Beginning on Sunday, April 24th the community of St George began it’s solemn procession towards our Lord’s betrayal, crucifixion, entombment, and resurrection. Fr Aleksa and members of the St George community, began the week by traveling to St George in Hermitage, PA for Lenten Vespers. Fr Aleksa was the week’s homilist, preaching on the temptation we have to be distracted by the cares of this world – cares that can pull us away from growing in Christ.
On Great and Holy Monday and Tuesday the community served Bridegroom Matins in the evening. On Monday they reflected on the hymnography sung, likening all of us to a whitewashed tomb that looks beautiful on the outside while, at the same time, containing bones or a corpse within. Fr Aleksa juxtaposed this with the reading of Ezekiel from the Matins of Great and Holy Saturday – the joy of our Easter celebration is that our Lord takes those ‘dry bones’ that we conceal within and renews them; he, once again, breathes life into what was dead.
The Sacrament of Holy Unction was served on Great and Holy Wednesday to a large group of faithful from the St George community. On Great and Holy Thursday the Matins of Great and Holy Friday were sung in anticipation with the reading of the 12 Passion Gospels of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
On Great and Holy Friday the community was present for Vespers. As in previous years, when the appropriate time came during the service our Lord was removed from the cross, wrapped in a shroud by the women present, and taken to the tomb. Later in the service the Plashanitsa (burial shroud) was carried in solemn procession to the tomb. The faithful ended the service by venerating the burial place of our Lord. Later that evening, the parishioners gathered together again for the service of Lamentations. This beautiful service concluded with a candlelight procession around the church, with Fr Aleksa carrying the Gospel upon his head while a group of parishioners held the burial shroud over his head. As everyone entered the church again they passed under the shroud as well before it was placed back in the tomb.
At the Vesperal Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great on Holy Saturday, those present were treated to the transformation from dark to light as well as many Old Testament readings of prophecy that point to our Lord’s defeat of death. This was a spiritually refreshing Great and Holy week for all those who set aside time to journey with Christ to his glorious resurrection!