Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Great Monday: The Bridegroom Prayer

Ikon of the Bridegroom

Overview

In the Eastern Church, Sunday night Vespers begins Great Monday and the Prayer of the Bridegroom which continues through Tuesday evening.  It is called the Bridegroom Prayer because the theme of the triparion is solemnly chanted during these liturgies.  During this time, the Ikon of the Bridegroom (to the left) is placed in the center of the temple.

Love of the Bridegroom

While we see our Lord dressed in the clothing of mockery and holding the instruments of His torture, we should see the glory of the Bridegroom.  During the next few days, our Lord chooses to prove His extravagant love to his Bride, the Church.  Every Bride desires her Prince to prove Himself and so he does.  The instruments of His torture become His wedding gift(s) to His bride.  His wounds of love become the His expression of the total gift of self to the love of His life -us.

The world believes it knows what romance is.  In fact, it has institutionalized it on Valentine’s Day (St. Valentine is not celebrated by the universal Church on February 14) which has reduced self-giving love to gifts that are simple aphrodisiacs.  Noble romance is self-giving, self-effacing and desires to express and protect the mystery of the Bridegroom and His Bride’s person.  Good Friday is the highest expression of romance that is consummated on the cross.  Why do we settle for less> The only logical reason is that we long so much to be seen and loved.  Holy week is the clarion call  to remind us to not settle for mere imitation.  We deserve and need to demand nobility from our spouses and those we date.  We need to observe and understand the model par excellence and let Him love us first.

As we continue through Holy Week, let us gaze upon and closely watch our Lover as He woos us into the bridal chamber.  Soon we will find our hearts at the foot of the cross.  There He will consummate His love with us and fulfill the nuptials of His wedding vows.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans 11:33

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