• Holy Week: Introduction

    by  • 3 April 2020 • Extract, Holy Week, Religion, The Christian Community • 1 Comment

    Here at Floris Books, we want to do all we can to support our community during these difficult times. To that end, this week we’re sharing an extract from Emil Bock’s Holy Week: A Spiritual Guide from Palm Sunday to Easter for 2021 Easter Holy Week.

    Holy Week will guide you from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. It will help bring the events of Easter alive, and provides opportunities for prayer and contemplation. Each day is accompanied by a gospel reading.


    The week before Easter is not only a significant and exceptional period in the Christian year, it is important also in the cycle of nature. In the Christian year, the whole drama of the Passion is enacted in this space of time, and its events form the grand conclusion of the gospel. In various regions of Christendom it is called not only Holy Week, but also the Great Week. Only those able to experience its greatness can fully participate in the festival of Easter.

    In nature’s year this week before Easter is important because the spring full moon occurs in it. The spell of winter is finally broken; by leaps and bounds the new life of the earth goes forward. In the equinoctial conflict of day with night day gains the victory, which is consolidated in the triumph of light on the first Sunday after the vernal full moon.

    The events of Holy Week, as related in the gospel, do not harmonize at first with spring in nature. On the contrary, they stand in sharpest contrast to it. Only at the very end, when the Easter sun has risen, the festival of rejoicing harmonizes with the exultation of spring. The solemn drama of Holy Week is the preparation for this harmony. The springtime of nature comes about of itself. The inner spring of the Easter festival must be achieved by the path of pilgrimage which passes along the stations of Holy Week.

    The seven days before Easter can be compared with the Twelve Holy Nights of Christmas. This period ‘between the years’ is the right preparation for the twelve months of the New Year for everyone who contemplates the inner meaning of midwinter. On those who inwardly participate in the mystery drama of the Passion the seven days of Holy Week bestow new forces for the whole of their future destiny.

    The events which happened two thousand years ago were providential prototypes. Through them the seven days of each week have taken on new meaning. The names of the seven days of the week in the European languages show that they reflect the qualities of the seven planetary spheres. Thus we have the sun (Sunday), moon (Monday), Mars (Tuesday, French: mardi), Mercury (Wednesday, French: mercredi), Jupiter (Thursday, French: jeudi), Venus (Friday, French: vendredi), Saturn (Saturday). In that one week before Easter, at the end of the life of Jesus, each weekday was stamped anew with a Christian planetary aspect, over and above the cosmic differentiation.

    Christendom at present has little understanding of the content of the days of Passion Week. Certainly, on Good Friday thoughts are turned to the cross on Golgotha, and in some parts of Christianity every Friday is marked as a fast day. But beyond this no striking picture has been attached to any day except Palm Sunday, which in some countries is celebrated with a display of palm branches. In reality, however, each of the seven days reveals a cosmic secret in human and historical form.

    At the entry of the Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the sun of the past, the old sun, stood again royally in the heavens. Nevertheless it was about to receive its dismissal, for the new sun, the Easter sun, was to rise on the following Sunday. When on the Monday Christ cursed the fig tree and cleansed the Temple in the holy city, his encounter was with the moon-forces of the ancient world which needed renewal. On the Tuesday, it was the Mars spirit which Christ bent to his purpose. For on the Tuesday of that week Christ was in conflict with his opponents, who came forward group after group in the hope of trapping him in his teaching. The Christ’s weapon was the spirit-word; finally, in the echo of the conflict, he retired with the disciples to the Mount of Olives and revealed to them an apocalyptic view into the future. On the Wednesday, in the anointing at Bethany and in the betrayal of Judas, Mercury encountered the Christ-sun. And as on Maundy Thursday Christ washed the disciples’ feet and administered the sacrament to them, there shone a Jupiter light, full of future promise, in the sorrow of their souls. On Good Friday all that has ever been granted to man by the goddess of love, Venus or Aphrodite, was most wonderfully transmuted and enhanced. A deed of love was done on that day greater than all other possible deeds of love. Love’s sacrificial death on Golgotha was the transformation of the Venus-principle through the sun-principle of Christ. As the body of Christ rested in the grave, the Christ-sun met the Saturn-spirit in the universe; until finally Sunday brought the octave, and the sun itself rose in the heavens, the Christ-sun which had fought its way through all these stages.

    The sacred drama of Holy Week is a complete artistic whole. Having grasped the value of stages in the life of Jesus, one can perceive in this drama the secret of its composition. For what takes place in the seven days before Easter is a concentration of Christ’s life as a whole. The same archetypal laws, and the progress from stage to stage, which were manifested in the sacred biography of the three years, are repeated in dramatic brevity. In the light of Holy Week the three years of the complete life of Christ can be recognized as one great Passion.

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