On this Holy Monday:
Let us pray to the Lord,
O you who observe all things with your eye that never sleeps, who afford us such saving lessons in your desire to grant mercy to all who seek it: We give you thanks for this evening that brings us before you once more. Now that we have completed the lenten season, enable us to enter into the week of the saviour’s passion with renewed earnestness and purpose. Drive far from us all sluggishness and dullness of mind and heart, and help us to break out of the prison of our mediocrity. As we ponder the story of Joseph, who, without knowing it, prefigured your Christ, enable us to imitate his wisdom and courage, that we, too, may be like your Son. And, lest we become sterile like the fig tree, bring our feeble efforts to fruition, that we may be worthy of the coming resurrection.
By the grace and mercy and love for us of your only Son, with whom you are blest, together with your all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit: now and forever, and unto ages of ages. Amen. (A prayer of Fr. Laurence)
Holy Week gives us ample opportunity to prepare ourselves well to celebrate Pascha and prepare our lives to meet the Lord.
Look at our Lesson today in Matthew 24:3-35:
At that time, as Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the sufferings.
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come.
So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. And alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Lo, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Lo, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Lo, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; if they say, ‘Lo, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Holy Week gives us ample opportunity to fight mediocrity in faith by drawing us to a purposeful practice of our faith in Christ; by preparing ourselves for “the Coming of the Lord.” This “week of weeks” offers us an embarrassment of riches in spiritual fruit all for the taking if only we will overcome our temptations to mediocrity in faith and devotion.
Today, fight the spirit of mediocrity in your heart, the temptation to “do as little as possible” and still call yourself Orthodox. Because this kind of Orthodoxy cannot reproduce itself in the lives of your children, your friends, family, and community. A sterile faith dies with you and there is nothing of a legacy to leave to succeeding generations except the stigma of unfaithfulness.
A blessed Holy Week. Let us finish well.