Lent and Holy Week Services

Lent and Holy Week Services

Click on date below to see information and downloadable service pdf

March 14 – Sunday Vespers on Forgiveness Sunday Evening at 6:30pm – with Service of Mutual Forgiveness

Downloadable Service – PDF

On this last Sunday before Great Lent, the last day that traditionally Orthodox Christians eat dairy products until Easter, the Church remembers the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. God commanded them to fast from the fruit of a tree (Gen. 2:16), but they did not obey. In this way Adam and Eve and their descendants became heirs of death and corruption.

On Forgiveness Sunday many attend Forgiveness Vespers on the eve of Great Lent. They hear on the Lord’s teaching about fasting and forgiveness and enter the season of the fast forgiving one another so that God will forgive them. If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your trespasses (Matthew 6:14).

The Gospel reading of the day also gives advice on fasting. Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (Matthew 6:16-18).

After the dismissal at Vespers, the priest stands beside the analogion, or before the ambon, and the faithful come up one by one and venerate the icon, after which each makes a prostration before the priest, saying, “Forgive me, a sinner.” The priest also makes a prostration before each, saying, “God forgives. Forgive me.” The person responds, “God forgives,” and receives a blessing from the priest. Meanwhile the choir sings quietly the irmoi of the Paschal Canon, or else the Paschal Stichera. After receiving the priest’s blessing, the faithful also ask forgiveness of each other.

March 15 – Monday Great Compline with Canon of St Andrew of Crete at 6:30pm

Downloadable Great Compline Service – PDF

Downloadable Canon for Monday Evening – Sung with within the Great Compline – PDF

There is no other sacred hymn that compares with this monumental work, which St Andrew wrote for his personal meditations. Nothing else has its extensive typology and mystical explanations of the scripture, from both the Old and New Testaments. One can almost consider this hymn to be a “survey of the Old and New Testament”. Its other distinguishing features are a spirit of mournful humility, hope in God, and complex and beautiful Trinitarian Doxologies and hymns to the Theotokos in each Ode.

The canon is a dialog between St. Andrew and his soul. The ongoing theme is an urgent exhortation to change one’s life. St Andrew always mentions his own sinfulness placed in juxtaposition to God’s mercy, and uses literally hundreds of references to good and bad examples from the OT and NT to “convince himself” to repent.

March 16 – Tuesday Great Compline with Canon of St Andrew of Crete at 6:30pm

Downloadable Great Compline Service – PDF

Downloadable Canon for Tuesday Evening – Sung with within the Great Compline – PDF

There is no other sacred hymn that compares with this monumental work, which St Andrew wrote for his personal meditations. Nothing else has its extensive typology and mystical explanations of the scripture, from both the Old and New Testaments. One can almost consider this hymn to be a “survey of the Old and New Testament”. Its other distinguishing features are a spirit of mournful humility, hope in God, and complex and beautiful Trinitarian Doxologies and hymns to the Theotokos in each Ode.

The canon is a dialog between St. Andrew and his soul. The ongoing theme is an urgent exhortation to change one’s life. St Andrew always mentions his own sinfulness placed in juxtaposition to God’s mercy, and uses literally hundreds of references to good and bad examples from the OT and NT to “convince himself” to repent.

March 17 – Wednesday Presanctified Liturgy at 6:30pm

Downloadable Presanctified Liturgy Service – PDF

Changes in Presanctified Liturgy for March 17 – PDF

The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is an ancient service in the Orthodox Church. It is the solemn Lenten Vespers with the administration of Holy Communion added to it. It comes in the evening after a day of spiritual preparation and fasting. There is no consecration of the Eucharistic gifts at the Presanctified Liturgy. Holy Communion is given from the Eucharistic gifts sanctified on the previous Sunday at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, unless, of course, the feast of the Annunciation should intervene; hence its name of “presanctified”.

March 18 – Thursday Great Compline with Canon of St Andrew of Crete at 6:30pm

Downloadable Great Compline Service – PDF

Downloadable Canon for Thursday Evening – Sung with within the Great Compline – PDF

There is no other sacred hymn that compares with this monumental work, which St Andrew wrote for his personal meditations. Nothing else has its extensive typology and mystical explanations of the scripture, from both the Old and New Testaments. One can almost consider this hymn to be a “survey of the Old and New Testament”. Its other distinguishing features are a spirit of mournful humility, hope in God, and complex and beautiful Trinitarian Doxologies and hymns to the Theotokos in each Ode.

The canon is a dialog between St. Andrew and his soul. The ongoing theme is an urgent exhortation to change one’s life. St Andrew always mentions his own sinfulness placed in juxtaposition to God’s mercy, and uses literally hundreds of references to good and bad examples from the OT and NT to “convince himself” to repent.

March 19 – Friday Small Compline with Akathist Canon and Salutations to the Theotokos at 6:30pm

Downloadable Small Compline with Akathist Service – PDF

The Akathist Hymn is a profound, devotional poem, which sings the praises of the Holy Mother and Ever-Virgin Mary. It is one of the most beloved services in the Orthodox Church. The word “akathistos” means “not sitting,” i.e., standing; normally all participants stand while the salutations are being Sung. The Scriptural Theme of the Canon and Salutations is the Feast of the Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel tells Mary that she will bear the Son of God. That Feast is on March 25.

March 20 – Saturday Great Vespers at 5pm
March 21 – Sunday Matins and Divine Liturgy at 9am/10am (Sunday of Orthodoxy)

Downloadable Matins Service – PDF

Downloadable Variations for Divine Liturgy – PDF

Each of the Sundays of Great Lent has its own special theme. In the course of Church history, almost each Lenten Sunday has obtained a second theme, a historical theme. Originally the Lenten fast was the time for catechumens to prepare for baptism and entry into the Church. The Sunday spiritual themes were part of the early Christian catechesis.

The theme of the day is victory of the True Faith. “This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith” (1 John 5:4). Also, the icons of the saints bear witness that man, “created in the image and likeness of God” (Gen 1:26), becomes holy and godlike through the purification of himself as God’s living image. The connection of the victory over iconoclasm with Lent is purely historical; the first Triumph of Orthodoxy took place on this particular Sunday.

The first Sunday of Great Lent originally commemorated the Prophets such as Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. The Liturgy’s alleluia verses and scripture readings appointed for the Sunday of Orthodoxy reflect this older usage. The Epistle reading is a completion of Hebrews 11:24-26, 32-12:2. The yet-to-be-baptized catechumens of the early church heard the Epistle about the Old Testament men who lived by their faith in a promise whose fulfillment they did not see. After the righteous of the Old Testament are mentioned, the Epistle says: And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

The Gospel lesson is John 1:43-51, and it ends with a explanation of the something better of the Epistle: “You will see greater things than these.” And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” The catechumens of the early church, and the faithful preparing for Pascha today, are told that, with faith, they will see the inauguration of the new age, the fulfillment of all promises, and the manifestation of the Kingdom, through the Incarnation, in the Church.

March 24 – Wednesday Great Vespers for the Feast of the Annunciation at 5pm
March 25 – Thursday Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Annunciation at 9am

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