Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Holy Thursday Morning

The Liturgy of St. Basil the Great (Holy Thursday Morning)

This Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil the Great is done on Holy Thursday morning, in anticipation of the events of the evening (i.e. the mocking, crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.) Some of the same hymns are chanted, as we chanted for the Matins service. People commune the Body and Blood of Christ at the time we always do; after the Liturgy, the Priest does not commune anyone until Holy Saturday morning.
During this Liturgy, we find the Priest consecrates a second “Lamb” (that is, the piece of bread that becomes the Body of Christ during the Divine Liturgy). The Body of Christ is then immersed into the Blood of Christ in the Chalice. It is then placed in the Artoforion (the place where the Holy Communion is kept throughout the year). The amazing miracle that happens is that the Holy Communion does not “ruin” after being in the Artoforion for an entire year!
Each year, a new piece is put in for emergency cases.

OT Prophecies: Exodus 19:10-19, Job 19:10-19, Isaiah 50:4-11Epistle: 1 Corinthians 11:23-32
Gospel: Matthew 26:2-20, John 13:3-17, Matthew 26:21-39, Luke 22:43-44, Matthew 26:40-75. 27:1-5

The Passion Service (Holy Thursday Evening)
The 12 Gospels, in the order they are read on Holy Thursday evening:
John 13:31-18:1
John 18:1-28
Matthew 26:57-75
John 18:28-19:16
Matthew 27:3-32
Mark 15:16-32
Luke 23:32-49
John 19:25-37
Mark 15:43-47
John 19:38-42
Matthew 27:62-66

The service on Holy Thursday night is one of the longest services of the year. The Holy Service of the Passion is a service filled with beautiful hymnography and 12 Gospels that depict the various events of the Passion of Jesus Christ. Various hymns are chanted by the people, and Gospels are read that describe Jesus’ betrayal, His trial by the Chief Priests and Pilate, and then His Crucifixion. 

After the Fifth Gospel, the Priest carries out a large Crucifix (usually found behind the Altar Table), to the following Hymn (the 15th Antiphon):
Today he who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon a Tree. He who is King of the Angels is arrayed in a crown of thorns. He who wraps the heaven in clouds is wrapped in mocking purple. He who freed Adam in the Jordan receives a blow on the face. The Bridegroom of the Church is transfixed with nails. The Son of the Virgin is pierced by a lance. We worship your Sufferings, O Christ. Show us also your glorious Resurrection.
Following the Procession, people come up and venerate the Crucified Christ.

This service has the definite notion of χαρμολύπη, bittersweet joy: We are very sad because our God has died. We believe that Jesus Christ was not a phantom, or only Man: He was fully God, He came to earth and died on the Cross, so that we may live. We are very joyous that Jesus will soon be victorious over death with His Resurrection, and through His death we receive life.

Editor: διάκονος. Camill Tannous
 Orthodox Christianity for Theological Research and Patrimony of church