Great and Holy Wednesday

Great and Holy Wednesday is the third day of Great and Holy Week - the final week before the feast of Pascha. During the days of Great and Holy Week, we follow the events in the life of our Savior from his entry into Jerusalem to his glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday.

At Matins

As on Great and Holy Monday and Great and Holy Tuesday, Bridegroom Matins is held on Wednesday morning (or anticipated on Tuesday evening). This is the last time we will sing the troparion of the Bridegroom: "Behold, the Bridegroom is coming in the middle of the night..."

From Saint Matthew's Gospel which was read at Matins on the preceding days, we turn to the Gospel according to Saint John (12:17-50). We hear our Lord say, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."

The kontakion and the other hymns of Matins contrast the love and repentence of the sinful woman who anointed the Lord Jesus' feet with perfume and dried them with her hair (Luke 7:36-42), with the plotting of the scribes and Pharisees, and Judas' first moves toward the betrayal of Christ.

At the Hours

As on Tuesday, we hear more of the propecy of Ezekiel. In monasteries, the rest of the Gospel according to Saint Luke, and two-thirds of the Gospel according to Saint John are read, ending just before the account of our Lord's Passover meal with his disciples.

At the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

The reading from Exodus (2:11-22) relates the story of Moses fleeing from Pharaoh's court in Egypt, and going to Midian, where he befriends a family and is taken in by them, marries Zipporah, and has a son (Gershom).

The reading from Job (2:1-10) tells how Job's health was taken away from him, and how his wife went so far as to say, "Curse God, and die!" To which Job replies, "We accept good things at the hand of God; should we not accept evil?"

In the reading from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew (26:6-16) at the Presanctified Liturgy, a woman anoints the Lord with costly perfume in the town of Bethany - in preparation, our Lord says, for his burial. Afterwards, Judas Iscariot goes to the chief priests and offers to betray the Lord into their hands.

Holy Anointing

In many places, it is customary during Great and Holy Week for the Sacrament of Holy Oil (holy anointing of the sick) to be given to all the faithful who request it, in recognition of the fact that all of us suffer from physical, emotional, and spiritual ills, not all of which are immediately apparent. This anointing is often done as part of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts on Great and Holy Wednesday, the day on which we also commemorate the anointing of Jesus at Bethany.

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