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Services in Holy Week

posted Mar 26, 2010, 12:16 AM by   [ updated Mar 26, 2010, 12:17 AM by Yulia Russiyanova ]
Dear parents and families,

My greetings and warm wishes in this final week of Great and Holy Lent, as we prepare to enter into the Holy Week of the Passion that will lead us to Pascha and the Lord's resurrection. I hope that Lent has been spiritually profitable for each of you and your families: I have benefited myself from watching your children approach the fast with enthusiasm and zeal, and from the various discussions, prayers and services in which we have been involved together as a school community. Soon we will come together, as one Christian family, to the bright resurrection of our Saviour - and how much more profound will our joy be, for having journeyed to this great day together through the disciplines, struggles and growth of Lent!

May I take this opportunity to call to mind how important is participation in the various services of Holy Week: this a critical part of our children's (as well as our own) spiritual life each year, and from St. John's perspective, attendance at these services is a central part of each student's Orthodox formation. While our normal classes conclude with a half day on Holy Wednesday, they do so specifically to enable families to attend the remaining services of the week together. Thursday and Friday in Holy Week are technically 'school days' on our academic calendar, even if they do not involve on-campus teaching -- for formation in the services is a key part of our educational mission, and we expect all our students and their families to be in the services on these days.

My hope is that families will attend as many of the Holy Week services together as is possible, since each helps draw us closer to Holy Pascha and form in us the discipline and joy to participate more deeply in this central mystery of our faith. However, at a very minimum St. John's requires its students to attend the following key services of Holy Week:
  • The vigil for Palm Sunday of Saturday evening (at the Cathedral, if your family worships there, there will be two vigils held from which one can choose: the first at 3.30 p.m., the second at 6.00 p.m.)
  • The Divine Liturgy of Palm Sunday (7.30 a.m. / 9.45 a.m.)
  • The Divine Liturgy and Washing of Feet on Holy Wednesday (10.00 a.m.)
  • The 12 Passion Gospels service on Holy Wednesday (6.00 p.m.)
  • The bringing out of the holy shroud / burial service of Holy Friday (1.00 p.m.)
  • Paschal midnight services (Sunday of Pascha, 12.00 midnight)
Please note that I have indicated here the times of the services as they will be held at the Cathedral; however, families are welcomed and encouraged to participate in any/all of these services at their usual/home parish - you do not need to come to the Cathedral specially. Also, participation in these services is as a family, so children need not wear their school uniforms as had been done during the first week of Great Lent when we stood together as a school. If, however, you do plan to worship at the Cathedral for these services, please could I remind you how important it is for children to be in Church with their families (or, if work or other obligations mean you are not able to be in a service with your child, that they are there with another parent or adult): children are, after all, children - and the temptations to misbehave, run about, etc., are sometimes hard to resist! Ensuring that your children are not simply dropped off at church, but present at the services together with you or another adult, helps them focus on the prayers, on family, and on the miracles being wrought before them.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions about the services of Holy Week, or any other queries. I'm always very happy to hear from you.

Finally, please remember me, our teachers and staff, and all our community in your prayers in the days ahead! May we come together to the true, abiding, and unending joy of our dear Saviour's rising from the dead.

Hieromonk Irenei

13th / 26th March 2010