Great & Holy Friday - Royal Hours 9 AM - Vespers 3 PM - Matins with Lamentations 7 PM

Great & Holy Friday - Royal Hours 9 AM - Vespers 3 PM - Matins with Lamentations 7 PM

This is a day of strict fast. As little as possible should be eaten on this day.  It is the only day in the entire year that no Divine Liturgy of any kind can be celebrated.  In the morning we celebrate the Royal Hours. These solemn hours are observed as we read the various accounts and hymns concerning the crucifixion. In the afternoon we celebrate the Vesper service of the taking down of Christ's body from the cross. During the Gospel reading, our Lord's body is taken off the cross and wrapped in a new, white linen sheet.  This act commemorates the removal of Christ's body from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38-42). Later in the service, the Epitaphios, or winding-sheet, with Christ's body on it is carried in procession and placed in the recently decorated tomb.  In the evening the Lamentations Orthros service is sung. This service begins in a solemn manner, but by the end of the service we are already anticipating the Resurrection of our Lord. Remember again, that the Holy Friday evening Orthros is actually the first service of Holy Saturday, the day in which we commemorate our Lord's body resting in the tomb while His all-pure soul descends into Hades to free the faithful of the Old Covenant.

CUSTOMS OF GREAT & HOLY FRIDAY

QUESTION:
What is the proper way to approach the Tomb of Jesus [Winding Sheet, or Shroud] that is set up in church on Great and Holy Friday?
Which is supposed to be kissed first? The hands, feet, or Bible?

ANSWER:
While local and national customs vary, in general one would approach the tomb of Christ, make one or three prostrations, and then kiss the hands and the feet. If there is a Gospel Book present (this is not always the case), one should kiss it as well. There really is no right or wrong order. It is always best to check with the priest at the parish to see what the local custom dictates.



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