Treading into the Holy Passion Week – The Week that changed the world
We have entered into the Great and Holy Week. After fasting with our Lord for 40 days, followed by the arrival of Lazarus Saturday and the Feast of the Lord Jesus Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, the intensity in the life of an Orthodox Christian life increases. The preparatory service of Vaadhe D’ Thalmeeno announced the commencement of the Week of Passion of Lord Jesus Christ.
Holy Week is the last week of Great Lent, the week immediately preceding Resurrection Sunday. The entire week between Palm Sunday and Holy Saturday is included in Holy Week. The Holy Week is a special Fast in honor of our Lord’s suffering and Passion. Holy Week in the Orthodox Church institutes the sanctity of the holy calendar year of the Church. This week commemorates the final agonizing journey of Jesus to the cross and the passion by which Jesus Christ gave His life for us. It is important to place the hope of the Resurrection, the promise of newness and life, against the background of death and endings.
The Holy Week is also called Passion Week. The English word passion comes from a Latin word that means, “to suffer,” the same word from which we derive the English word ‘patient’. This week commemorates the final agonizing journey of Jesus to the cross and the passion by which Jesus Christ voluntarily gave His life for us. Jesus Christ truly revealed His passion for us in the suffering, and He willingly went through on our behalf. We should be passionate in our worship of Jesus and in our proclamation of His Gospel! As He suffered for us, so should we be willing to suffer for the cause of following Him and proclaiming the message of His death and resurrection. It is the centre of commemorations and inspirations is the Resurrection Sunday, the Feast of feasts. One Hundred days are dedicated to Resurrection Sunday, 50 days of Great Lent for its Preparation and 50 days of commemoration and glorification of the Lord. The 50 days before Resurrection Sunday, is a period for strengthening faith in the Lord, through repentance, prayer and self-control.Every Sunday is dedicated to the glorified Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, but the Holy Week observances call us to move behind the joyful celebrations of Palm Sunday and Resurrection and focus on the suffering, humiliation, and death of our Lord.
We must receive this week with respect and reverence, and act in great humility and submission. Our fasts should become more rigid and rigorous. Early Church abstained from eating any sweet food like honey or jam, as it is not appropriate to eat sweets while commemorating God’s suffering for our sake. Some never cooked during this week, as a matter of devotion, as cooking would distract them from worshiping. Most of them never ate anything except bread and salt. As a sign of devotion during this week, women did not wear make-up or jewellery. People devoted all their time for worshiping; they gathered in Churches for prayer and contemplation.
Holy Week is a week of serious prayer, serious concentration on Christ, serious Church services and is a movement toward the joy of Resurrection