My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
BRIDEGROOM SERVICE (PALM SUNDAY EVENING)
(While the hymn of Bridegroom is chanted the Priest holding the holy Icon of the Lord exits from the North door of the Iconostasion preceded by the Altar Boys and proceeds around the church. When he comes to the "Solea" (area before the Iconostasis) he places the holy Icon of the Bridegroom and censes the Icon of Christ.)
Hymn of the Bridegroom. Fourth Plagal Tone
Behold the Bridegroom cometh in the midst of the night, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching; and again unworthy is he whom He shall find heedless. Beware, therefore, O my soul, lest thou be borne down with sleep, lest thou be given up to death, and lest thou be shut out from the Kingdom. Wherefore rouse thyself and cry: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou, our God, through the protection of the Heavenly Hosts save us. (Thrice).
Orthros (Matins) of Holy and Great Monday (Palm Sunday Night):
On Palm Sunday night, we begin the holy services of the Bridegroom (Christ). We remember that the Church is the Bride of Christ. At all Bridegroom services, the faithful venerate the holy icon of the Bridegroom at the conclusion of the divine service.
On Palm Sunday night and Holy and Great Monday morning, we commemorate the memory of the righteous Joseph, who we find in the Old Testament (the entire story is found in Genesis 37-50). The story of Joseph shows us that if we believe in God, He will save us and that we should forgive people that might not like us; Joseph did it, so did Jesus and countless others Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Fathers, Holy Mothers, Holy Confessors, Holy Apostles etc.
The Scriptural lessons, hymns and commemorations highlight significant aspects of salvation history, by calling to mind the events that anticipate the Passion and by proclaiming the inevitability and significance of the Parousia (the Coming of Christ). On Holy and Great Holy Monday (celebrated on Palms Sunday night) we commemorate the beloved son of Jacob, Saint Joseph the Patriarch, a major figure of the Old Testament. The story of Joseph, his bondage, sale into slavery in Egypt and final restoration there illustrates as prefiguring Christ's Life and Death, the story of redemption in Christ. The lesson to be learned from Joseph's life is that his slavery or "death in Egypt" was turned into a glorious life. In this biblical narrative the descent of Christ as a slave into Hades where He turned His slavery and death into Eternal Life for all humanity, was unknowingly prefigured.
We also remember our Lord's Divine words in the Gospel, specifically the "cursing of the fig tree." This story tells us that the fig tree had leaves on it but no fruit...it was alive, looked good and proper, but bore no fruit. Are we like this, only leaves but no fruit (virtuous works)? We must always ask ourselves this question to progress in our spiritual Christian lives.
Beginning in the evening of Palm Sunday and continuing the evening of Holy and Great Tuesday. The name "Service of the Bridegroom" is derived from the Parable of the Ten Virgins, in which Christ speaks of mystical marriage in which the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night. Some of the virgin brides were prepared with lamps to receive Him; others had come unprepared and consequently were left out of the wedding feast (St. Matthew 25:1-13). The term "Bridegroom" suggests the unifying intimacy of Christ's divine-human love for us all and is of great significance; in the Parable He compares the Kingdom of God a bridal chamber. The "Bridegroom" also suggests the Parousia, and in the Patristic Tradition the Parable is also related to His Second Coming which will come without any warning whatsover: it is associated with the need for spiritual vigilance and preparedness, by which we are enabled to keep the divine Commandments and receive the blessing of Union with God both in this life and in the age to come.
WE HAVE NOW ENTERED THE SIXTH WEEK OF THE HOLY AND GREAT FAST
From the Solemn Lenten Vespers of Great Lent
Fifth Sunday of Holy and Great Lent in Tone One
Verse 4. From the morning watch until night, from the morning watch let Israel trust in the Lord.
Let us believers begin with diligence the sixth week of the solemn Fast. Let us sing songs of offering for Palm Sunday, to the Lord coming in glory in Jerusalem, to cause death to die by His Divine power. Wherefore, let us make ready the banners of victory, in true worship, and the branches of virtues, shouting, Hosanna to the Creator of all.
For Saint John Climacus who we commemorate today March 30th. Tone Eight
Verse 3. For with the Lord there is mercy and with Him is abundant redemption, and He will deliver Israel form all his iniquities.
O righteous father John, truly has thou ever carried on thy lips the praises of the Lord, and with great wisdom hast thou studied the words of Holy Scripture that teach us how to practice the ascetic life. So hast thou gained the riches of grace, and thou hast become blessed, overthrowing all the purposes of the ungodly.
Verse 2. Praise the Lord, all ye nations; praise Him, all ye people.
O glorious father John, with the fountain of thy tears thou hast cleansed thy soul, and by keeping vigils through the night thou hast gained God's mercy. Thou wast raised on wings, O blessed one, to the love of Him and of His beauty; and as is right thou dwellest now in His unending joy, with thy fellow soldiers in the spiritual fight, O holy saint of God.
Verse 1. For His mercy is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endureth forever.
O righteous father John, through faith thou has lifted up thy mind on wings to God, hating the restless confusion of this world, thou hast taken up thy Cross; and, following Him Who sees all things, thou hast subjected thy rebellious body to His guidance through ascetic discipline by the power of the Holy Spirit.
A PERSONAL REQUEST FOR THE PARENTS OF OUR ALTAR BOYS
We have been informed by His Grace Bishop Demetrios that he will be officiating at the Palm Sunday evening service of the Bridegroom. It is therefore necessary, that the older Altar Boys will be attending, and, therefore, participating in the procession of the holy Icon of Christ, and of course, to offer the proper respect to our Bishop. Please inform George Callas, either way, so that we have some idea how many will be attending. Let us not forget that it was His Grace that tonsured the older boys as Readers of the Church.
This will be the first time that either His Eminence or His Grace will be attending a Holy Week service at Saint Andrew. At least, since my assignment as the Proistamenos at Saint Andrew's parish, fifteen years ago.
All of our parishioners are invited to attend the divine Service of Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, which is most beautiful and solemn. It is also a true blessing for you, your family and our parish.
Priest: May Christ our True God, through the intercessions of His All-immaculate and All-blameless Holy Mother; by the protection of the honorable Bodiless of Heaven; at the supplication of Saint Andrew the Apostle and First-Called, the patron and protector of this holy community; of the holy and righteous ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna; of our venerable and God-bearing father John (Climacus) of Sinai, author of 'The Ladder', whose repose we now commemorate, New-Hieromartyr Zachariah, bishop of Corinth; and St. Sophronios, Bishop of Irkutsk, whose memory we celebrate today, and of all the Saints: have mercy on us and save us, forasmuch as he is good and loveth mankind.
Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy upon us and save us. Amen.
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
GLORY BE TO GOD FOR ALL THINGS!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God