This week, the nice folks at Media Magic are observing the Greek Orthodox Easter tradition by celebrating Holy Week. In the meantime, to help explain some of these traditions, we have provided the following text from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese to describe the celebrations that begin today on what is known as Holy Monday:
On Holy Monday Orthodox Christians commemorate Joseph the Patriarch, the beloved son of Jacob. A major figure of the Old Testament, Joseph’s story is told in the final section of the Book of Genesis (chs. 37-50). Because of his exceptional qualities and remarkable life, the liturgical tradition portrays Joseph as tipos Christou, i.e., as a prototype, prefigurement or image of Christ. The story of Joseph illustrates the mystery of God’s providence, promise and redemption. Innocent, chaste and righteous, his life bears witness to the power of God’s love and promise. The lesson to be learned from Joseph’s life, as it bears upon the ultimate redemption wrought by the death and resurrection of Christ, is summed up in the words he addressed to his brothers who had previously betrayed him, “’Fear not … As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ Thus he reassured them and comforted them” (Genesis 50:19-21). The commemoration of the noble, blessed and saintly Joseph reminds Orthodox Christians that in the great events of the Old Testament, the Church also recognizes the realities of the New Testament.
In addition, on Great and Holy Monday the Church commemorates the event of the cursing of the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-20). In the Gospel narrative this event is said to have occurred on the morrow of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:18 and Mark 11:12). For this reason it found its way into the liturgy of Great Monday. The cursing of the fig tree is a parable in action, a symbolic gesture. Its meaning should not be lost on any one in any generation. Orthodox Christians believe that genuine Christian faith is dynamic and fruitful. It permeates one’s whole being and causes a change. Living, true and unadulterated faith helps Orthodox Christians become conscious of the fact that they are already citizens of heaven. Therefore, this way of thinking, feeling, acting and being reflect these views. In short, true Orthodox Christians believe they should be conscious of living and walking with the Holy Spirit that exists everywhere; and that in return the Holy Spirit that exists within everything in the cosmos will bear fruit in them: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-25).
“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha
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