Holy Week begins Sunday, April 24th, with Palm Sunday. Holy Pascha, commonly called Easter Sunday, is Sunday, May 1st.
PALM SUNDAY, April 24.
9:15 AM - Matins, followed at 10:00 AM by the Blessing and Distribution of Palms and the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist, with fellowship and refreshments in the parish hall after the Liturgy.
There will be no Sunday School on Palm Sunday. Christian Education resumes on Sunday, May 8th. Our monthly Potluck Luncheon has been moved to Easter Sunday, so we can celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ with a joyous agape meal, but we will have fellowship and refreshments after the Liturgy on Palm Sunday as usual. There will be plenty of blessed palms to take home and to share with others so take all you need.
SPY WEDNESDAY, April 27.
11:00 to 11:45 AM - Confessions.
12:10 PM - The Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist.
Wednesday of Holy Week is the day on which Judas made arrangements with the Temple authorities to betray Christ and thus became a spy within the band of the Apostles. Join us at church as Jesus begins his passion, and pray that we may all live in such a way that we never betray Christ in thought, word or deed.
MAUNDY THURSDAY, April 28.
11:00 AM to Noon - Confessions.
6:30 PM - The Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist, Vespers and the Stripping of the Altar.
On this evening we commemorate the Last Supper (called the Mystical Supper in the East) and the institution of the Holy Eucharist by Christ, and receive Holy Communion with those in the Upper Room as from Christ’s own hand. Immediately after Holy Mass we go with Christ into the Garden of Gethsemane and respond to His heartfelt request that we “watch and pray” (St. Matthew 26:40) with him, by praying Vespers. Upon the conclusion of Vespers the altar is stripped bare and the tabernacle left empty in remembrance that our Lord has been betrayed, arrested and taken away.
Maundy Thursday is the traditional English name for the Thursday before Easter. In the Roman Rite it is commonly called Holy Thursday. The word “Maundy” derives from the first antiphon of the ceremony of the washing of feet, “mandatum novum” - “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (St. John 13:34).
In the English tradition the ancient ceremony of washing the feet of twelve (or more) poor men has been confined to bishops and other great ecclesiastical and secular personages. In modern times the adoption of the Roman Rite practice of the parish priest washing the feet of twelve men has been introduced and is becoming more common in English Use parishes.
Sheer Thursday is another old name for Maundy Thursday, from “Sheer” (similar to Shrove), meaning “clean” and “free from guilt,” referencing the practice of going to confession and receiving absolution. Confessions are scheduled to be heard on Spy Wednesday from 11:00 at 11:45 AM, Maundy Thursday from 11:00 AM to Noon, Good Friday after The Way of the Cross, and by appointment.
GOOD FRIDAY, April 29.
10:00 AM - Matins and the Liturgy of the Word (Ante-Communion).
12:10 PM - The Way of the Cross.
12:30 PM - Confessions (Immediately after The Way of the Cross).
6:30 PM - Vespers and the Litany.
On Good Friday we commemorate the passion, crucifixion, and burial of Christ. At Matins we remember our Lord’s arrest and trial; and at the Liturgy of the Word, or Ante-Communion, his scourging and crucifixion.
In the Western Rite, Good Friday and Easter Even (or Holy Saturday) are the only days of the year that the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist cannot be celebrated. In the English tradition the Liturgy of the Word, often called the Ante-Communion, follows Matins, while in the Roman Rite a Liturgy of the Presanctified has become grafted onto it. Some English Use parishes have also adopted this practice.
At 12:10 PM we will follow our Lord Jesus Christ as he carries his cross from prison to Golgotha with a service of prayer and reflection called, The Way of the Cross. Confessions will again be heard after this Service.
At 6:30 PM we will gather once again for Vespers and the Litany, keeping watch in anticipation of our Lord’s Resurrection. This year we will incorporate a beautiful Eastern Rite tradition into our evening Service. We will have an Epitaphion (“belonging to the burial”). The Epitaphion or Epitaphios is an icon of the burial of Christ that will lay on a bier in the centre of the church, decorated with flowers. Gathered around the tomb of Christ we will sing Vespers and the Litany.
I am sometimes asked why the Orthodox Christian Church observes Holy Week and celebrates Pascha, Easter Sunday, at a time that often is at variance with that of other Christians. The answer is simple. The Council of Nicea (AD 325) that has given us the Nicene Creed also established when Easter was to be celebrated. As Orthodox Christians we continue to recite the Nicene Creed as originally written, without the Filioque clause (that is both un-Scriptural and was added unilaterally and without Catholic consent), and we continue to celebrate Easter as directed by that Oecumenical Council. In an ever changing world the Orthodox Church has an unchanging message. Orthodox Christianity is a fixed star by which men and women can find their way home to our Father’s House.
Please arrange your schedule so you can attend as many Holy Week Services as possible. Try to attend them all as they are all different and through them you will be able to follow our Lord from his betrayal at the hands of a friend (Do we betray him through our sin, indifference and double mindedness?), his arrest, passion, crucifixion, death and burial, and his glorious resurrection on the third day. Holy Week is the holiest week of the year, and it can touch hearts and change lives.
Paschal (Easter) Service information will be posted next week, but for now let us focus our attention on being with our Lord on these last few days of his earthly life. We adore thee O Christ and we bless thee. Because by thy holy Cross thou hast redeemed the world.
Visitors are always welcome at Holy Cross parish. We are a faithful and friendly congregation, and we have a place for you!
HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127