We served Presanctified liturgy this morning. The photo above, by the way, is of the newest fresco going up in our church.
Of course, the major difference between these liturgies during Holy Week and the ones during the Holy Forty Days is that we read from the Holy Gospel. This morning we read from St. Matthew’s gospel, chapter 24 – the beginning of Birth Pangs, the Great Tribulation, The End – and the Lord says, “then there will be great tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of time, no, nor ever shall…but for the elects’ sake those days will be shortened” (Matt 24:21,22).
Later, during the communion of the clergy, the Lives of the Saints for today was read and, among others, we read about the Venerable Mark of Thrace whom we, on the Old Calendar, remember today. From his life we heard the following: “Mark asked St. Serapion: “Are there any Christians in the world now, who, if they were to say to this mountain, `Arise from here and hurl yourself into the sea,’ would it be so?” At that moment, the mountain upon which they stood moved in the direction of the sea. Mark raised his hand and stopped it.”
But there was also a very interesting thing said about him right afterward: “Before his death, he prayed for the salvation of mankind and then gave up his soul to God.”
I did a Google search to find an icon of St. Mark to include it in this post but couldn’t find it. O, how many are there that we don’t know, that we don’t see nor do we know what they look like but they pray day and night for our salvation, that the days of tribulation might be shortened, that we who eat and drink and are merry might not have to suffer, that we be saved, and reach our repentance.