Holy Thursday Liturgical Services in Minneapolis, MN
There are four events commemorated on Thursday of Holy Week: the washing of the disciples' feet, the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal of Christ by Judas.
The faithful of Minneapolis Ukrainian Orthodox Communities of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA were blessed to experience all four of these sacred commemorations, while attending the liturgical services of the day at St. Katherine Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Arden Hills, MN and Holy Archangel Michael/St. George Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, MN.
Holy Thursday morning started at the cathedral with the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, which was concelebrated by the clergy of the Minneapolis Metropolitan area with His Eminence Archbishop Daniel. This Liturgy commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist, and it was spiritually uplifting to see the clergy of both parishes (Very Rev. Fr. Evhen Kumka – pastor of Holy Archangel Michael/St. George Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, MN and Very Rev. Fr. Petro Siwko – pastor of St. Katherine Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Arden Hills, MN) pray together with the spiritual father of the Western Eparchy of the Church. Vladyka Daniel in his remarks reminded the faithful in attendance that “The Eucharist is at the center of the Church's life. It is her most profound prayer and principal activity. It is at one and the same time both the source and the summit of her life. In the Eucharist the Church manifests her true nature and is continuously changed from a human community into the Body of Christ, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and the People of God… Our new life in Christ is constantly renewed and increased by the Eucharist. The Eucharist imparts life and the life it gives is the life of God.”
Drawing near the conclusion of the Vesperal Liturgy, an ancient and sacred Rite of Washing of Feet took place in the nave of the St. Katherine’s church. It appears that the Early Church had a ceremony of the Washing of the Feet annually on Great Thursday in imitation of the event at the Last Supper. For the most part, it was limited to Cathedral Churches and certain monasteries. In time, the service fell into disuse except in certain areas. It is now being recovered by many eparchies throughout the Orthodox world. The service is elaborate, dramatic and moving.
The hierarch with the clergy processed from the sanctuary to the nave of the church in order to spiritually put into action the very example of humility and service to others that was preached by our Savior. By washing the feet of His disciples, the Lord summarized the meaning of His ministry, manifested His perfect love and revealed His profound humility. The act of the washing of the feet (John 13:2-17) is closely related to the sacrifice of the Cross. While the Cross constitutes the ultimate manifestation of Christ's perfect obedience to His Father (Philippians 2:5-8), the washing of the feet signifies His intense love and the giving of Himself to each person according to that person's ability to receive Him (John 13:6-9).
The eparchial archpastor, having taken off his outer vestments approached each priest and in Christ like manner washed the feet of his clergy, dried them up with a towel and prayerfully kissed them, thus as a spiritual father of the Eparchy and a successor to the Apostles he instructed the clergy and the faithful in attendance the importance of humility, love and sacrifice in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Later that day, on Thursday evening, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel led the service of the Passions of our Lord - the Reading of the 12 Gospels at Holy Archangel Michael/St. George Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, MN. Once again, serving with the bishop were the clergy of local Minneapolis parishes: Very Rev. Fr. Evhen Kumka – pastor of Holy Archangel Michael/St. George Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, MN and Very Rev. Fr. Petro Siwko – pastor of St. Katherine Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Arden Hills, MN, assisted by the seminarians of the Church subdeacon Mykola Zomchak and Yurii Bobko and Tadei Surak. The evening entered those in attendance into the celebration of the holy, saving and awesome Passion of Christ. To take away our sins, Christ willingly endured the spitting, scourging, buffetings, scorn, mocking and the purple robe; the reed, sponge, vinegar, nails, spear and, above all, the Cross and Death. The confession from the cross of the penitent thief, crucified with Christ, is celebrated. This service is usually long, but its content is dramatic and deeply moving for the devout Christian.
Those, in attendance at Holy Archangel Michael/St. George Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, MN, had an opportunity to once again participate in the prayers and the historical sequence of the events, as related in the Gospels and hymns, providing a vivid foundation for the great events yet to come.
Holy Thursday Liturgical Services in Minneapolis, MN - 04/13/2017
Photos by Subdeacon Mykola Zomchak and Seminarian Tadei Surak