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"BEHOLD THE BRIDEGROOM COMETH IN THE MIDST OF THE NIGHT..."

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Today begins Holy Week in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Great Week marks the beginning of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ’s Persecution, Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.

Monday of Holy Week memorializes Joseph and the fig tree, which Jesus cursed and withered. The miracle of the fig tree revealed the tree’s inability to bear fruit, although it could still grow its leaves. Jesus cursed the tree: "May no fruit ever come from you again!" (Matt. 21:19). Tonight begins with the Hymn of the Bridegroom: "Behold the Bridegroom comes in the midst of the night...beware, therefore, O my soul, lest thou be borne down in sleep...and lest thou be shut out from the Kingdom..."

For the Eastern Orthodox Christians, and Catholics, we walk the steps of our Lord Jesus through the days of Holy Week. Each day has its own purpose and significance, bringing us one-step closer to our Lord’s death and resurrection, and ultimately Pascha or Easter. For instance, on Wednesday of Holy Week, we honor the anointing of Christ with myrrh by the woman in the house of Simon, the leper, in Bethany. The sacred ceremony of Holy Unction takes place on Wednesday evening.

During Holy Week, there should be heavy prayer and repentance, along with abstinence from inappropriate behaviors, including alcohol or drug consumption and sexual acts. It is crucial to remember what this week represents. Try not to get too angry or frustrated at your neighbor or brother. Lower your voices and refrain from obscenities or cursing. Instead, stay more reserved and be mindful of each day that passes.

Think about what our Lord went through during this time, leading up to His Passion and Death on Thursday and Friday. Then, allow your spirits to be lifted once we reach Saturday night service leading to His Resurrection, exclaiming that He is Risen!

Aside from the celebration of our Lord’s Birth, the Paschal Season is one to respect and honor fully. If you are unable to attend all the church services, make efforts to watch the Passion of the Christ film, where you can have this Holy Week put in perspective. You will be surprised of the emotion that will be driven from you by this film. It truly awakens our hearts and minds to the true understanding of Holy Week and our Lord’s Great Passion.

May God be with all of your during this week, nearing the end of our Lenten Journey. Ensure you are prayer and repenting as much as you can. Also, take time to thank our Lord for His great Sacrifices for us sinners. Be mindful of your behavior this week and God Bless.

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