Great and Holy Friday is one of the most solemn Holy Days within the life of the Orthodox Church. On this day, we witness our Lord’s unchanging love for us as He willingly gives His life for our sake. On Holy Friday, we watch our Lord’s crucifixion by the hands of those He came to save. In Matins of Holy Friday, we hear:
“Today he who suspended the earth upon the waters is suspended on a tree. A Crown of thorns is placed on the head of the King of angels. He who wore a false purple robe covered the heavens with clouds. He is smitten who, in the Jordan, delivered Adam.The Bridegroom of the Church is fastened with nails, and the son of the Virgin is pierced with a spear. Thy sufferings we adore, O Christ! Thy sufferings we adore, O Christ! Thy sufferings we adore, O Christ! Make us to behold thy glorious Resurrection.”
In order to fully appreciate the wonder of Christ’s Resurrection from the dead, it is important that we understand the significance of his sufferings that we may behold His glorious Resurrection.
An ancient tradition in the Orthodox Church, which our Teen SOYO committed itself to honor, is the Vigil at the Tomb of Christ. After our Lord died on the Cross, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus, bound it in linen cloths with spices and buried it in a new tomb. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sat opposite the tomb watching as their Lord was buried. The Church over the centuries has joined with these two women in keeping watch over Jesus’ tomb. The Holy Friday Vigil at Christ’s tomb is our opportunity to help keep watch over our Lord’s body as He descends in to Hell to loosen the bonds of death. What better way to understand the death and resurrection of Jesus than to participate in the Vigil by His tomb?
The Church has given us this opportunity to watch and wait with the countless saints and myriads of angels as our Lord conquers death.
10:00PM Meet in the Teen Room for an Ice-Breaker
10:30PM Evening Snack
11:00PM Cleaning in the Church
12:00AM First Spiritual Discussion
12:30AM Second Spiritual Discussion
1:00AM Midnight Office
2:00AM Time for Prayer or Sleep
Exactly what is a Vigil?
A Vigil is a time of watching, waiting, and preparing. We watch over the Lord’s tomb, remembering His sufferings and death for our salvation. We take time out of our often too hectic schedule to wait with expectation for our Lord’s Resurrection from the dead. It is an excellent time to take account of our life in the light of Jesus’ life and teachings, preparing ourselves to be able to behold the glory of His triumph over death. In a very real sense, the Holy Friday Vigil is the final opportunity of getting ready for Pascha (Christ’s Passover from Death to Life) – the Resurrection of Christ!
What do I do at the Vigil?
A vigil is spent in meditation and prayer while one or more people read hymns and Psalms before the Tomb of Christ in the Church. Some will read Psalms and hymns during the night so that there is someone constantly watching over the Tomb throughout the night. We will also be having some discussions about the spiritual life and maintaining our relationship with Christ.
How long is the Vigil?
Traditionally, the Vigil starts after the Lamentations on Holy Friday evening and concludes with the Liturgy of St Basil the Great on Holy Saturday morning.