Having come to the end of Great Lent, we now find ourselves in Holy and Great Week, the heart of our Orthodox faith and the centre of the Church festal calendar. Holy Week begins on the evening of Palm Sunday with the first of three Matins services known as the Bridegroom Matins services. In Holy Week, the normal order of holding Vespers in the evening and Matins in the morning is reversed, thus the evening services of Holy Week are Matins (Orthros) services while the morning services are Vespers services.
The Bridegroom services of the first half of Holy Week remind us that Christ is the Bridegroom and we, His Church, are His bride. The three key themes of these services are: repentance, vigilance, and the Second Coming. Let us not be like the virgins who had no oil for their lamps or the fig tree that bore no fruit. Let us remember that the parables read during this week’s services are directed at us, and not simply at those contemporaries of Christ whom He spoke to directly when He dwelled on earth. During this first half of Holy Week, we ask ourselves, are we like the publican who confesses his sins and asks the Lord for mercy, or are we like the pharisee who prides himself on being faithful to the law and is certain of his fate? Now is the time, as we approach Pascha, to truly repent of our sins and to prepare for the Second Coming of our Lord, for we do not know the hour when He will come.
“Your marriage chamber, my Saviour, I see arrayed, and I have no wedding robe, That I might enter. Clothe me with brightness, giver of light, And save me.”
From the Bridegroom Matins Schedule of Services