The narrative of our Lord's Passion — His suffering, death and resurrection — begins in earnest on Holy Thursday after supper. And we therefore began to read and meditate on it today at Vespers (which almost all Orthodox celebrated this morning by anticipation so that we wouldn't be up in the middle of the night tonight for the Matins service).
Tonight at Matins our reading and reflection will continue. We will read together the words of all four evangelists, woven into 12 composite texts that tell nearly the entire account of the Passion from Christ's last words to His disciples at the supper table to his burial by Joseph and Nicodemus. After each reading, we will sing hymns meditating on what we have just read, so that the significance of these events might pass into our hearts and we might give glory to our Lord and Savior. This service, which lasts more than 3 hours, is a wonderful opportunity to learn who our Lord is, to learn something about His love and humility which truly surpass our understanding.
Tomorrow morning at the Royal Hours we will continue our reading and meditation. At each of the four hours we will read a long excerpt from the narrative of one of the four evangelists, along with prophecies from the Old Testament and reflections by the Apostles in their epistles. We will also sing hymns reflecting on these texts.
May our Lord grant that, through prayerful attention during these services, we may each come to love Him more.