Please Remember in Your Prayers

Archpriest Michael Hatrak; Deacon Michael Bishop; Mat. Myra Kovalak; Mat. Klavdiya Burbelo; Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green; Nun Elizabeth; Nun Magdalena; Mat. Natalia Kosich; Priest Gregory and    Mat. Diane Winsky; Mat. Catherine Kowalchik; Marie Vass; Charles Snipes; Arthur-Stephen Lisowsky; Yelena Radchenko; Lydia Zorina; Tatiana; Katherine Plaskowitz; Philip Plaskowitz; Bernadine Borawick; Julia Aymold; Lilli Ann Hoffman; Lara Marinich; Oleg Marinich; Ioann and Galina Zernetkin; Monika-Anastasia & Stephanie Handley; Blanche-Julia Stolkovich; Ekaterina Koroleva; Nina Lewis; Maryann Black; Lyudmila, Anton & Aleksander Karnup; John Alexander Bylen; Katherine Garrett; Stephen Kaminitsky; John-Thomas Planinshek; Kenneth Pukita; William and Ann Ferkile; Sergei Krektyshev; Irina Kononova; Petr and Lyudmila Borodkin; Anthony Bakie; Svetlana & Aleksey; Nina; Alla; Anna; Alla; Raisa, Zinaida; Joseph Germano; Pavel, Vladimir, Valentina, Nina, and Maria; Maria Pappas; Bonnie Duke; Joseph Lacomy; Diana Radchenko; Aleksey & Lidia Potapov; Oleg and Andrei; Vitaliy, Tatiana, Olena & Nicholas Berchuk; David, Selina-Sophia, John, Maryann, David, Joseph, Lisa Ann Eichelberger; Cynthia and Bill (Basil) Popomaronis; Andrei, Marina, Valentina and Vladimir; Archpriest Cezar, Mat. Christina, Cezara–Maria, Darius, Justina, Christian; Victoria Lardiero; Richard Wright; Valentina Shultieva; Shanna, Stephen, Trent-Michael, Grant-Alexander, Adalynn Lisowsky; Julie Smith; Tayisia Solvieva; Lubov Pavuk; Leonid and Zoya; James McAteer; Jayne Sudol; Rita and Richard Herber; Svetlana, Mary Orzolek, Shane-Michael Sierakowski; George Matassov; Janice DesLauriers; John DesLauriers.

 

 

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Bulletin

Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem

Palm / Pussywillow Sunday

April 8/21, 2019 

 

Holy Apostles of the Seventy: Herodion, Agabus, Asyncritus, Rufus, Phlegon, Hermes, and those with them (1st c.); Holy Hierarch Niphont, Bishop of Novgorod (1156); Venerable Rufus the Recluse of the Kiev Caves (14th c.); Martyr Pausilippus of Heraclea in Thrace (117-138); Holy Hierarch Celestine, Pope of Rome (432); Hieromartyr Sergius, priest (1933).

 

We magnify Thee, O Lifegiver Christ, and we sing Hosanna in the highest, 

Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord

 

 

 

Today’s Scriptural Readings:     

Philippians 4: 4-9   /   John 12: 1-18

Fr. John’s Sermons (Video): Click here  

 

Troparion, Tone 1

By raising Lazarus from the dead before Thy Passion, Thou didst confirm the universal resurrection, O Christ God! Like the children with the palms of victory we cry out to Thee, O Vanquisher of Death: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!

 

Troparion, Tone 4

When we were buried with Thee in Baptism, O Christ God, we were made worthy of eternal life by Thy Resurrection! Now we praise Thee and Sing: Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!

 

Kontakion, Tone 6

Sitting on Thy throne in heaven, carried on a foal on earth, O Christ our God, Accept the praise of angels and the songs of children, who sing: Blessed is He that comes to recall Adam!

 

 

 

Divine Services at Holy Trinity are live-streamed at 

https://www.youtube.com/user/HolyTrinitySermons

 

 

Special Petitions for the Unity of the Orthodox Church

Again we pray to the Lord and our Savior to preserve the Orthodox Church abiding in the whole world in unity and right belief, and to grant her peace and tranquility, love and consent, let us all say, Lord, hearken and have mercy.

 

Again we pray to look upon the Holy Orthodox Church with the goodness of heart and with mercy, and to preserve her from divisions and schisms, from hostility and disorder, so her unity will not be diminished or shaken, but Thine Thrice-Holy name be glorified in her, let us all say, Lord, hearken and have mercy.

 

Please join us for coffee hour after services

Sponsors for today: Yelena Radchenko and Valentina Zernetkina

Larisa Hidar and Elena Shultieva

 

Special Collection for Pascha Flowers

Today, Sunday, April 21st we’ll have a 2nd collection to help cover the cost of our Paschal Flowers.

 

Come to Confession Before Holy Unction and Bright & Holy Pascha

Throughout this Great Fast we frequently call upon God to forgive us our sins.  We come to confession with faith and love that our Lord Himself will wipe away our transgressions.  Having received forgiveness at Holy Confession, we are cleansed so that we may partake of Holy Communion and behold His glorious Resurrection. And likewise, we approach our Lord, in the Mystery of Holy Unction, asking Him to heal us of our illnesses of body and soul.  And so, we come to Confession and worthily prepare for Holy Unction (4/24) and the Feast of Christ’s Holy Resurrection (4/28). We confess our sins so our Lord may heal us.

 

Purchase Homemade Kolbasa for Pascha

Submit your kolbasa orders to Albert Blaszak 410-799-3226 or alb42@verizon.net.

This is the same as we make for the Festival. Order some in time for Pascha.

 

Challenge Grant – Matching Donations

Three families in our parish have pledged to match all donations for the flooring and altar icons on a 1:1 ratio. For every dollar you donate, they will match one dollar, up to $30,000, towards the Church Restoration Fund.  Double the value of your donation:  $20 becomes $40, $50 becomes $100, and $100 becomes $200! Special donation forms are on the candle stand in the vestibule of the church.

 

 

Centennial Mission Statement:  Giving thanks to God, we the faithful of Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, with sincere gratitude recognize the sacrifices and accomplishments of our founding Fathers and Mothers most especially at this time of our centennial celebration.  With faith and love we reach out to our community, giving witness to the Orthodox faith and traditions which have stood the test of time, and we prayerfully work to build upon the foundation for future generations.  To God belong Glory.  Amen.

 

 

Centennial Celebration – May 4, 2019

With the blessing of His Grace MATTHEW, Bishop of Sourozh, Interim Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, we announce the Annual Bright Saturday Hierarchal Divine Liturgy and 100th Anniversary Celebration of our parish to take place on Saturday, May 4, 2019. After the Divine Liturgy we will conduct a catered reception in the church hall. All tickets must be purchased online: https://holytrinity100.eventbrite.com. If you need assistance, please contact Tania Masiuk 443-742-7048 tania_masiuk@yahoo.com or Natalie Burbelo 443-567-6031 nbsf49@verizon.net. 

 

Centennial Commemorative Book – Last Day Today

In commemoration of our Centennial, we will publish a special Commemorative Book that will feature an extensive history of the parish, current and historical photographs and congratulatory greetings from churches, parishioners, friends and businesses. Please help make the commemorative book complete by purchasing a page in the book to offer your congratulations. Contact Michael Mickel 410-666-2870 mcmickel@verizon.net. 

 

*  Our  kitchen  needs  onion  peels  *

Please bring to our kitchen your onion peels – any type. We need them to color Paschal eggs.

 

Holy Saturday, April 27th

On Holy Saturday, the Sunday School students will each read at least one Old Testament reading

during the Vesperal Liturgy. Come to church for this very beautiful and unique service.

 

Paschal Breakfast 

After Paschal Divine Services, the Parish Council President will organize a Paschal Breakfast in our church hall. This event is popular because so many faithful bring a dish or two to share with everyone – meats, salads, cheeses, breads, fruits, desserts, etc. Please inform Anna-Zumrat Shkurba what dishes you can bring.  Donations of soda, wine and beer are also needed.  Eggs and Ham will be supplied. By 11:15 PM Saturday evening, please bring your food items all ready to serve in bowls and/or platters. There will be no time or volunteers to help prepare or dish out your food in the hall kitchen. It must be ready to serve. 

 

Paschal Lunch at Cathedral Gardens

Come to our Pavilion at Cathedral Gardens on Pascha Sunday at 3:00 PM to enjoy an informal pot-luck lunch as we continue to celebrate Pascha – 6480 Elibank Drive, Elkridge, MD. Bring some food to share. Then, we’ll proceed to the chapel for the Agape Vespers service at 6:00 PM. The Gospel will be read in different languages.

 

Church School Camping Trip – May 17-19, 2019

The 19th Annual Church School Camping Trip at Camp Running Bear in Monkton, MD for children ages 6-12 will take place May 17-19. Our theme is “The Path of the Holy Cross.” Registrations due by May 1st. Registration forms are on the bulletin table. Contact Dr. Pat Disharoon pdisharoon@aol.com  410-233-5337. *Important*, all adult chaperones/volunteers MUST register with Dr. Pat by May 1st to for background checks.

 

Church Clean-Up + Hall Set Up:  Thursday, May 2

On Thursday, May 2nd at 7:00 PM we will clean the church and hall for the Centennial Celebration.

We need additional volunteers to help cleaning groups #2 & #3. Info: Natalie Burbelo 443-567-6031 nbsf49@verizon.net.

 

New Cleaning Group – Groups #2 & #3 /  Join a Group – Help your brothers and sisters

Group #2 & #3 will clean Bright Week April 29 – May 2.  Group #2: Natalie, Andrei Burbelo and family, Elena Terekhina and Valentina Bosaya AND Group #3: Anca & Catalin Frujinoiu, Kyrana Tsapkini, Tiberiu and Marie Christine Onuta.  Please join a group. We always need more members.

 

St. Thomas Sunday – May 5, 2019

On Sunday, May 5, 2019 (St. Thomas Sunday) the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at Sts. Peter & Paul Chapel located at Cathedral Gardens in Elkridge, MD. Divine Liturgy will start at 10:00 AM at the chapel. Liturgy will NOT be celebrated at Holy Trinity Church that day – 05/05/19.

 

Sisterhood collecting sheets

The Sisterhood is collecting NEW twin bed sheet sets for the non-profit organization Sleep in Heavenly Peace, which builds beds for children who don’t have their own bed. Cotton sheets are preferred, because the children live in homes without air-conditioning. For more information contact Jill Marinich jillmarinich@comcast.net. 

 

Birthday / Anniversary Celebrations:  April 21-28

We offer our best wishes and birthday congratulations to Jill-Christine Marinich (4/23), Patricia-Marie Disharoon (4/26) and Christopher Pastor (4/28). May God bless them with health, prosperity and many years. To include your birthday/anniversary in the bulletin call Fr. John.



Vigil Candles: On the Altar and near St. Barbara

April 21-27: Candles offered by the Griffith Family for the health/salvation of the servant of God: Dmitriy & Grigoriy Griffith and  Svetlana & Leonid Kalenin. A $15 donation will keep all three candles lit for one week. Schedule your candle offering with Elena Loyko   443-537-8978; elenaakinina71@gmail.com. 

 

Submit your 2019 Pledge

The mission of our parish is to spread the Word of God, to grow, to expand, to improve and not just to preserve our traditions.  Our parish shouldn’t become stale, but pursue holiness. We strive to fulfill the mission of our parish, through prayer, work and sacrifice. Prayer – because we are called to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17); work – because we are taught to increase the talents given to us (Matt. 25: 14-30); and sacrifice – because "everyone to whom much is given, from him will much be required" (Luke 12:48).

 

Please Remember in Your Prayers…

Archpriest Michael Hatrak; Deacon Michael Bishop; Mat. Myra Kovalak; Mat. Klavdiya Burbelo; Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green; Nun Elizabeth; Nun Magdalena; Mat. Natalia Kosich; Priest Gregory and    Mat. Diane Winsky; Mat. Catherine Kowalchik; Marie Vass; Charles Snipes; Arthur-Stephen Lisowsky; Yelena Radchenko; Lydia Zorina; Tatiana; Katherine Plaskowitz; Philip Plaskowitz; Bernadine Borawick; Julia Aymold; Lilli Ann Hoffman; Lara Marinich; Oleg Marinich; Ioann and Galina Zernetkin; Monika-Anastasia & Stephanie Handley; Blanche-Julia Stolkovich; Ekaterina Koroleva; Nina Lewis; Maryann Black; Lyudmila, Anton & Aleksander Karnup; John Alexander Bylen; Katherine Garrett; Stephen Kaminitsky; John-Thomas Planinshek; Kenneth Pukita; William and Ann Ferkile; Sergei Krektyshev; Irina Kononova; Petr and Lyudmila Borodkin; Anthony Bakie; Svetlana & Aleksey; Nina; Alla; Anna; Alla; Raisa, Zinaida; Joseph Germano; Pavel, Vladimir, Valentina, Nina, and Maria; Maria Pappas; Bonnie Duke; Joseph Lacomy; Diana Radchenko; Aleksey & Lidia Potapov; Oleg and Andrei; Vitaliy, Tatiana, Olena & Nicholas Berchuk; David, Selina-Sophia, John, Maryann, David, Joseph, Lisa Ann Eichelberger; Cynthia and Bill (Basil) Popomaronis; Andrei, Marina, Valentina and Vladimir; Archpriest Cezar, Mat. Christina, Cezara–Maria, Darius, Justina, Christian; Victoria Lardiero; Richard Wright; Valentina Shultieva; Shanna, Stephen, Trent-Michael, Grant-Alexander, Adalynn Lisowsky; Julie Smith; Tayisia Solvieva; Lubov Pavuk; Leonid and Zoya; James McAteer; Jayne Sudol; Rita and Richard Herber; Svetlana, Mary Orzolek, Shane-Michael Sierakowski; George Matassov; Janice DesLauriers; John DesLauriers.

 

Next Council Meeting: Tuesday, May 14th – 7:00 PM in the Church Hall

 

Fr. John Vass, Rector    443-527-7067

Fr. Deacon Michael Bishop:                             410-563-0472

Victor Marinich, Council President:                         443-512-0985

Vadim Radchenko, Vice President:                    410-465-6172

Andrei Burbelo,  Recording Secretary:                  443-567-6031

Albert Blaszak, Treasurer:                                 410-799-3226

Oxana Chumak-Strianese, Stewardship Chair:      831-673-1937

Anna-Zumrat Shkurba Member-At-Large:          443-857-8541

Natallia Makarava Sisterhood President:                443-625-8470

Michael Mickel, Cemetery Manager:                   410-666-2870

 

 

Entry of our Lord into Jerusalem

 

On this day, Palm Sunday, we celebrate the bright and glorious feast of the Entrance of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. After the raising of Lazarus from the dead, many people who witnessed this event believed in Christ. Moreover, a decree was passed by the council of the Jews to have both Christ and Lazarus killed. Therefore, giving place to their wickedness, Jesus withdrew. The Jews, for their part, made plans to kill Him during the Feast of the Passover. Having stayed away for a long time in the wilderness near Ephraim, six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany to the house of Lazarus, who had been dead. There at supper, Lazarus ate with Him, and his sister Mary poured ointment on Christ's feet. Since Lazarus had been raised from the dead, numerous Jews had forsaken the lifeless synagogue and believed in Jesus. In the future, these would be recognized as the first Christians. At this time, the Jews were divided between those who wished Christ dead and were planning His death and those who acknowledged Him as the Messiah.

 

The next day, Jesus sent his Disciples to bring an ass and a colt. And He, who has heaven as a throne, entered Jerusalem seated on a colt. Meanwhile, the children of the Jews spread their garments and branches of trees on the road before Him. Others cut branches and others held them in their hands, going before Him shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!" (John 12:13). This took place because the All-Holy Spirit moved their tongues in praise and exaltation of Christ.

 

By using palms (in Hebrew, the tender branch is called vaion, a palm branch), they were signifying Christ's imminent victory over death. For it was the custom to honor the victors of contests or battles with triumphal processions and to lead them around with branches from evergreens. The meaning of Hosanna is "Save now, we pray" or "Therefore, save." The colt prefigured us, the Gentiles. The ass's colt was still an untamed animal and impure according to the Jewish law. Christ's sitting and resting on the "Gentiles" showed our taming and obedience to the "law" of the Holy Gospel and Christ as Champion, Victor, and King of all the earth.

 

Today we not only welcome the Lord riding on a colt into the city of Jerusalem, but Christ who comes in power and glory as King of the age to come. Yet this King comes in meekness and, humility, much different from the triumphal entry of earthly rulers. The multitudes beheld a man riding an ass's colt into the earthly city of Jerusalem to be proclaimed "King of the Jews" - Liberator from the Roman yoke. The Church sees the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, entering the heavenly Jerusalem to establish His eternal reign, after His self-emptying Crucifixion and soul-saving Resurrection.

 

The Prophet Zechariah was speaking about this feast when he said, "Fear not, О daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, sitting on an ass's colt" (Zech. 9:9). And the Holy Prophet David spoke about the children, saying, "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings. Thou hast perfected praise" (Ps. 8:2).

 

When Christ entered Jerusalem, all the city was in an uproar. In retaliation, the wicked Jewish High Priests instigated the crowds to kill Him. But Jesus evaded them, both hiding and then appearing, speaking to them in parables. Synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion

 

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh: The Lord’s Entry Into Jerusalem

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Today Christ enters the path not only of His sufferings but of that dreadful loneliness which enshrouds Him during all the days of Passion week. The loneliness begins with a misunderstanding; the people expect that the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem will be the triumphant procession of a political leader, of a leader who will free his people from oppression, from slavery, from what they consider godlessness – because all paganism or idol-worship is a denial of the living God. The loneliness will develop further into the dreadful loneliness of not being understood even by His disciples. At the Last Supper when the Saviour talks to them for the last time, they will be in constant doubt as to the meaning of His words. And later when He goes into the Garden of Gethsemane before the fearful death that is facing Him, His closest disciples, Peter, John and James – whom He chose to go with Him fall asleep, depressed, tired, hopeless. The culmination of this loneliness will be Christ’s cry on the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Abandoned men, rejected by the people of Israel He encounters the extreme of forsakenness and dies without God, without men, alone, with only His love for God and His love for mankind, dying for its sake and for God’s glory. 

 

The beginning of Christ’s Passion is today’s triumphal procession; the people expected a king, a leader – and they found the Saviour of their souls. Nothing embitters a person so much as a lost, a disappointed hope; and that explains why people who could receive Him like that, who witnessed the raising of Lazarus, who saw Christ’s miracles and heard His teaching, admired every word, who were ready to become His disciples as long as He brought victory, broke away from Him, turned their backs on Him and a few days later shouted, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” And Christ spent all those days in loneliness, knowing what was in store for Him, abandoned by everyone except the Mother of God, who stood silently by, as she had done throughout her life, participating in His tragic ascent to the Cross; she who had accepted the Annunciation, the Good Tidings, but who also accepted in silence Simeon’s prophecy that a sword would pierce her heart. 

 

During the coming days we shall be present – not just remember, but be present – at Christ’s Passion. We shall be part of the crowd surrounding Christ and the disciples and the Mother of God; as we hear the Gospel readings, as we listen to the prayers of the Church, as one image after another of these days of the Passion passes before our eyes, let each one of us ask himself the question, “Where do I stand, who am I in this crowd? A Pharisee? A Scribe? A traitor, a coward? Who? Or do I stand among the Apostles?” But they too were overcome by fear. Peter denied Him thrice, Judas betrayed Him, John, James and Peter went to sleep just when Christ most needed human love and support; the other disciples fled; no one remained except John and the Mother of God, those who were bound to Him by the kind of love which fears nothing and is ready to share in everything. 

 

Once more let us ask ourselves who we are and where we stand, what our position in this crowd is. Do we stand with hope or despair, or what? And if we stand with indifference, we too are part of that terrifying crowd that surrounded Christ, shuffling, listening, and then going away; as we shall go away from church. The Crucifix will be standing here on Thursday and we shall be reading the Gospel about the Cross, the Crucifixion and death – and then what will happen? The Cross will remain standing, but we shall go away for a rest, go home to have supper, to sleep, to prepare for the fatigues of the next day. And during this time Christ is on the Cross, Christ is in the tomb. How awful it is that, like the disciples in their day, we are not able to spend one night, one hour with Him. Let us think about this, and if we are incapable of doing anything, let us at least realise who we are and where we stand, and at the final hour turn to Christ with the cry, the appeal of the thief, Remember me, Lord, in Thy Kingdom. Amen. http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/69857.htm 

 

 

Great and Holy Passion Week

The first three days of Holy Week, which the Church calls Great and Holy have within the liturgical development of the Holy Week a very definite purpose. They place all its celebrations in the perspective of End; they remind us of the eschatological meaning of Pascha. So often Holy Week is considered one of the "beautiful traditions" or "customs," a self-evident "part" of our calendar. We take it for granted and enjoy it as a cherished annual event which we have "observed" since childhood, we admire the beauty of its services, the pageantry of its rites and, last but not least, we like the fuss about the paschal table. And then, when all this is done we resume our normal life. But do we understand that when the world rejected its Savior, when "Jesus began to be sorrowful and very heavy... and his soul was exceedingly sorrowful even unto death," when He died on the Cross, "normal life" came to its end and is no longer possible. For there were "normal" men who shouted "Crucify Him [" who spat at Him and nailed Him to the Cross. And they hated and killed Him precisely because He was troubling their normal life. It was indeed a perfectly "normal" world which preferred darkness and death to light and life.... By the death of Jesus the "normal" world, and "normal" life were irrevocably condemned. Or rather they revealed their true and abnormal inability to receive the Light, the terrible power of evil in them. "Now is the Judgment of this world" (John 12:31). The Pascha of Jesus signified its end to "this world" and it has been at its end since then. This end can last for hundreds of centuries this does not alter the nature of time in which we live as the "last time." "The fashion of this world passeth away..." (I Cor. 7:31).

 

Pascha means passover, passage. The feast of Passover was for the Jews the annual commemoration of their whole history as salvation, and of salvation as passage from the slavery of Egypt into freedom, from exile into the promised land. It was also the anticipation of the ultimate passage - into the Kingdom of God. And Christ was the fulfillment of Pascha. He performed the ultimate passage: from death into life, from this "old world" into the new world into the new time of the Kingdom. And he opened the possibility of this passage to us. Living in "this world" we can already be "not of this world," i.e. be free from slavery to death and sin, partakers of the "world to come." But for this we must also perform our own passage, we must condemn the old Adam in us, we must put on Christ in the baptismal death and have our true life hidden in God with Christ, in the "world to come...."

 

And thus Pascha is not an annual commemoration, solemn and beautiful, of a past event. It is this Event itself shown, given to us, as always efficient, always revealing our world, our time, our life as being at their end, and announcing the Beginning of the new life.... And the function of the three first days of Holy Week is precisely to challenge us with this ultimate meaning of Pascha and to prepare us to the understanding and acceptance of it. 

 

Behold the Bridegroom comes at midnight, And blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching, And again unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless. Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep, Lest you be given up to death and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom. But rouse yourself crying: Holy, Holy, Holy, art Thou, O our God! Through the Theotokos have mercy on us!

 

Midnight is the moment when the old day comes to its end and a new day begins. It is thus the symbol of the time in which we live as Christians. For, on the one hand, the Church is still in this world, sharing in its weaknesses and tragedies. Yet, on the other hand, her true being is not of this world, for she is the Bride of Christ and her mission is to announce and to reveal the coming of the Kingdom and of the new day. Her life is a perpetual watching and expectation, a vigil pointed at the dawn of this new day. But we know how strong is still our attachment to the "old day," to the world with its passions and sins. We know how deeply we still belong to "this world." We have seen the light, 'We know Christ, we have heard about the peace and joy of the new life in Him, and yet the world holds us in its slavery. This constant betrayal of Christ, this incapacity to give the totality of our love to God are wonderfully expressed in the exapostilarion of these three days: "Thy Bridal Chamber I see adorned, O my Savior And I have no wedding garment that I may enter, O Giver of life, enlighten the vesture of my soul And save me."

 

Great and Holy Thursday: The Mystical Supper 

The Last Supper is the ultimate revelation of God's redeeming love for man, of love as the very essence of salvation. And the betrayal of Judas reveals that sin, death and self-destruction are also due to love, but to deviated and distorted love, love directed at that which does not deserve love. Here is the mystery of this unique day, and its liturgy, where light and darkness, joy and sorrow are so strangely mixed, challenges us with the choice on which depends the eternal destiny of each one of us. "Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come... having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end..." (John 13:1). To understand the meaning of the Last Supper we must see it as the very end of the great movement of Divine Love which began with the creation of the world and is now to be consummated in the death and resurrection of Christ.

 

God is Love (1 John 4:8). And the first gift of Love was life. The meaning, the content of life was communion. To be alive man was to eat and to drink, to partake of the world. The world was thus Divine love made food, made Body of man. And being alive, i.e. partaking of the world, man was to be in communion with God, to have God as the meaning, the content and the end of his life. Communion with the God-given world was indeed communion with God. Man received his food from God and making it his body and his life, he offered the whole world to God, transformed it into life in God and with God. The love of God gave life to man, the love of man for God transformed this life into communion with God. This was paradise. Life in it was, indeed, eucharistic. Through man and his love for God the whole creation was to be sanctified and transformed into one all-embracing sacrament of Divine Presence and man was the priest of this sacrament.

 

But in sin man lost this eucharistic life. He lost it because he ceased to see the world as a means of Communion with God and his life as eucharist, as adoration and thanksgiving. . . He loves himself and the world for their own sake; he made himself the content and the end of his life. He thought that his hunger and thirst, i.e. his dependence of his life on the world - can be satisfied by the world as such, by food as such. But world and food, once they are deprived of their initial sacramental meaning - as means of communion with God, once they are not received for God's sake and filled with hunger and thirst for God, once, in other words, God is no longer, their real "content" can give no life, satisfy no hunger, for they have no life in themselves... And thus by putting his love in them, man deviated his love from the only object of all love, of all hunger, of all desires. And he died. For death is the inescapable "decomposition" of life cut from its only source and content. Man thought to find life in the world and in food, but he found death. His life became communion with death, for instead of transforming the world by faith, love, and adoration into communion with God, he submitted himself entirely to the world, he ceased to be its priest and became its slave. And by his sin the whole world was made a cemetery, where people condemned to death partook of death and "sat in the region and shadow of death" (Matt. 4:16).

 

But if man betrayed, God remained faithful to man. He did not "turn Himself away forever from His creature whom He had made, neither did He forget the works of His hands, but He visited him in diverse manners, through the tender compassion of His mercy" (Liturgy of St Basil). A new Divine work began, that of redemption and salvation. And it was fulfilled in Christ, the Son of God Who in order to restore man to his pristine beauty and to restore life as communion with God, became Man, took upon Himself our nature, with its thirst and hunger, with its desire for and love of, life. And in Him life was revealed, given, accepted and fulfilled as total and perfect Eucharist, as total and perfect communion with God. He rejected the basic human temptation: to live "by bread alone," He revealed that God and His kingdom are the real food, the real life of man. And this perfect eucharistic Life, filled with God, and, therefore Divine and immortal, He gave to all those who would believe in Him, i,e. find in Him the meaning and the content of their lives. Such is the wonderful meaning of the Last Supper. He offered Himself as the true food of man, because the Life revealed in Him is the true Life. And thus the movement of Divine Love which began in paradise with a Divine "take, eat. .." (for eating is life for man) comes now "unto the end" with the Divine "take, eat, this is My Body..." (for God is life of man). The Last Supper is the restoration of the paradise of bliss, of life as Eucharist and Communion.

 

Great and Holy Friday: Crucifixion of our Lord 

On the Cross Jesus thus became "the man of sorrows; acquainted with grief' whom the prophet Isaiah had foretold. He was "despised and forsaken by men" and "smitten by God, and afflicted" (Isaiah 53:3-4). He became the one with "no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2). His appearance was "marred beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the sons of men" (Isaiah 52:14). All these Messianic prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus as he hung from the Cross.

 

As the end approached, He cried: "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). This cry indicated His complete identification with the human condition. He had totally embraced the despised, forsaken and smitten condition of suffering and death - alienation from God. He was truly the man of sorrows.

 

Yet, it is important to note that Jesus' cry of anguish from the Cross was not a sign of His loss of faith in His Father. The words which He exclaimed are the first verse of Psalm 22, a messianic Psalm. The first part of the Psalm foretells the anguish, suffering and death of the Messiah. The second part is a song of praise to God. It predicts the final victory of the Messiah.

 

Before succumbing to this cruel Roman method of executing political criminals, Jesus suffered still other injustices. He was stripped, mocked and beaten. He wore a "kingly" crown of thorns on His head. He carried His own cross. He was finaIly nailed to the cross between two thieves at a place called Golgotha (the place of the skull) outside Jerusalem. An inscription was placed above His head on the Cross to indicate the nature of His crime: "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." He yielded up His spirit at about the ninth hour (3 p.m.), after hanging on the Cross for about six hours.

 

"It was night" (John 13:30) when Judas departed from the Last Supper to complete his act of betrayal, and "there was darkness over all the land" (Matthew 27:45) when Jesus was hanging on the Cross. The evil forces of this world had been massed against Christ. Unjust trials convicted Him. A criminal was released to the people instead of Him. Nails and a spear pierced His body. Bitter vinegar was given to Him to quench His thirst. Only one disciple remained faithful to Him. Finally, the tomb of another man became His place of repose after death.

 

Glory O Lord, to Thy Holy Passion!  Glory O Lord, to Thy Long-Suffering!

 

 

O Most Holy Trinity, Our God, Glory to Thee!