My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE
HOLY AND GREAT WEEK (Part II)
HOLY AND GREAT WEDNESDAY
On this day, Holy and Great WEDNESDAY,
the Holy Fathers have ordained that
remembrance is to be made of the
ANOINTING OF THE LORD WITH MYRRH by
the harlot, for this, took place shortly prior to
the SAVING PASSION.
The woman pouring out myrrh on the body of Christ anticipates the
myrrh and aloes of Nikodemos.
"O Lord, the woman who had fallen into many sins, perceiving Thy
Divinity, took up the duty of myrrh-bearer; and, lamenting, she brought
to Thee sweet-smelling myrrh oils before Thy burial."
"Thou, O Christ God, Who wast anointed with noetic
myrrh, by Thine abundant sufferings, do Thou set us free and
show us mercy, for Thou alone art good and the Lover of
Great Wednesday Vespers Presanctified Liturgy: Matthew 26:6-12
"Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper
[Matthew26:6], a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of
very costly perfumed ointment and she poured it upon His head
as He reclined at table" [Matthew 26:7].
Saint John Chrysostom observes that "it is not without purpose that the Evangelist Matthew mentions the leprosy of Simon. He did so in order that He might show from what quarter the woman took confidence and came to Jesus. For inasmuch as the leprosy seemed a most unclean disease, and to be abhorred, and yet she saw Jesus had both healed the man (for else He would not have chosen to have tarried with a leper and had gone into his house. She, as a result, grew confident, that He would also easily wipe off the uncleanness of her soul."
"And not for naught does Matthew name the city also, Bethany, but that thou mightiest learn, that OF HIS OWN WILL HE COMES TO HIS PASSION. For He Who before this was fleeing through the midst of them, then, at the same time when their envy was most kindled, comes within less than two miles, so completely was His former withdrawing Himself a part of a dispensation.
The woman, therefore, having seen Him, and having taken confidence from thence came unto Him. For if she that had the issue of blood, although conscious to herself of nothing like this, yet because of that natural-seeming UNCLEANNESS, approached Him trembling and in fear; more was it a likely this woman should be slow, AND SHRUNK BACK BECAUSE OF HER EVIL CONSCIENCE.
Wherefore, also, it is after many women–the Samaritaness, the Cananaean, the one wi the issue of blood, and others besides–that she comes to Him, BEING CONSCIOUS TO HERSELF OF MUCH IMPURITY. Note also that she did not draw near publicly BUT IN A HOUSE. And whereas all the others were coming to Christ FOR THE HEALING OF THE BODY ALONE, SHE CAME TO HIM BY WAY OF HONOR ONLY, AND FOR THE AMENDMENT OF THE SOUL. For neither was she at all afflicted in body, so that for this most especially one might marvel at her.
"Furthermore, not as to mere man did she come to Him, otherwise she would not have wiped His feet with her hair. She came before Him as to One GREATER THAN MAN CAN BE. Therefore, that which is the most honorable member of the whole body, this she had at Christ’s feet, even here own head."
THE ANOINTING OF THE FAITHFUL
The anointing is NOT a substitute for the Mystery (Sacrament) of Repentance/Confession. The Holy Oil (Efchelaion or Holy Unction) is ONLY administered to those IN COMMUNION WITH THE CHURCH, WHICH PRESUPOSES THOSE ENGAGED IN AN ACTIVE SACRAMENTAL LIFE OF REGULAR CONFESSION AND FREQUENT HOLY COMMUNION.
HEALING AND FORGIVENESS ARE CONNECTED. The DIAKONIA (Ministry) OF HEALING the sick began with the early Church. Spreading the Gospel, the primary concern of the Orthodox Church was often attended to the care of orphans and widows, collection of alms, and caring for one’s neighbor. The brohter of the Lord, Iakovos (James), writes in his epistle (letter): "Is anyone among you suffering ill? Let him keep on praying. Is anyone cheerful? Let him keep on chanting. Is anyone among you infirm? Let him CALL THE PRESBYTERS (Priests) of the Church; and let them PRAY OVER HIM, HAVING ANOINTED HIM WITH OIL IN THE NAME OF THE LORD. And the prayer of faith shall save the one who is sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; AND IF HE BEONE WHO HATH COMMITTED SINS, IT SHALL BE FORGIVEN HIM. KEEP ON CONFESSING YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS TO ONE ANOTHER AND PRAYING FOR ONE ANOTHER, THAT YOU MIGHT BE HEALED. THE ENTREATY OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN HAS MUCH STRENGTH WHEN IT IS ENERGIZED" (James 5:13-16).
CONSECRATED OIL BESTOWED PERFECTION ON CHRISTIANS, PRIESTS, KINGS, AND PROPHETS. Oil was used to anoint the sick and BRING PENITENTS BACK INTO THE CHURCH. The anointing of the sick IS THE OLDEST EXTANT Efchologion dating from the late 8th century. The fuller rubrics for the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, dating from 1027 A.D., indicate that the RITE may be PERFORMED IN A DOMESTIC CHURCH BY SEVEN PRESBYTERS (PRIESTS) ON SEVEN CONSECUTIVE DAYS–WITH A DIFFERENT PRESBYTER PRESIDING EACH DAY DURING THE PROSKOMIDE.
With regard o Slavic usage, the rite of anointing was practiced essentially as in the Greek churches. Since the Slavs adhered closer to having SEVEN PRIESTS CARRY OUT THE RITE, THE SERVICE DEVOLVED UPON THE LARGE MONASTERIES AND CATHEDRALS TO CARRY OUT THE REQUIREMENT WHERE THERE WERE SUFFICIENT CLERGYMEN.
THE RITE has the WHOLE CHURCH gathered around the sick members. Seven Presbyters, A NUMBER EXPRESSING THE FULLNESS, PARTICIPATE. The sick person no longer feels isolated and alone but integrated into the body of the Christ. ALL SHOULD ATTEND, for "WE" who are many, ARE ONE BODY IN CHRIST, AND EACH ONE MEMBER OF ONE ANOTHER [Romans 12:5]. For"EVEN AS THE BODY IS ONE AND HAS MANY MEMBERS, AND ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE ONE BODY, BEING MANY, ARE ONE BODY, SO ALSO IS THE CHRIST. FOR ALSO BY ONE SPIRIT WERE WE ALL BAPTIZED INTO ONE BODY–WHETHER JEWS OR GREEKS,WHETHER SLAVES OR FREE–AND WERE ALL GIVEN TO DRINK INTO ONE SPIRIT. FOR ALSO THE BODY IS NOT ONE MEMBER, BUT MANY" [1 Corinthians 12:12-14]. Therefore, "WE ARE MEMBERS OF HIS BODY, OF HIS FLESH, AND OF HIS BONES" [Ephesians 5:30].
There are seven blessings, seven epistles, and seven gospels that are read during the divine service. During the Sixth Prayer (blessing) of anointing, the priest gives thanks and says, "We thank Thee, O Lord our God, Who art good and lovest mankind, the Physician of OUR SOULS AND BODIES, Who painlessly has born our infirmities, by Whose stripes we have all ALL BEEN HEALED; Thou Good Shepherd, Who didst come to seek the wandering sheep; Who givest consolation to the fainthearted, and life unto those who are broken of heart…do Thou LOOSE, REMIT, FORGIVE, O GOD, THE SINS OF THY SERVANTS AND THEIR INIQUITIES WHETHER VOLUNTARY OR INVOLUNTARY, WHETHER OF KNOWLEDGE OR OF IGNORANCE…". [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George