Great and Holy Saturday

Great and Holy Saturday is the day on which Christ reposed in the tomb. The Church calls this day the Blessed Sabbath.

“The great Moses mystically foreshadowed this day when he said:
God blessed the seventh day.
This is the blessed Sabbath
This is the day of rest,
on which the only-begotten Son of God rested from all His works....”

(Vesperal Liturgy of Holy Saturday)

By using this title the Church links Holy Saturday with the creative act of God. In the initial account of creation as found in the Book of Genesis, God made man in His own image and likeness. To be truly himself, man was to live in constant communion with the source and dynamic power of that image: God. Man fell from God. Now Christ, the Son of God through whom all things were created, has come to restore man to communion with God. He thereby completes creation. All things are again as they should be. His mission is consummated. On the Blessed Sabbath He rests from all His works.

Great and Holy Friday

Great and Holy Friday

On Great and Holy Friday, Christ died on the Cross. He gave up His spirit with the words: “It is finished” (John 19:30). These words are better understood when rendered: “It is consummated.” He had accomplished the work for which His heavenly Father had sent Him into the world. He became a man in the fullest sense of the word. He accepted the baptism of repentance from John in the Jordan River. He assumed the whole human condition, experiencing all its alienation, agony, and suffering, concluding with the lowly death on the Cross. He perfectly fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

Holy and Great Friday

It was the sight we now commemorate in the present Church service, and behold in the sacred Image before our eyes. The sight was the Son of God, Who came down from the heavens, became man for the salvation of the human race, and was mocked and scourged by men.

What feeling, if not that of horror, should wholly envelope the heart at this sight? What state, if not a state of absolute bewilderment, should be our state of mind? What word could be pronounced at this sight? Does not every human word die upon the lips, before it can even proceed from the lips?

All those who came to this sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.

Holy and Great Thursday

Commemoration of the Mystical (Last) Supper

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Mt. 26:26–28

The Mystical (Last) Supper. Fresco, Catholicon of Vatopedi Monastery, Mt. Athos. 1312. The Mystical (Last) Supper. Fresco, Catholicon of Vatopedi Monastery, Mt. Athos. 1312.

On the day of the feast of unleavened bread, when according to the Law of the Old Testament a lamb was to be slaughtered and eaten, the hour was come that the Savior should depart out of this world unto the Father (cf. Jn. 13:1). Having come to fulfill the law, Jesus Christ sent His disciples, Peter and John, to Jerusalem to prepare the Passover, which, as the shadow of the law, He wanted to exchange it with the New Pascha—His own Body and Blood. When evening had come, the Lord came with His twelve disciples to a large, prepared upper room of a man who lived in Jerusalem (cf. Mk. 14:12–17) and reclined there. Telling them that the Kingdom of God, which is not of this world, and not earthly greatness and glory, but love, humility, and purity of spirit is what distinguishes its members, the Lord rose from the table and washed the feet of His disciples. Having washed the feet and again reclined, the Lord said to His disciples: Do you know what I have done for you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say correctly, for I am exactly that. Thus, if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, then you should wash each others’ feet. For I have given you an example, so that you would do the same thing I have done for you.

Great and Holy Wednesday

Judas stretched forth his hand to the lawless. She sought the remission of her sins, while he took the pieces of silver. The harlot brought myrrh to anoint the Lord; the disciple made an agreement with the lawless. She rejoiced when she spent the precious myrrh; he set out to sell Him who has no price. She recognized her Master, while he departed from his Master. She was freed from sin, but he became the captive of sin.