Each day of Holy Week has significant scriptural teaching to prepare and alert us in our faith journey.
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. The preceding Saturday commemorates the raising of Lazarus (John 11:11-46) when Jesus’ power over death would be shown to his disciples and others. This was an example of the coming resurrection of all those who have fallen asleep in Christ.
Palm Sunday observes Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem as he rode on a donkey with crowds gathered to greet him spreading cloaks and branches before him, shouting “Hosanna in the highest” to welcome the long-awaited Messiah.
In the Armenian Church, on this day the altar curtain which is drawn closed during the 40-day Lent period is reopened with the Trnpatsek (Door Opening) service. The closure of the altar curtain on the Eve of Lent relates to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden having eaten the fruit of the forbidden tree. As Lent is a time for reflection, repentance and renewal of faith for sinful man and as Adam was banished from Paradise, the faithful are precluded from sharing in the holy sacrament of Communion over this period.
Holy Monday recalls the story of the cursed fig tree in Matthew 21:18-22. This parable reminds us that genuine faith means bearing fruit for God’s kingdom. Appearing to have faith without putting it to work in our lives is like the fig tree that withered and died, because it bore no fruit.
Holy Tuesday focuses on the parable of the Ten Maidens in Matthew 25:1-13, five foolish and five wise, each one responsible for herself. With this parable we are urged to be prepared and alert for the Second Coming of Christ.
Holy Wednesday recounts the event in Matthew 26:6-13 when a woman (Mary) anoints Jesus with an expensive perfume. We are reminded of the devotion, worship and glory owing to Christ.
Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Our Lord Jesus Christ when he ate the Passover meal with his disciples (Matthew 26:20-30). He instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion by eating the bread and drinking the wine.
Divine Liturgy is held in the morning to mark the establishment of the New Covenant. In the evening the Washing of the Feet service is held demonstrating Jesus’ servant attitude (John 13:1-20). An evening prayer vigil Khavaroum (meaning darkness) is held until late depicting the sleepless torment of Christ’s final hours on earth.
Good Friday commemorates the Crucifixion Service recalling the suffering, execution and death of Christ. The Burial Service is conducted in the late afternoon when a tomb is adorned with flowers which are distributed as a remembrance among the faithful at the conclusion of the service. Requiem services for loved ones are also conducted at this service.
Holy Saturday is the Eve of Easter when the Divine Liturgy is celebrated to herald the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church lights are dimmed during this service afore the joyful candle lighting ceremony known as Jrakalooyts.
Holy Sunday is the Feast of the Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ when we celebrate the Risen Christ and rejoice with the greeting:
Christ is Risen from the dead – Blessed is the Resurrection of Christ!