Greek Orthodox Holy Monday Religious Service Overview

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Holy Monday is the third day of Holy Week for the Orthodox Christian Church. Along with Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday, these three days have a similar theme that foreshadow Jesus’ death and resurrection. Holy Monday is also the day that commemorates when Jesus cursed the fig tree during his entry into Jerusalem. Here’s what you should know about Holy Monday Service in the Orthodox Christian Church.

About the Holy Monday Service

Holy Monday commemorates Joseph and the fig tree, which was cursed and withered by Jesus Christ. The withering of the fig tree is a miracle of special symbolism as the tree has leaves, but no fruit. The symbolism is related to people who say they have religious and ethical identity, but lead empty lives that yield no fruit. The curse that Jesus used on the fig tree was “May no fruit ever come from you again.!” You can read this in Matthew 21:19.

During the evening of Holy Monday, the service will begin with the Hymn of the Bridegroom. As this occurs, a solemn procession of the Icon of Christ-Bridegroom also takes place around the church. During the service, there is a reading of Matthew 21:18-43. Orthos Service (also known as Matins) is usually held on Holy Monday. Some churches will hold the Bridegroom Services on Palm Sunday instead of Holy Monday. On Holy Monday during the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, Matthew 24:3-35 may be read. This is the great eschatological discourse of Jesus with the signs and announcement of the End. Here is is stated “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away..”

Biblical Story of  Blessed Joseph

On Holy Monday evening, the Blessed Joseph is commemorated as he is seen as a prototype of Jesus Christ. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and thrown into a pit before being sold into slavery. This is compared to the way Jesus was rejected, betrayed, and sold into slavery. Joseph forgave his brothers for their actions during the famine when they came to him and Jesus would do the same, forgiving all who came to him in faith.

Gospel Reading and Hymns for Holy Monday

On Holy Monday, the gospel reading for the day is of the Barren Fig Tree. Here Jesus Christ cursed and withered the fig tree because it did not bear fruit. The fig tree represents those who have heard God’s word, but have not bore the fruits of faith. It is a warning to people, throughout time, of the importance of not only hearing the word of God, but also putting the words into action.

During the Holy Monday evening, the following Kontakion may be included: “Be mindful of the hour of the end, O my soul, and fearing because of the cutting down of the fig tree, labor diligently with the talent that was given thee, O hapless one, and be watchful and cry: Let us not remain outside the bridal chamber of Christ.”

There are also some hymns that are sung or chanted on this day. Here’s a look at the lyrics:

Apolytikion of Holy Monday

Plagal of the Fourth Tone

See! The Bridegroom sets forth in the dead of night. And blessed is that servant whom he shall find on watch; unworthy the one he shall come upon lazing. See to it, soul, that sleep does not overtake you, lest you be given up to death and be shut out of the kingdom. Bestir yourself, then, and sing out: “Holy, holy, holy are You, our God; through the protection of the bodiless powers, save us.”

Kontakion of Holy Monday

Plagal of the Fourth Tone

Jacob mourned the loss of Joseph, while the noble one rode in a chariot, honored as royalty. For having spurned the enticements of the Egyptian woman, he was in turn glorified by Him who knows the hearts of men and bestows an incorruptible crown.


Holy Monday

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This post was written by Greek Boston