Holy Week: The Liturgy of the Bridegroom

In the Orthodox tradition, the first three days of Holy Week are celebrated in The Liturgy of the Bridegroom.  The Bridegroom is a descriptor of Christ in his relationship with the Church in a number of places in the New Testament, but in this liturgy the

Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) is particularly in mind, where the ‘Brides’ are urged to be prepare themselves for the coming of their Bridegroom.

“Thy bridal chamber, O my Saviour, do I behold all adorned, and a garment I have not that I may enter therein. Illumine the garment of my soul, O Giver of Light, and save me.”

I found the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website a well written resource if you want to read more about the Orthodox Liturgy of the Bridegroom.

St John of the Cross once used these words to encourage a younger Christian in the spiritual life:

“Enter within yourself and work in the presence of your Bridegroom, who is ever present loving you.”

St John of the Cross is famous for his love poems to Jesus, some of which are modelled on the bible’s own love poem, Song of Songs.  But love is not a simple emotion and the mystics testify that this kind of mystical love of Christ only comes through suffering.  Love is the reward for faith that endures.  Love is the reward for the doing the hard work of one’s inner life.  For Love saturates our Being but must be freed from its slavery to sin.

Thanks to Ben Myers @ Faith and Theology, I came across this quote from Simone Weil which sums it all up in relation to the cross:

“God created through love and for love. God did not create anything except love itself, and the means to love. He created love in all its forms. He created beings capable of love from all possible distances. Because no other could do it, he himself went to the greatest possible distance, the infinite distance. This infinite distance between God and God, this supreme tearing apart, this agony beyond all others, this marvel of love, is the crucifixion…. This tearing apart, over which supreme love places the bond of supreme union, echoes perpetually across the universe in the midst of the silence, like two notes, separate yet melting into one, like pure and heart-rending harmony. This is the Word of God. The whole creation is nothing but its vibration.”

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