Holy Friday Vigil

Last night was Holy Friday (Good Friday) for Orthodox Christians. There is a tradition of some of the faithful keeping vigil at the tomb from the end of the Lamentations service until Liturgy on Holy Saturday morning.


Taken from the Antiochian Archdiocese website:

After our Lord died on the Cross, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus, bound it in linen cloths with spices and buried it in a new tomb. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sat opposite the tomb watching as their Lord was buried. The Church over the centuries has joined with these two women in keeping watch over Jesus’ tomb. The Holy Friday Vigil at Christ’s tomb is our opportunity to help keep watch over our Lord’s body as He descends in to Hell to loosen the bonds of death. What better way to understand the death and resurrection of Jesus than to participate in the Vigil by His tomb?


A handful of people from our parish signed up to read or chant, either for a few hours or as needed through the night.


One thing I like about reading through the Psalter is recognizing the verses we use in our hymnography, sometimes long sections of the psalms put to music. Other times just a few verses, like the Alleluia Verses we chant during the Bridegroom Matins.


I get tired sitting in the pew, but when someone starts chanting I can’t help but sing along, even if I’ve got my headcovering pulled halfway over my face and my eyes closed 🙂

We somehow went without doing this the past couple years, but I hope we’ll be able to keep it up from now on.

Does your parish keep vigil on Holy Friday?

Here’s a friend of mine chanting By the Waters of Babylon

And from Holy Transfiguration Monastery

The Utter Destruction of Death

Stichera from the Presanctified Liturgy of the Sixth Wednesday of Great Lent:

Plagal of the First Mode
Verse 8. Out of the depths have I cried to Thee, O Lord, Lord hear my voice.
With boundless love in your hands, O holy martyrs, ye did not forsake Christ; enduring the various wounds of sufferings, ye laid low the torturers’ impudence. Preserving unbending and unshakeable faith, ye wert translated into heaven. Since ye received boldness before Him, entreat Him to grant peace to the world, and for our souls Great Mercy.

Verse 7. Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
Jesus told those who were with Him when He walked in the flesh by the River Jordan: My friend Lazarus is already dead, given over for burial. But I rejoice for your sake, O friends, for by his death ye shall learn that I know all, for I am God, even though I have appeared as man. Let us go and bring Him to life, so that death may really feel its utter destruction, and the victory I shall win, granting the world Great Mercy.

Verse 6. If Thou, O Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? For with Thee there is forgiveness.
Imitating Mary and Martha, O faithful, let us offer divine works to the Lord as they did, that He might come and raise our minds, which now lie dead in the tomb of carelessness, feeling no fear of God, and deprived of any living action. Behold, O Lord, Who of old didst raise Thy friend Lazarus by Thy coming. Give life to us also, O bountiful One, granting us Great Mercy.

Clean Wednesday: Spiritual Fast

My dish for the first Lenten potluck of 2015 is marinating in the fridge, but as much as I’m looking forward to the potluck, the thing that’s making me really happy is thinking about hearing Let My Prayer Arise for the first time. And the noise of everyone shuffling around in the chapel trying to find a spot to make prostrations during the Prayer of St. Ephraim. We also have some great stichera that teach us about the true meaning of the fast – that’s the great thing about Orthodox liturgical music, it has real meaning and you can learn so much from it. If you attend all the services for one year and pay attention to the music, you will learn everything the Church believes.

Here are a few stichera to get us through these last few hours before Presanctified Liturgy. I hope you all get to enjoy breaking the fast afterwards (to some degree) with your church family like I will! *Not the fast, the Clean Week/Eucharistic fast 🙂

While fasting physically, brethren, let us also fast spiritually. Let us loose every knot of iniquity. Let us tear up every unrighteous bond. Let us distribute bread to the hungry, and welcome into our homes those who have no roof over their heads, so that we may receive the Great Mercy from Christ our God.

Elias was enlightened through fasting. He mounted the chariot of good works and was taken up to the heights of heaven. Emulate him, O humble soul. Abstain from every evil and jealousy, from every fleeting pleasure, so that ye might be cleansed of corrupting disease, the fires of Gehenna, crying to Christ: O Lord, glory to Thee.

O divine apostles, fervent intercessors for the world, defenders of the Orthodox. Ye possess the authority to entreat Christ our God with boldness. We entreat ye to pray for us, O honorable ones, that we might spend the good time of fasting in joyousness and receive the grace of the consubstantial Trinity. Pray for our souls, O great and glorious preachers.

With a Lying Kiss

betrayal icon

The law-transgressing Judas, O Lord, who dipped his hand with thee in the plate at supper, hath put forth his hands with iniquity to take silver; and he who calculated the price of the spice did not shrink from selling thee, O priceless One. And he who put forth his feet for the Master to wash, deceitfully kissed him to deliver him to law-breakers. Verily, he hath been cast away with his thirty pieces of silver, without beholding thy third day Resurrection, through which, have mercy upon us.

Judas the traitor, being deceitful, betrayed the Saviour Lord with a lying kiss; and he sold the Master of all like a slave to the transgressors of the law. But the Lamb of God followed like a sheep to the slaughter, who is the only Son of the most merciful Father.
-2nd & 3rd Stichera from the Vesperal Divine Liturgy on Holy Thursday, Tone 2

The Tomb of Carelessness

Mary&Martha Icon
Imitating Mary and Martha, O faithful, let us offer divine works to the Lord as they did, that He might come and raise our minds, which now lie dead in the tomb of carelessness, feeling no fear of God, and deprived of any living action. Behold, O Lord, Who of old didst raise Thy friend Lazarus by Thy coming. Give life to us also, O bountiful One, granting us Great Mercy.

-Stichera of the Presanctified Liturgy for the Sixth Wednesday in Tone 5

Clean Tuesday

2014 Good Fight
From All Saints Greek Orthodox Monastery on facebook.

One more day to go until our first Presanctified Liturgy of Great Lent.


“O godly apostles, fervent intercessors of the world and defenders of the Orthodox, ye who have the power to draw near with boldness unto Christ our God. O all revered ones
we beg you: pray on our behalf that unhindered we may keep the holy season of the fast and recieve the grace of the consubstantial Trinity. O great and glorious preachers worthy of all honor, pray for us.”
Stichera for the 1st Wednesday in Great Lent, Tone 5, verse 5

All Things are Possible to Thee

1LazarusO Lord, wishing to see the tomb of Lazarus — for Thou wast soon to dwell by Thine own choice within a tomb — Thou hast asked: Where have ye laid him? And, learning that which was already known to Thee, Thou hast cried to him whom Thou hast loved: Lazarus, come forth. And he who was without breath obeyed the One Who gave him breath, even Thee, the Savior of our souls.

Standing before the tomb of Lazarus, O Savior, and calling to the dead man, Thou hast raised him as from sleep. He shook off corruption through the Spirit of incorruption, and at Thy word he came out bound with grave-clothes. All things are possible to Thee, all things serve Thee, O loving Lord, all things submit to Thee. O our Savior, glory to Thee.

Stichera & Doxostikon for Lazarus Saturday

That He Might Come and Raise Our Minds

Raising of Lazarus Icon
Jesus told those who were with Him when He walked in the flesh by the River Jordan: My friend Lazarus is already dead, given over for burial. But I rejoice for your sake, O friends, for by his death ye shall learn that I know all, for I am God, even though I have appeared as man. Let us go and bring Him to life, so that death may really feel its utter destruction, and the victory I shall win, granting the world Great Mercy.

Imitating Mary and Martha, O faithful, let us offer divine works to the Lord as they did, that He might come and raise our minds, which now lie dead in the tomb of carelessness, feeling no fear of God, and deprived of any living action. Behold, O Lord, Who of old didst raise Thy friend Lazarus by Thy coming. Give life to us also, O bountiful One, granting us Great Mercy.

Lazarus is in the tomb two days, seeing the dead of all ages, beholding strange sights of terror, a great crowd held by the bonds of hell. His relatives grieve bitterly, looking at his tomb. But Christ is coming to bring His friend to life, so that one harmonious song may be sung by all: Blessed art Thou, O Savior, have mercy on us.

Stichera from the Presanctified Liturgy, for the Sixth Wednesday of Great Lent

These stichera look forward to Lazarus Saturday, which this year (2013) will be April 27th.

St. Mary of Egypt

St. Mary of Egypt Commemorated on the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent
The pollution of past sins prevented thee from entering the church to see the elevation of the Holy Cross; but then thy conscience and the awareness of thine actions turned thee, O wise in God, to a better way of life. And, having looked upon the icon of the blessed Maid of God, thou hast condemned all thy previous transgressions, O Mother Mary of Egypt worthy of all praise, and so hast gone with boldness to venerate the Precious Cross.

Having worshiped at the holy places with great joy, thou hast received saving grace for the journey of virtue, and with all haste thou hast set out upon the good path thou hast chosen. Crossing the stream of Jordan, with eagerness thou hast gone to live in the dwelling-place of the Baptist. Thou hast tamed the savagery of the passions through thine ascetic way of life, and boldly thou hast broken the rebelliousness of the flesh, O ever-glorious Mother Mary of Egypt.

Having gone to dwell in the wilderness, thou hast blotted out from thy soul the images of thy sensual passions, and hast marked upon it the God-given imprint of holiness. Thou hast attained such glory, O venerable one, as to walk upon the surface of the waters, and in thy prayers to God thou wast raised up from the earth. And now, all-glorious Mother Mary of Egypt, standing before Christ with boldness, entreat Him for our souls.

-From the praises of the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent, for St. Mary of Egypt

St. Gregory Palamas

St. Gregory Palamas“With what words shall we who dwell on earth praise the holy Bishop Gregory? He is the teacher of the Church, the herald of the light of God, the initiate of the heavenly mysteries of the Trinity, the chief adornment of the monastic life, renowned alike in action and in contemplation, the glory of Thessaloniki; and now he dwells in heaven with the great and glorious martyr Dimitrios, whose relics flow with holy oil.”

-4th Stichera for St. Gregory Palamas, whose memory we commemorate on the second Sunday of Great Lent, in the 2nd mode

I was extra happy to hear this tonight at Vespers because in the not-too-distant future, I’ll be in Thessaloniki where St. Gregory‘s relics are kept, and I’ll also be visiting Agios Dimitrios Church.