Holy Week is the most sacred and spiritually fulfilling period of our Church year. The events that are celebrated during Holy Week not only changed history, but they also affected the condition of humanity for eternity. We hope and pray that they will also change the souls and hearts of the faithful who aspire to be illumined and inspired by the divine Passion and the holy Resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Ever since our early childhood, we remember with nostalgia how our pure and innocent hearts participated in the divine services. On the Saturday of Lazarus, we were told the narrative of the rising unto life of the friend of Jesus and we helped prepare the Palms.
On Palm Sunday, we welcomed the Lord into the New Jerusalem, the holy Church, and we observed his sorrow that the people he loves so much would persecute Him and torment him brutally. We venerate the icon of the Bridegroom that depicts Christ in the most extreme humility; not as a radiant and well-attired Groom, before the celebration of His wedding, but as a humiliated and tortured “criminal” before His execution. We listen to the melodious words and sounds of the hymns, and especially the hymn of the nun Kassiane, who captivates our hearts and minds with her expression of repentance. We receive the holy unction, for the health of our souls and bodies. We partake the Eucharist at the Last Supper, just like the disciples of the Lord. We share the lamentation of all believers as Jesus walks on Golgotha, and receives torments, humiliations and crucifixion. We observe the burial of Jesus with awe and a trembling heart, and we chant the melodic lamentations. We follow the steps of the myrrh bearers as they find the empty tomb, being the first witnesses of the Lord’s descent into Hades. And we celebrate the feast of feasts, chanting the most glorious and triumphant hymn: “Christ is Risen!” The Resurrection is the event that gives us hope and courage; the Lord defeated death by death, signifying our lives with a sense of true purpose.
The events of Holy Week changed the world. We look forward to realize inner and spiritual changes, a breath of divine grace, to every faithful person who participates consciously in these most glorious events. The Crucifix opens up His arms to embrace all of us, to forgive and to redeem us, to rescue us from the captivity of death and corruption and to save us. The Risen Lord elevates our lives from this world toward a heavenly existence; we can now live and then LIVE, in the eternal glory of His kingdom. The joyful and uncreated Light that emanates from the cave of the tomb, illuminates our Churches, our homes and our hearts every Easter. “Come and receive the light, from the light that never extinguishes.” It is great to allow our children and grandchildren to come and participate in these most sacred services, to observe the magnitude of God’s love and to express their faith. These are the memories that strengthen our faith and our commitment to Christ and His Church. These are the messages that provide us with spiritual nourishment and virtue, to overwhelm the difficulties of everyday life. Every person needs to receive the abundant blessings of Holy Week. They are the golden treasures that will decorate our hearts with values and goodness. We can either taste them, or waste them…
+Protopresbyter Nikiforos Fakinos