Thursday, April 2, 2009

"Behold, the Bridegroom is coming..."

Jesus Christ is the divine Bridegroom of the Church. He became incarnate, took on our flesh and came into the world to betroth Himself to His bride with the price of His blood. He invites us, woos us to come to His beautiful garden, His bridal chamber, to envelope us in His love, life, joy and peace (Ephesians 5:25-27). He yearns to be intimately one with each of us, His Bride (Song of Songs 7:11).

The icon of Christ the Bridegroom portrays the selfless love for Christ’s Bride, the Church (Isaiah 54). He is dressed in royal colors as the betrothed King, complying with Sacred Scripture’s account of His mockery by the Roman guards before His crucifixion. The crown is a symbol of His marriage to the Church; the rope, a symbol of bondage to sin, death and corruption which Jesus untied by His death on the Cross; the reed, a symbol of His humility.

During Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, we celebrate Bridegroom Matins. We sing:

Behold, the Bridegroom is coming in the middle of the night. Blessed is the servant he shall find awake. But the one he shall find neglectful will not be worthy of him. Beware, therefore, O my soul! Do not fall into a deep slumber, lest you be delivered to death and the door of the Kingdom be closed to you. Watch instead and cry out: Holy, Holy, Holy are you, O God. Through the intercession of the Theotokos, have mercy on us.

Other beautiful prayers during Bridegroom Matins include these prayed on Tuesday:

O faithful, let us be on fire with love for the Bridegroom, and with lamps burning, let us go out to meet him. May the light of our virtues shine brightly, and may our faith be radiant. With the wise Virgins, let us prepare to enter the banquet hall of the Lord; - for the divine Spouse offers us all the crown of immortality. (Sessional Hymn One)

O wretched soul, think of your last hours. Be dismayed at the rebuking of the fig tree. Act and double the talent given you with a loving purpose. Be watchful and cry out: Grant that we not be left outside the bridal chamber of Christ. (Kontakion)

May we all stay awake in anticipation and prayer throughout this holiest of weeks, as we prepare to meet the Bridegroom as he emerges from the tomb.

Please also keep us in your prayers as we move into our monastery this weekend!

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