As I returned from Bridegroom Matins this evening, I read two wonderful and timely posts from Fr. Stephen Freeman:
Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight,
And blessed is that servant
whom He shall find watching,
And again, unworthy is the servant whom He
shall find heedless.
Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed
down with sleep,
Lest you be given up to death, and lest you be shut out
of the Kingdom.
But rouse yourself crying: Holy, Holy, Holy, art Thou,
O Lord our God,
Through the Theotokos have mercy on us.
- Troparion of Bridegroom Matins
The journey to Pascha, which is made during Holy Week, is a liturgical action that marks the path to the greatest depths of our heart and to the heart’s true home. The deeply moving image of the Bridegroom, whom we address in the words of the hymn, manifest to us in His icon of humility, as well as the the open doors of the altar, inviting us with the words, “Thy Bridal Chamber…” all seek to take us to the place of union with God, which is indeed the deepest place of the heart.
On this journey every sin can be laid aside as well as “all earthly care.” On this journey every enemy can be blessed as the good God showers His kindness on all. On this journey we also pass all the places of darkness that we most fear, including the very gate of hell and death. With Christ we pass through them and discover that death has been trampled under foot and we may now walk in the light as He is in the light.
In this journey we learn to accept the wedding garment that has been provided for us: the righteousness of Christ, as we put off the old garment (our own righteousness) which is no more than filthy rags. Thus we learn to stand not on our own - not removed from God - but now made one with God - who alone can give us light and life.