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definition - Holy_Wednesday

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Holy Wednesday

                   
Paso de misterio de El Olivo, Miércoles Santo, El Puerto.ogg
 
  Miércoles Santo (Holy Wednesday) in Cádiz, Spain

In Christianity, Holy Wednesday (also called Spy Wednesday, and in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, Holy and Great Wednesday, Greek: Μεγάλη Τετάρτη, Megale Tetarte) is the Wednesday of the Holy Week, the week before Easter. It is followed by Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday).

Contents

  Biblical history

In Western Christianity, the Wednesday before Easter is sometimes known as "Spy Wednesday", as a reference to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot.[1][2], indicating that it is the day that Judas Iscariot first conspired with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for thirty silver coins.[3][4]

This event is described in the three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6.

The Sanhedrin was gathered together and it decided to kill Jesus, even before Pesach if possible. In the meantime, Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper. Here he was anointed on his head by a woman with very expensive ointment of spikenard. In John's Gospel, this woman is identified as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Some of the disciples, particularly Judas, were indignant about this; the oil could have been sold to support the poor. Judas went to the Sanhedrin and offered them his support in exchange for money. From this moment on Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

  Liturgy

  Western Christianity

Although it is frequently celebrated on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday,[5] the Tenebrae is a liturgy that is often celebrated on this day. The word tenebrae comes from the Latin meaning darkness. In this service, all of the candles on the altar table are gradually extinguished until the sanctuary is in complete darkness. At the moment of darkness, a loud clash occurs symbolizing the death of Jesus.[6] The 'strepitus', as it is known more probably symbolizes the earthquake that followed Jesus' death: "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent" Matthew 27:51(AV).

  Eastern Christianity

In the Orthodox Church, the theme of Holy and Great Wednesday is the commemoration of the sinful woman who anointed Jesus before his Crucifixion and Burial; a second theme is the agreement to betray Jesus made by Judas Iscariot.

The day begins with the celebration of the Presanctified Liturgy on Tuesday afternoon. Later that evening, the Orthros (Matins) follows the special Holy Week format known as the Bridegroom Prayer. Towards the end of Orthros, the Hymn of Kassiani is sung. The hymn, (written in the 9th century by Kassiani the Nun) tells of the woman who washed Christ's feet in the house of Simon the Pharisee. (Luke 7:36-50) Much of the hymn is written from the perspective of the sinful woman:

  Russian icon of Saint Kassiani holding a scroll with her hymn written on it.
O Lord, the woman who had fallen into many sins, sensing Your Divinity, takes upon herself the duty of a myrrh-bearer. With lamentations she brings you myrrh in anticipation of your entombment. "Woe to me!" she cries, "for me night has become a frenzy of licentiousness, a dark and moonless love of sin. Receive the fountain of my tears, O You who gathers into clouds the waters of the sea. Incline unto me, unto the sighings of my heart, O You who bowed the heavens by your ineffable condescension. I will wash your immaculate feet with kisses and dry them again with the tresses of my hair; those very feet at whose sound Eve hid herself from in fear when she heard You walking in Paradise in the twilight of the day. As for the multitude of my sins and the depths of Your judgments, who can search them out, O Savior of souls, my Savior? Do not disdain me Your handmaiden, O You who are boundless in mercy."

The Byzantine musical composition expresses the poetry so strongly that it often leaves many people in a state of prayerful tears. The Hymn can last upwards of 25 minutes and is liturgically and musically a highpoint of the entire year.

On this day members of the church receive Holy Unction after receiving Holy Communion at the Presanctified Liturgy on Wednesday evening.[7]

It is on account of the agreement made by Judas to betray Jesus on this day that Orthodox Christians fast on Wednesdays (as well as Fridays) throughout the year.

  Customs

  • Czech Republic: the day is traditionally called Ugly Wednesday, Soot-Sweeping Wednesday or Black Wednesday, because chimneys used to be swept on this day, to be clean for Easter.[8]
  • Malta: this day is known as L-Erbgħa tat-Tnieber (Drums' Wednesday), in the past children went to the parish church and drummed on the chairs to make the sound of thunderstorms, as their version of the "strepitus" sound at Tenebrae.
  • Scandinavia: this day is known as Dymmelonsdagen. A dymbil is a piece of wood. Historically, the metal clapper of the church bells were replaced by these dymbils on Holy Wednesday, to make a duller sound; that is the day's namesake. The day is sometimes confused with Ash Wednesday, and to the public, the days have started to apply to one another.

  Wednesday Crucifixion Theory

A growing body of Biblical scholars and commentators - particularly those of Fundamentalist Churches - claim the traditional Holy Week calendar is inaccurate and Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, not Friday.[9][10][11] Those promoting a Wednesday crucifixion date point to the story recounted in Matthew 12:38-40 (ASV):

"Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given it but the sign of Jonah the prophet: for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

Elsewhere Biblical texts reinforce the point that Jesus was to be dead for three days and three nights, including in Mark 8:31, where it is written that the Son of Man "must be killed and after three days rise again." In Matthew 27:62-64 the Pharisees quote Jesus as saying, "After three days I will rise again." However, Mark 15:42 indicates that Jesus was crucified on "Preparation Day (that is, the day before Sabbath)." Since weekly Sabbath occurs on Saturday, it was presumed that Jesus was crucified on Good Friday.

In the traditional Jewish calendar there were weekly Sabbaths on Saturday, as well as seven High Sabbaths, also called "High Days", some of which can fall on any day of the week. John 19:31 says that that particular Sabbath day before which Jesus was crucified was, in the Greek translation, a "great day" or "high day" (μεγάλη ἡ ἡμέρα).

Proponents of the Wednesday crucifixion theory argue that this special Sabbath was the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which commenced on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nisan and was preceded with a passover meal on the 14th of Nisan. If Jesus was crucified in 30 A.D. or 31 A.D., the 14th of Nissan would have fallen on a Wednesday, with the next day being an Annual Sabbath. If true, the Wednesday crucifixion would have still occurred the day before a Sabbath, as recounted in Biblical text.

Other Biblical texts add weight to the Wednesday crucifixion theory. Modern versions of Matthew 28:1 record the resurrection as occurring "After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week." But the Greek text reads "After the Sabbaths" (plural), meaning two Sabbaths had passed between the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus – the annual Sabbath and the weekly Sabbath.

  References

   
               

 

All translations of Holy_Wednesday


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