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The schedule of my Ruthenian Church has "Chanting of the 12 Passion Gospels" at noon on Friday. When looking at the Holy Week schedule, it seemed out of place to me, so I did some looking around.

It seems, while not completely uniform by any means, that most Orthodox churches I randomly sampled had this matins service late in the day on Holy Thursday. Most of the Eastern Catholic churches I sampled seem to have this service on Holy Friday.

My gut tells me the matins service was moved to Friday mid-day in the EC churches to cater to Roman or ex-Roman Catholics looking for a Stations of the Cross-type service.

Thoughts?

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My Ruthenian parish doesn't have this service, but the Ukrainian Catholic church in town has it on Holy Thursday at 6pm. The local Antiochian church will offer it next week, on their Holy Thursday, at 6pm.

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Some prefer the practice of doing Vespers in the morning and Matins in the evening during Holy Week and others prefer keeping Vespers in the evening and Matins in the morning. We do Holy Friday Matins 8am Friday morning. Holy Thursday we have Vesperal Liturgy of St Basil at 7pm.


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Our ACROD parish, and most that I know of, still retain the 12 Passion Gospels in the evening of holy Thursday. My dad told me that was the way it was when he grew up in the Greek Catholic Church prior to 1937. So I will assume that any transfer to the midday of Good Friday occurred after that point in time.

Fewer and fewer attend this venerable service and some Typicons do say that the Vesperal Liturgy of Holy Thursday may be celebrated late afternoon, early evening. We tried that one year and all 'he....l' broke loose - even though attendance was not impacted - same people came either way but....

We do Vesperal Liturgy on Thursday in the morning and Royal Hours in the morning of Good Friday and the Great Friday Vespers with procession at 7 p.m. in my parish. When Iwas a boy in Freeland, PA the Vespers was at 4 pm.

I guess there is no consistent answer.

And my father did tell me that growing up at SS. Peter and Paul Greek Catholic in Elizabeth, NJ during his childhood, they did Stations of the Cross so I don't think that transfering Matins to Friday was a substitute. Maybe others have a similar recollection. (That didn't cross with them to Orthodoxy - one of the few things that were 'left behind' in 1938....)


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Well, David, in *my* ACROD parish, I've inherited the practice of having the Vesperal Liturgy on Holy Thursday evening. I know of a number of other parishes in our Diocese that do the same.

I remember my first year at seminary, we had a marathon of services with Metropolitan Nicholas on Holy Thursday: at about 4:00 PM, he consecrated antimensia, then we had the Vesperal Liturgy at 5:00 PM, then the Washing of the Feet service at 6:30 PM, and Matins of Great Friday at 7:00 PM. Wow!

I think that the shift to having the Vesperal Liturgy on Holy Thursday evening is motivated by a desire to restore this Liturgy to its proper chronological time--truly having the "Mystical Supper" and not the "Mystical Breakfast." This restoration is helped by the fact that most parishes have experienced a serious decline in attendance at "Strasti".

Fr. David

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I think in general most folks, even the devout, are only coming to one service a day and that in the evening, aside from Sundays. So the evening service is going to be the better attened one no matter what it is in my experience.


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I don't disagree, my dad often talked of that before he retired, but never got around to it. When we tried the Vesperal Liturgy a few years back, it was hoped that there would be a better crowd but I suspect that folks got out of the habit of attending - particularly with the popularity of the Unction service on Wednesday of Holy Week and since the same people attended and complained about the switch, we went back the next year to the Strasti. No one comes to the Vesperal Liturgy in the morning so it is a losing battle. That is nothing new, I never remember much of a 'crowd' for that Liturgy although I always enjoyed singing the special tones for the day.

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Just to clarify, since it doesn't seem to have been mentioned. The twelve Gospels service is the Matins of Great Friday, so there is (in my opinion) nothing wrong with doing it on Great Friday - even noon, but obviously earlier would be better.

The fact that it is mostly done on Thursday probably has more to do with the general anticipation of Matins as a matter of course by the Slavs and the influence of the Slavic typikon on many eastern churches than anything else.

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As has been mentioned, you are generally only going to get people there for one evening service Thursday evening. While some may take off Great and Holy Friday other than the retirees you won't get many during the day on Thursday for the Vesperal Liturgy. Consistent with Ned's observations in the UGCC by far most parishes celebrate Strasti on Thursday evening, although there are a few that celebrate it on Friday morning.

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Thanks for the great answers.

The reason I brought it up is because my in-laws have begun to attend church with us, and from a Roman background they typically have attended the Stations on Good Friday. Seeing "Chanting of the 12 Passion Gospels" listed on Friday at noon led to the obvious question, "Oh is this kind of like Stations of the Cross?"

After some looking around, it seemed that mostly EC churches had it on Friday, and mostly OC churches on Thurs, so I wondered if those two dots connected the way they seemed.

Happily this forum is such a great resource for questions like this, thanks all for the perspective.

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It is the Greek tradition -- which therefore includes the Antiochian Orthodox and Melkites -- to anticipate the services of Great and Holy Week by about half a day (i.e., by about 12 hours).

This means that the Orthros services are usually celebrated the evening of the day before. The Twelve Gospels as mentioned above are part of the Orthros of Great & Holy Friday; but celebrated by the Greeks and Antiochians (Orthodox and Melkite) on Thursday evening.

Friday morning the Descent from the Cross is celebrated, which is actually the Vespers of Great & Holy Saturday.

You will find this mentioned even in the Typika.

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Originally Posted by Matta
It is the Greek tradition -- which therefore includes the Antiochian Orthodox and Melkites -- to anticipate the services of Great and Holy Week by about half a day (i.e., by about 12 hours).

This means that the Orthros services are usually celebrated the evening of the day before. The Twelve Gospels as mentioned above are part of the Orthros of Great & Holy Friday; but celebrated by the Greeks and Antiochians (Orthodox and Melkite) on Thursday evening.

Friday morning the Descent from the Cross is celebrated, which is actually the Vespers of Great & Holy Saturday.

You will find this mentioned even in the Typika.


This is also the tradition, which follows the Bulgarian Orthodox Church for these services smile

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Slava Isusu Khrestu

I have enjoyed these entries!
This reminds me of what our priest said one day concerning this very topic. "We sing and pray the orthros service in anticipation of the time". I like very much this term, "in anticipation"

I remember, when younger, celebrating birthdays and other family events both happy and sad, not on the day, but whenever because the individual was there and in the course of events would not be there on the specific day. Made sense then and does now.

Unworthy
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The popularity of the Violakis Typikon is largely responsible for the current shape of the anticipated timing of Holy Week services in the "Greek tradition".

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While just slightly off topic, this thread does touch on the difficulties of Holy Week Liturgical Reform in the Byzantine tradition.

It is clear that Vespers is an evening service, and that Matins is a morning service. The content of those services in the Byzantine rite does fit with the chronological sequence of events as recorded in the Gospels. This is also helped by the fact that, when served in full, each of the services can span several hours.

Yet, the difficulty with simply moving these services to their proper chronological times is their popular association with a given day and time. I've attended the 12 Gospels on Friday morning in one parish, and while I could academically accept it as being proper, I missed the "darkness" that I always associated with this service.

I suppose a shift in piety is not impossible. Tenebrae was big in RC parishes; now it is all but consigned to oblivion. Carpatho-Russians have no real excitement about "Bridegroom" Matins or "Jerusalem" Matins, but to a Greek, those services are essential parts of Holy Week.

Fr. David

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