Thursday, April 02, 2015

Stump the Priest: Holy Week Without a Parish

Golgotha, inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Question: "What should someone do during Holy Week if they have no parish nearby, and so cannot attend the services?"

We should of course plan ahead, and if at all possible make a way for us to be at the services of Holy Week, but of course there are many circumstances beyond one's control that might prevent them from attending some or all of these services. But as for what to do when one is in this situation, let me give the ideal answer, and then an answer for those who cannot yet deal with it in the ideal way.


If you learn how to do reader services, you can actually do most of the Holy Week services in a fairly full way. You can't do the sacraments without a priest or a bishop, but you can do pretty much everything else. This requires investing the time to learn how to sing the services, and also to acquire the texts, but it is time and money well spent.

For more on that, see:

The Reader Service Horologion

Practical Questions on How To Do Reader Services

Tone Tutor

Practical Tips on Building a Liturgical Library

There is also a summer course on liturgics that is offered by the Orthodox Pastoral School.


If you don't know how to do reader services, here are some things you can do that are not very difficult to pull off:

For Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday, and Pascha, you can do Typika, which is relatively short service that has many of the elements of the Liturgy. You can get the text for Typika as well as the variable portions for those services by clicking here.

For the other days of Holy Week, you can do Akathists, which are found in the Book of Akathists from Holy Trinity Publications. Akathists are not complicated, and so you don't have to know a lot of rubrics to do them. It also doesn't take too much to learn how to sing them. For Holy Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, you could do the Akathist to the Divine Passion of Christ. For Holy Thursday, you could do the Akathist for Holy Communion. For Holy Friday, you could do the Akathist to the Precious Cross. For Holy Saturday you could do the Akathist to the Tomb and the Resurrection of the Lord. And for Pascha (in addition to the Typika) you could do the Akathist to the Resurrection of Christ.

One of the Traditions of Holy Week is to read all for Gospels in their entirety on Holy Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. If one is working during Holy Week, that might be difficult to pull off, but you could try to read at least one Gospel completely. And in addition to that, you can read the other appointed Scripture readings for the days of Holy Week.

For these readings, you can download Menologion 3.0 which provides the appointed readings for each day.