April 14, 2020

Holy and Great Wednesday (Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos)

By Archimandrite Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

On Great Wednesday we perform the commemoration of the event of the anointing of the Lord with myrrh by the harlot woman. The Church also reminds us of the gathering of the Sanhedrin of the Jews, their highest court, which decided to condemn the Lord, as well as Judas' betrayal of his Teacher.

The hymns of today refer to these themes. After the troparion is chanted that has been chanted over the past two days, "Behold, the Bridegroom comes...," it is followed by three Kathismata and then the Gospel (John 12:17-50) and the 50th Psalm. The Canon of the day consists of three Odes (3, 8 and 9), which begin with the Irmos, "You have established me on the rock of faith...," which has the acrostic "On the Fourth Day I shall chant." It should be noted that the acrostic for the Canon over the course of the three days - Great Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday - are nine in number and not eight: Great Monday - "On the Second Day I shall chant," Great Tuesday - "On the Third Day I shall chant." This is followed by the chanting of the Exaposteilarion which is the same chanted the last two days, "I see Your bridal chamber...." Then the Stichera and the Aposticha.

In the end is chanted the troparion of the pious scholarly poetess of Byzantium, Kassiani, whom story-tellers have bad-mouthed viciously, presenting her, falsely and slanderously, as a harlot. Kassiani the poetess was not a harlot, but the heroine of her poem was, namely the woman who anointed the Lord with myrrh. As for the number of women who anointed the Lord with myrrh, the interpreters are not in agreement. Some say it was just one, others two, and yet others three. Here is not the place to analyze this issue.

Over the course of these three days, namely Great Monday, Great Tuesday, and Great Wednesday, intertwined with Vespers, the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is celebrated. This Liturgy is done during the morning hours, because Matins is done in the evenings the previous day, as we have previously explained.

Source: Η Μεγάλη Εβδομάς μετά ερμηνείας, 9η έκδ. Αθήνα, Αποστολική Διακονία της Εκκλησίας της Ελλάδος, 2002. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.