suspended the earth amid the waters is suspended on the Tree. (3x)
The King of the heavenly hosts wears a crown of thorns. The One who clothed the heavens in clouds, is wrapped in mock purple. He who freed Adam in the Jordan, is buffeted with blows. The bridegroom of the Church is transfixed with nails. The virgin’s Son is pierced with a lance.
We worship Your passion, O Christ. (3x)
Show us now Your glorious resurrection.
Because of a tree Adam became an alien from Paradise; because of the Tree of the Cross, the thief came to dwell in Paradise. The one by eating broke the commandment of his Maker; the other, crucified with You, confessed God Who was concealed. Remember us also, O Savior, in Your Kingdom.
An outstanding and unique feature of this service is that it contains a series of twelve Gospel readings. The twelve Gospel lessons are read at various intervals throughout the lengthy service. The first pericope, from the Gospel of John (13.21-18), relates the account of the Lord’s discourse with the disciples at the Mystical Supper. The next ten Gospel readings deal with accounts of the Lord’s sufferings as they are told in the Gospels. The last pericope gives an account of the Lord’s burial and the sealing of the Tomb. The response after each gospel reading is a variation of the usual one: "Glory to Your forbearance, Lord, Glory to You." The focus of our praise is the long suffering of our God. This distinct liturgical formula signifies the deep reverence with which we approach the awesomeness of the divine condescension.
Another striking feature of this service is the solemn procession with the large Cross of the sanctuary. After the fifth Gospel, the priest brings the Cross out of the sanctuary in a solemn procession and places in the middle of the Church.
Saturday before Nativity
Forefeast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; Ignatius the God-Bearer, Bishop of Antioch; Our Righteous Father Philogonius, Bishop of Antioch; Holy Father John of Kronstadt; John the New Martyr of Thassos
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Sunday before Nativity
Κυριακή προ της Χριστού Γεννήσεως
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