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timeline of holy week


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#1 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 06:02 PM

I know that the events of Palm Sunday and then of Holy Thursday thru Sunday of the Resurrection are marked by the days in Holy Week when these actually occurred.

 

But I have often wondered about the timeline of Holy Monday through Holy Wednesday.

 

Are we marking three actual days of Christ's preaching in between Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday? Or are these three days more representational of some greater amount of time that Christ spent preaching in Jerusalem immediately before His Passion commenced?

 

I've often wondered about this because the liturgical structure of these three days is unique.



#2 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 04:55 AM

Dear Father Rapheal,
 
Why not just face the unique reality of the Orthodox Church of the "The lamb of God crucified before the foundation of the world" is in the world but not of the world, so time moves accordingly in anticipation. (This is very much heard and seen (felt) in (byzantine) (Russain) chant). There is anticipation or expecting of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come. Amen.
 
In Christ,
 
Matthew Panchisin

Edited by Matthew Panchisin, 03 April 2015 - 04:58 AM.


#3 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 01:13 PM

Why not just face the unique reality of the Orthodox Church of the "The lamb of God crucified before the foundation of the world" is in the world but not of the world, so time moves accordingly in anticipation.

 

Here my friend we seek to explore the inner meaning of what the Church sets before us- to understand and contemplate the meaning of the pictorial, verbal and liturgical 'icons' that are set before us at every moment of our day as Orthodox Christians. Much of the alternative appears to be Church arguments- but very often they are not. Instead they represent the adoption of what are called in technical language "informal fallacies" especially the ones called 'begging the question' and sometimes 'circular reasoning'. Thus to say it simply- the Church as an active Body did not put three days into Holy Week with a specific set of meanings just because it did. Rather it put these days into Holy Week for a specific purpose, to convey a message which comes across through the texts and the way in which it (the Church) developed its life.

 

I say this because there has been some controversy on the Forum lately over the expression of certain views. For humility's sake though and also basic moral fairness there needs to be a fair playing board so that if one person is discussing something then the other person needs to respond with real discussion themselves (ie exploring and indicating the meaning of the aspect of Church life they are talking about). I say this as a moderator, and priest and friend. We need to do better in this area.

 

OK.

 

Are the first three days of Holy Week then a liturgical compression of what actually occurred?

 

We know from the records that the Church moved from a very short three day fast to a week long fast and after this to various forms of 40 day fasts.

 

We also have evidence that the development of the week preceding Pascha into what is Holy Week took time and that the texts and liturgical structure we use on these days took many centuries for the Church to develop.

 

In other words there was a way over time in which the Church gave each day of Holy Week its own theme and liturgical character which reflects this theme.

 

Looked at in this way then we can see how Palm Sunday, and then Holy Thursday through Pascha fit perfectly into such a Holy Week. But this still leaves out Monday- Wednesday.

 

I'll look into this myself online as I think the questuon can be approach from different angles.



#4 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 01:40 PM

I found this on the Antiochian church website. It seems to be very good. I left out the some of the article that deals with the meaning of themes of each day in Holy Week in present usage. If anyone wants to see this go here:

http://www.antiochia...ek_Services.htm

The Historical Development of Holy Week Services In the Orthodox/Byzantine Rite

By The Very Rev. Nabil L. Hanna


Pastor, St. George Orthodox Christian Church, Fishers, IN


The Paschal fast of Holy Week1 is the most ancient part of the Great Fast.2 It is already well attested by the second century, in conjunction with the rites of Christian initiation through baptism. At first spanning one or two days, the fast lengthened to four and then to a full six already by the third century. With the conversion of Constantine, the ensuing flood of people desiring to enter the Faith and imperial interest in holy places, the fourth century witnessed tremendous development in ritual for Holy Week. This evolutionary process continued in the middle ages and shows itself even in our own time.


Within the New Testament, we see little indication of a preferred time for celebrating baptism. Baptism was understood primarily as a putting off of the old in order to become part of "a society of persons that was in marked contrast to all others."3 The original emphasis was on baptism for the remission of sins and a filling with the Spirit. The stress soon evolved into baptism as a death and resurrection of the individual, as a personal participation in Christ’s
suffering and exaltation.4 As such, Pascha became the normative occasion for baptism. As the numbers of catechumens waned, however, Lent and Holy Week were transformed to a commemoration of past events and to a time of repentance. The attendant rites have, over this course, taken on dramatic elements and a growing sense of sentimentality.


 

The Beginnings: Second and Third Centuries
 

By the second century, the very ‘structure’ of initiation in the early Church included instruction in preparation for baptism. The lengthof this preparation varied and often spanned several years. Then, "As many as are persuaded and believe that these things which we teach are true, and undertake to live accordingly, are taught to pray and ask God, while fasting, for the forgiveness of their sins; and we pray and fast with them"5 for one or two days—Saturday only, or Friday and Saturday—a fast without any food or drink.


By the mid-third century, in many but not all places, the fast had lengthened to six days. Few could have kept a week of total fast. In some places, bread and salt were eaten Monday through Thursday after the ninth hour, then, those who could, kept a total fast Friday and Saturday.6 On Holy Saturday, those who had been elected as being ready for illumination would

 

 meet together as catechumens for the last time. Here they are


"catechized" by undergoing a final exorcism; they renounce Satan, are
anointed with the "oil of exorcism" which has been blessed along with
the chrism the preceding Holy Thursday, and recite the Creed which they
have memorized since hearing it in the fourth scrutiny [on the preceding
Sunday]. They kneel for prayer, and are then dismissed, being told to
go home "and await the hour when the grace of God in baptism shall be
able to enfold you."7


Dionysius of Alexandria, in writing his Letter to Basiliades around 260, provides us the earliest source for an incipient ritual of Holy Week. Dionysius takes great pains to link each day and hour of Holy Week to events in Christ’s passion, sojourn in the tomb and resurrection. The Syriac Didascalia do the same.8 Hippolytus’ Apostolic Tradition (ca. 215) and Cyprian (d. 258) both link the hours of prayer—for Holy Week and throughout the year—with specific events during Christ’s final week.


 

The Formative Age: Fourth Century
 

Cyril of Jerusalem, in the Catechetical Homilies he delivered ca.350, makes no mention of daily commemorations and ritual. The Cross and the Resurrection, for example, were part of a single, united celebration on Saturday night, for which the six days of fasting were simply preparation. Friday did not yet specifically commemorate the crucifixion.9 But the "current of the times"10 in the fourth century was a historicizing one: eschatological notions were giving way to historical commemoration.


From Jerusalem comes innovation. By the time a pilgrim from Spain named Egeria visited, between 381-385, when this same Cyril was in his final years as bishop of the Holy City, there had evolved unmistakable correlation between passion events and the services for each day. Egeria was able to describe the rites in great detail in her diary. The close proximity of the actual sites where the events of our Lord’s passion took place, and the influx of pilgrims, no doubt suggested visiting and venerating at those locations. Dix condenses well Egeria’s diary, showing "a fully developed and designedly historical series of such
celebrations in which the whole Jerusalem church takes part:"11


It begins on Passion Sunday with a
procession to Bethany where the gospel of the raising of Lazarus is
read. On the afternoon of Palm Sunday the whole church goes out to the
Mount of Olives and returns in solemn procession to the city bearing
branches of palm. There are evening visits to the Mount of Olives on
each of the first three days of Holy Week, in commemoration of our
Lord’s nightly withdrawal for the city during that week. On Maundy
Thursday morning the eucharist is celebrated (for the only time in the
year) in the chapel of the Cross, and not in the
Martyrium; and
all make their communion. In the evening after another eucharist the
whole church keeps vigil at Constantine’s church of Eleona on the Mount
of Olives, visiting Gethsemane after midnight and returning to the city
in the morning for the reading of the gospel of the trial of Jesus. In
the course of the morning of Good Friday all venerate the relics of the
Cross, and then from noon to three p.m. all keep watch on the actual
site of Golgotha (still left by Constantine’s architects open to the sky
in the midst of a great colonnaded courtyard behind the
Martyrium)
with lections and prayers amid deep emotion. In the evening there is a
final visit by the whole church to the Holy Sepulchre, where the gospel
of the entombment is read. On Holy Saturday evening the paschal vigil
still takes place much as in other churches, with its lections and
prayers and baptisms….


Visitors like Egeria carried back to their native lands the memory of what they had experienced in Jerusalem and tried to emulate it in their own liturgical practices. Thus historical commemorations and stational liturgies spread quickly throughout the Christian world, for both Holy Week and the rest of the year. For example, because of the unique situation in Jerusalem, where multitudes of pilgrims descended, they would occupy the church all night in order to have a place for matins, and similarly for the other hours of prayer. Thus, in order to keep the people occupied, services and hymns were celebrated continuously. Clearly it was impossible for the bishop to preside around the clock, so services would begin without the bishop, who would then make an
entrance some time later. This practice was imitated in many places, such that ever since the latter part of the fourth century the entrance of the bishop/clergy for vespers, Liturgy, etc., has moved from the opening of the service to some point later, for Hly Week and throughout the year!


Also noteworthy is that in the fourth century there developed a consensus that the full celebration of the Eucharist, always a joyful event, was inconsistent with the austerity of the fast. Instead, vespers with Communion was instituted on Wednesdays, Fridays and saints’ days,12 though Egeria declines to attest to the practice of presanctified Communion during Holy Week during the time of her visit.


 

The Studite Revisions: Ninth through Fifteenth Centuries
 

In the ninth century, two learned brothers at the Monastery of Studios in Constantinople—Theodore the Studite and Joseph the Studite, Archbishop of Thessalonica—created a work called the Triodion.13 Covering the period from three Sundays before the start of Lent through Pentecost, including, of course Holy Week, they compiled and composed original hymnography, seeking to bring a return to biblical roots, particularly the Psalms and the Old Testament.14 In doing so, the Studites furthered the earlier historicizing trends and nearly obliterated baptismal themes from Lent and Holy Week texts. Their emphasis was on commemorating salvation history and drawing out ethical and ascetical teachings.


Much of their material originated in Palestine in the sixth through eighth centuries, especially from the great Lavra of St. Sabas Monastery. They intended the Triodion for monastic communities. They had no catechumens. Even in the "world" by that time only infants remained to be baptized. Partly for this reason and partly because of the general influence monastics were gaining in the Church, especially in the area of spiritual direction, the monastic rites of the Triodion began replacing the cathedral rite in the twelfth century. By the fourteenth century, the process was complete.15


Within the basic structure of the Triodion, additional hymnography was inserted up until the fifteenth century—obviously an abrupt terminus at the fall of Constantinople. It is only at the end of the 14th and beginning of the 15th centuries, for example that the popular enkomia16 of Matins for Holy Saturday first appear.17


It must be noted that all printed editions of the Triodion are incomplete. They represent only a selection of the material in the manuscripts, "and many of the unpublished texts are of a high standard artistically and spiritually."18



#5 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 01:59 PM

It must be noted that all printed editions of the Triodion are incomplete. They represent only a selection of the material in the manuscripts, "and many of the unpublished texts are of a high standard artistically and spiritually."18

One of these missing texts is the very beautiful canon in the voice of the Theotokos over the grave of Christ on Holy Friday.

 

Fortunately we have it in English in The Lenten Triodion trans Kallistos Ware on p 617



#6 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 03:22 PM

Dear Father Raphael,

 

If my memory services me correctly Saint Seraphim greeted people at every time of the year with Christ is Risen, conveying a message. I don't know how appropriate that is

to this discussion though, I might be misunderstanding what you are saying severely.

 

Please forgive me and have a blessed holy week. I apologize for all my errors or if any of my comments have disturbed anyone.

 

 

In Christ,

 

Matthew Panchisin


Edited by Matthew Panchisin, 03 April 2015 - 03:36 PM.


#7 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 04:01 PM

How about if we say: "Yes- Father. I see what you're saying."
:)

 

Here I should add that what I said was not meant to be severe but rather as coming from one of the moderators, to be pointed.

 

In this area that I described above we all can do better and that would help in maintaining a high Orthodox ideal in our discussions.






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