Daily Devotional for April 17 – 23
Palm Sunday Antiphons
Another Troparion, tone 4: As by Baptism we were buried with Thee, O Christ our God, so by Thy Resurrection we were granted immortal life, and praising Thee, we cry: Hosanna in the Heights! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord.
Kontaklon, tone 6: On the throne in heaven and riding a colt on earth, O Christ our God, Thou didst receive the praise of Angels and the chorus of the children who cried to Thee: Blessed art Thou Who comest to recall Adam.
Palm Sunday Evening – Matthew 21:18-43. This evening’s service calls to mind the beginning of Jesus’ suffering. The gospel describes the plotting of the priests and elders to trap Jesus into convicting Himself as a religious heretic. Through parables, Jesus tells us of His coming betrayal, trial, conviction and execution by crucifixion. The hymns of this service commemorate two things; the first, the prophetic figure of Joseph, who, while virtuous, nonetheless suffered unjustly at the hands of his brothers before being greatly rewarded, and the second, the parable of the fig tree, which in failing to bear fruit, became a symbol of fallen creation, and of our own lives, in which we also have failed to bear spiritual fruit.
Prayer: O Lord, deprive me not of Thy heavenly good things.
O Lord, deliver me from the eternal torments. (St John Chrysostom hourly prayers)
Troparion, tone 8: Behold, the Bridegroom is coming in the middle of the night, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find awake and watching, but unworthy is he whom He shall find idle and careless. Beware, then, my soul, lest thou be weighed down with sleep, lest thou be given up to death and shut out of the Kingdom. But awake and cry: Holy, Holy, Holy, art Thou, O God: through the intercessions of the Bodiless Ones, save us. (Sung three times; however, the ending the third time is: through the Mother of God, have mercy on us.)
Kontakion, tone 8: Jacob lamented the loss of Joseph, but his noble son was sitting in a chariot and honoured as a king. For when he refused to be enslaved by the pleasures of the Egyptian woman, he was glorified by Him Who sees the hearts of men and bestows an incorruptible crown.
Holy Monday Evening – Matthew 22:15-46; 23:1-39. This evening’s theme is the need for watchfulness and preparation, lest we be called unprepared before the awesome judgement seat of Christ to render an account of ourselves. The gospel reading contrasts the efforts of the Pharisees to trick and discredit Jesus, with the forceful resistance which Christ mounts against their evil. The hymns remind us of the parable of the Ten Virgins, in which the faithful Christian is exhorted to vigilance.
Prayer: O Lord, if I have sinned in mind or thought, in word or deed, forgive me.
O Lord, deliver me from all ignorance, forgetfulness, faint-heartedness, and stony insensibility.
Kontakion, tone 2: Realizing the hour of reckoning, O my soul, and fearing tlie cutting down of the fig tree, work diligently with the talent that has been given thee O wretched one. Watch and pray that we may not remain outside the bride chamber of Christ.
Holy Tuesday Evening – John 12:17-50. The need for true repentance is the concern of Tuesday evening’s service. This transformation from the life of sin to a life of faith and obedience is exemplified for us in the person of the sinful woman who received the gift for forgiveness when she anointed Jesus with myrrh and washed His feet. The highlight of the service is the hymn written in honour of this woman by St. Kassiani. The Gospel meditation foretells of the coming suffering of Christ and recalls His inner struggles and agony.
Prayer: O Lord, deliver me from every temptation.
O Lord, enlighten my heart which evil desire hath darkened.
Holy Wednesday Afternoon and Evening – Epistle readings: James 5:10-16, Romans 15:1-7, I Corinthians 12:27-31-13:1-8, II Corinthians 1:8-11. Galatians 5:22-6:2, I Thessalonians 5:14-23. Gospel readings: Luke 10:25-37, Luke 19:1-10, Matthew 10:1 & 10:5-8, Matthew 8:14-23, Matthew 25:1-13, Matthew 15:21-28, and Matthew 9:9-13. The primary theme of Holy Wednesday is our human need for the healing and forgiveness that comes into our lives when we establish a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We are reminded that the way to this relationship is to be found, above all else, through the life of prayer. In the Sacrament of Holy Unction, the faithful are anointed and thus, healed both physically and spiritually. They are also reconciled to God and one another so that they might receive the gift of the Holy Eucharist instituted by Christ at the Last Supper.
Kontakion, tone 4: I have sinned more than the harlot, O Good One, and I come to Thee with none of her showers of tears. But praying in silence, I fall down before Thee and lovingly embrace Thy immaculate feet, that as the Lord Thou mayest grant me forgiveness of sins as I cry to Thee, O Saviour: Deliver me from the mire of my evil deeds.
Prayer: O Lord, as a man I have sinned, but do Thou, as the compassionate God, have mercy on me, seeing the infirmity of my soul.
O Lord, send Thy grace to my help, that I may glorify Thy holy name.
Troparion, tone 8: When Thy glorious Disciples were enlightened at the supper by the feet washing, then the impious Judas was darkened with the disease of avarice, and he delivered Thee, the Just Judge, to the lawless judges. See, O lover of money, this man through money came to hang himself. Flee the insatiable desire which dared to do such things to the Master. O Lord, Who art good towards all, glory to Thee.
Konlakion, tone 2: Having taken bread in his hand, the traitor secretly stretches it out, and takes a price for Him Who with His own hands made man. And Judas remained an incorrigible slave and liar.
Holy Thursday Morning – Matthew 26:2-20, John 13:3-17, Matthew 26:21-39, Luke 22:43-45, and Matthew 26:40-27:2. On Holy Thursday morning, we ascend Mt. Zion with Christ and the Twelve and enter into the upper room. Once there, we witness the awesome moment when, at the Last Supper, Christ abolishes the ritual practice of the Old Covenant and establishes the ritual of the New Covenant, prophesied by Jeremiah, through the Sacrament of Holy Communion. The faithful receive Holy Communion at that Holiest of Liturgies.
Holy Thursday Evening – In this service, we commemorate the undeserved suffering of Jesus Christ, endured for our sake, so that we might be reconciled anew to God our Father. The Gospel readings witness for us the betrayal and arrest of Jesus, his trial and conviction, and finally his torture, crucifixion and death at the hands of a sinful humanity. This evening’s service also includes the procession representing Christ carrying His own cross along the Via Dolorosa, and ends when we see before us the King of Glory crucified. Twelve Gospel Readings.
Prayer: O Lord Jesus Christ, write me Thy servant in the Book of Life, and grant me a good end.
O Lord my God, even though I have done nothing good in Thy sight, yet grant me by Thy grace to make a good beginning.
Troparion, tone 4: Thou hast redeemed us from the curse of the Law by Thy precious Blood. By being nailed to the Cross and pierced with the Spear, Thou hast poured immortality on mankind. O our Saviour, glory to Thee.
Kontakion, tone 8: Come, let us all praise Him Who was crucified for us. For Him it was Whom Mary beheld on the Tree, and said: Even though Thou endurest the cross, Thou art my Son and my God.
Troparia, tone 2: (Vespers and Saturday Matins)
Noble Joseph took Thy immaculate Body down from the tree, wrapped It in a clean shroud and spices, and having embalmed It, laid It in a new sepulchre. But on the third day Thou didst rise, O Lord, granting to the world great mercy.
The Angel stood by the tomb and cried to the Myrrh-bearing women: Myrrh is fitting for the dead, but Christ has shown Himself free from corruption.
Holy Friday Afternoon – I Corinthians 1:18-2:2, Matthew 27:1-38, Luke 23:39-43, Matthew 27:39-54, John 19:31-37, and Matthew 27:55-61. In this service, we are once again reverent witnesses to the undeserved suffering of Christ, to his terrible passion and death. What is remembered in a special way through liturgical commemoration and procession, is the faithfulness and love of Joseph of Arimathea who tenderly removed Christ’s body from the cross, wrapped it in clean linen, and carried it to his own unused tomb for burial.
Holy Friday Evening – Ezekiel 37:1-14, I Corinthians 5:6-8, Galatians 3:13-14, Matthew 27:62-66. On Good Friday evening, the theme is Christ’s descent into Hades during which the Gospel of repentance and reconciliation with God is shared with those who died before Christ’s saving dispensation in the flesh. The service begins with lamentations sung as we stand before the tomb of Christ commemorating His unjust punishment and the shedding of His innocent blood. But the service ends on a note of joy and hope, with the reading of the Prophet Ezekiel in which he describes his vision of our resurrection yet to come; in the midst of despair, we are told there is hope, for not even death can separate us from the unfailing love and power of God. Death is about to be conquered and faithfulness rewarded.
Prayer: O Lord, sprinkle into my heart the dew of Thy grace.
O Lord of heaven and earth, remember me Thy sinful servant, shameful and unclean, in Thy kingdom. Amen.
Holy Saturday Morning – Romans 6:3-11, Matthew 28:1-20. On Holy Saturday morning we celebrate the theme of faithfulness receiving its reward. The crucifixion is over, Christ is buried, the twelve apostles and other disciples are scattered and defeated. And yet, three myrrh-bearing women come in faithfulness to perform the last act of love–to anoint Jesus according to the Jewish burial custom. Their unwavering devotion is rewarded–they are the first to share in Christ’s triumph over evil and death. They are the first witnesses to the Resurrection. This joy is commemorated through the scattering of bay leaves and rose petals by the priest.
HOLY AND GREAT SATURDAY: Troparia, tone 2: When Thou, the Deathless Life, didst go down to death, then didst Thou slay hell by the lightning flash of Thy Divinity. And when Thou didst raise the dead from the lower world, all the Powers of Heaven cried aloud: Christ our God, Giver of Life, glory to Thee. The Angel…
Kontakion, tone 2: He Who closed the abyss is seen as dead and wrapped in a shroud and spices; He, the Immortal, as mortal is laid in the tomb; women came to anoint Him, and they wept bitterly and exclaimed: This is the ever-blessed Sabbath on which Christ, Who fell asleep, shall rise on the third day.
Prayer: O Lord, accept me in penitence.
O Lord, forsake me not.
EVENING OF SATURDAY/PASCHA
Holy Saturday Evening – Easter Sunday Morning – Mark 16:1-8. The lamentations of the previous night are repeated and the church is plunged into darkness to symbolise the despair and defeat experienced before the dawn of Christ’s victory over the Enemy of our salvation. Precisely at midnight, a single light emerges from the altar representing the victory of Christ over death, the defeat of the Prince of Darkness by Jesus, the Light of the World. As the light is passed from person to person, it pushes back the darkness of the church and defeats it completely. The Resurrection is proclaimed in song and triumphant procession, and after the Liturgy, its light is carried into our homes so that they too might be filled with its light and warmth and triumph.
Easter Sunday Morning – John 20:19-25. Christ’s Resurrection and victory is affirmed in this morning’s theme. The Gospel is read in several languages to illustrate the universality of the Good News of the Resurrection and its proclamation to the very ends of the earth. Love, forgiveness, reconciliation, triumph and joy–these are the gifts which we receive because Christ lived and died and triumphed for our sake.