The following lessons are those for this Wednesday. Tonight for Bible Study, we’ll be going through Easter Vigil readings, wonderful passages that take us from Creation to Resurrection.
Wednesday in Holy Week
March 27, 2013
Psalm 70 (1)
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, your Son our Savior suffered at human hands and endured the shame of the cross. Grant that we may walk in the way of his cross and find it the way of life and peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
May I never boast of | anything
except the cross of our Lord | Jesus Christ. (Gal. 6:14)
Mid-week–Holy Week, a time of entering the door to the Three Days. Someone asked me recently about the origin of Holy Week. It’s believed to have originated in Jerusalem during the time St. Cyril was Bishop. It’s not clear whether the rituals developed in Jerusalem or were borrowed, but we have a description of them in the journals of a Spanish woman pilgrim: Egeria, c. 380 ACE. Below is some of what she described, on the Saturday before Palm Sunday. There’s more, but then you’d be reading all day.
HOLY WEEK AND THE FESTIVALS AT EASTER
1. Saturday before Palm Sunday.—Station at Bethany.
Now when the seventh week has come, that is, when two weeks, including the seventh, are left before Easter, everything is done on each day as in the weeks that are past, except that the vigils of the sixth weekday, which were kept in the Anastasis during the first six weeks, are, in the seventh week, kept in Sion, and with the same customs that obtained during the six weeks in the Anastasis. For throughout the whole vigil psalms and antiphons are said appropriate both to the place and to the day.
And when the morning of the Sabbath begins to dawn, the bishop offers the oblation. And at the dismissal the archdeacon lifts his voice and says: “Let us all be ready to-day at the seventh hour in the Lazarium.” And so, as the seventh hour approaches, all go to the Lazarium, that is, Bethany, situated at about the second milestone from the city.
And as they go from Jerusalem to the Lazarium, there is, about five hundred paces from the latter place, a church in the street on that spot where Mary the sister of Lazarus met with the Lord. Here, when the bishop arrives, all the monks meet him, and the people enter the church, and one hymn and one antiphon are said, and that passage is read in the Gospel where the sister of Lazarus meets the Lord. Then, after prayer has been made, and when all have been blessed, they go thence with hymns to the Lazarium.
And on arriving at the Lazarium, so great a multitude assembles that not only the place itself, but also the fields around, are full of people. Hymns and antiphons suitable to the day and to the place are said, and likewise all the lessons are read. Then, before the dismissal, notice is given of Easter, that is, the priest ascends to a higher place and reads the passage that is written in the Gospel: When Jesus six days before the Passover had come to Bethany, and the rest. So, that passage having been read and notice given of Easter, the dismissal is made.
This is done on that day because, as it is written in the Gospel, these events took place in Bethany six days before the Passover; there being six days from the Sabbath to the fifth weekday on which, after supper, the Lord was taken by night. Then all return to the city direct to the Anastasis, and lucernare takes place according to custom.” (From: http://www.earlychurchtexts.com/public/egeria_holy_week_easter.htm)
The rites were revived in a big way in the 20th century, through liturgical renewal in catholicism and protestant church communities.
Here on Cape Ann, this Wednesday is a beautiful spring day, forerunner of the beauty of resurrection life.
Blessings on your day, PA