Saturday, April 16, 2011

Holy Week Notes

Prepared for the Church of St Columba and All Hallows, East York, Toronto
by the Reverend Dr William Craig,
The liturgy of Holy Week and our attention in that week centre on the great events of the Triduum, the Three Holy Days; but we should not neglect what might be called, if it is not too flippant, the three little days, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Nonetheless, because the ‘great days’ take so much attention, we can only provide here a slight introduction to the readings of these days, which we hope to imporve in later versions of this book.
The days between Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday are known as Holy Monday (or Fig Monday), Holy Tuesday and Holy Wednesday (sometimes called Spy Wednesday). The Gospels of these days do not attempt to give a chronological sequence of events between the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and his Last Supper. For instance, the Gospel on Holy Monday relates the Anointing at Bethany (John 12:1-9), which occurred the day before the Entry (John 12:12-19).
A custom of the Roman Church which has been adopted in many Anglican dioceses is the Chrism Mass of Maundy Thursday, at which the bishop celebrates with the priests of the dioese, or as many as can be there, and consecrates the holy oils used in baptism and in the sacrament of healing. As in the Roman church, this rite may be brought forward to one of the earlier days in the week. This is partly for the practical reason of enabling as many priests as possible to be present with the bishop, and partly for the liturgical reason that the evening mass on Maundy Thursday should be the only one that day. In the Diocese of Toronto this rite is celebrated on Holy Tuesday at 10.30 a.m. at the Cathedral.
These ‘little days’ should be kept as much as the ‘great days’ of Holy week. If it is impossible for you to atttend a celebration of the Holy Eucharist, you can still use the Collect for the day and read the appointed passages of Scripture, thereby joining your prayers to those of the whole Church. To this end, we print the Collects here.

The name ‘Fig Monday’ is derived from the Gospel account of Jesus cursing the fig tree the day after the Entry into Jersualem (see Mark 11.12-14).
Almighty God, whose Son was crucified yet entered into glory, may we, walking in the way of the cross, find it is for us the way of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Isaiah 42.1-9: 1-4: The first Servant Song (see also 49.1-6; 50.4-11; 52.13-53.12: for a good understanding, they should be read together). poems about God’s special agent who will fulfill his purpose for the faithful community; though innocent, he will suffer for his people. The first Servant Song is read at Mass on Holy Monday, the Second on Holy Tuesday, part of the Third is used at Mass on Holy Wednesday, and the Fourth at the Liturgy of Good Friday.
Psalm 36.5–11 is a hymn in praise of God’s love and justice and a prayer for his continuing protection.
Hebrews 9.11–15 contrasts the repeated and limited sacrifices of the old Covenant with the sacrifice of Christ, the mediator of the new Covenant.
John 12.1–11 tells of the dinner at Bethany the evening before Palm Sunday, at which Mary anointed the Lord Jesus with precious oil of nard, and Judas scolded her for wasting what could have been sold and spent on the poor. Jesus rebuked Judas and praised Mary, saying, ‘Let her alone that she may keep it for the day of my preparation for burial’.

(BAS, p. 302)
O God, by the passion of your blessed Son, you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life. May our lives be so transformed by his passion that we may witness to his grace; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Isaiah 49.1–7: This is the second of the Servant Songs.
Psalm 71.1–14 is described in NOAB as ‘an old man’s prayer for deliverance from personal enemies’.
1 Corinthians 1.18–31: St Paul declares that the message of ther Cross is the wisdom and power of God, wiser than the wisdom of this world.
John 12.20–36: When Gentile inquirers come to see Jesus, he declares that now his hour has come. The hour is the moment of his manifestation as the One sent by the Father. The hour is fully come when he is lifted up on the Cross.

(BAS p. 303)

The name ‘Spy Wednesday’ refers to Judas's agreement with the high priests, traditionally said to have been made on the Wednesday before the Crucifixion, to betray Jesus. This is refelcted not only in today’s Gospel, but in the proper Psalm for Morning Prayer. In Psalm 55 we read:
13 For had it been an adversary who taunted me, then I could have borne it; * or had it been an enemy who vaunted himself against me, then I could have hidden from him.
14 But it was you, a man after my own heart, * my companion, my own familiar friend.
15 We took sweet counsel together, * and walked with the throng in the house of God.
21 My companion stretched forth his hand against his comrade; * he has broken his covenant.
22 His speech is softer than butter, * but war is in his heart.
23 His words are smoother than oil, * but they are drawn swords.
Compare these some verses from Psalm 41:
7 All my enemies whisper together about me * and devise evil against me.
8 “A deadly thing,” they say, “has fastened on him; * he has taken to his bed and will never get up again.”
9 Even my best friend, whom I trusted, who broke bread with me, * has lifted up his heel and turned against me.
Lord God, your Son our Saviour gave his body to be whipped and turned his face for men to spit upon. Give your servants grace to accept suffering for his sake, confident of the glory that will be revealed, through Jesus Christ our Lord who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Isaiah 50.4–9a: this reading is from the third song of the Lord’s Servant [Isaiah 50.4-11].
Psalm 70 is a prayer for deliverance from personal enemies.
Hebrews 12.1–3. In this exhortation to ‘run the race’, Christians are exhorted to look to the example fo Jesus, who endured the pain of the cross and its shame.
John 13.21–32. Jesus identifies his betrayer, who oes out from the Last Supper into the night.

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