Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Who Could Paint This Week?

The weather is as horrible today as yesterday.  The rain is unrelenting, the sky is gloomy and the wind is starting to pick up.  It's mid-morning and if this is the way the day is going to go I won't get any errands done. Besides, this week is Holy Week for those of us who are observing the Easter holiday, and it's not fun in bad weather.

As Greek Orthodox christians, this is the holiest week in our calendar.  Many of us observe Holy Week as if we are living it.  There are church services each day and all day, if people are interested in attending.  Every day is a different service and story leading up to the Passion, and finally, the Resurrection of Christ.  It's great theater if you look at it that way.  But between attending services, the dietary rules of fasting, the cleaning, baking, cooking, preparing, it's a rough week.  Who could paint?  I'm not sure I will even get to post to this blog this week.  We will see.

Beginning the evening of Palm Sunday and through to Tuesday night is the Service of the Bridegroom, from the parable of the Ten Virgins signifying the need to be ready when the "bridegroom" calls for the brides, very symbolic.  Holy Monday commermorated the story of Joseph the Patriarch, son of Jacob from the Old Testament.  Tonight, Holy Tuesday, the church continues to celebrate the Ten Virgins, but also the Parousia, or the Second Coming, with the subject of spiritual vigilance.  My favorite part of the Tuesday service is the Hymn of Kassiani, which the music and lyrics written by this nun are quite beautiful and awe inspiring. 

Born around 810AD in Constantinople (Istanbul now), Kassiani had to be one of the earliest artist/feminists in history.  Beautiful, wealthy and smart, she spurned the advances of the byzantine emperor Theophilos, who wished to marry her, with some terse words:

                      He said: Through a woman came the baser things..
                      She said:  And through a woman came the better things..

You know that wasn't going to go well.  Pretty angry, he chose to marry Theodora instead and had Kassiani scourged with a lash and banished to a monstery where she wrote poetry and music to accompany it.  She was probably thrilled thinking, Oh great, now I can just go do my art!  Seems in those days, besides religious belief, people chose monastic life to pursue their art and were involved in icon painting, illuminating manuscripts, writing liturgical music, and the like.  Hey, why not?  Think about it, peace and quiet, time to paint, write, whatever, without distraction.  Sounds great!

Will I attend services tonight?  I'm not sure if I will.  There's a whole week ahead of us.  Just thinking of all the things that go into this week kind of makes me want to hole up in a monastery to get some painting done.


  1. Thank you for sharing the Orthodox traditions of Holy Week. As an Anglican, I am intrigued my the variations of worship during this week.

  2. This week is very intense for us and I have guilt if I don't attend one night. Goes with the territory I guess. Thanks so much for commenting!


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