Each day of the week is assigned special focus and celebratory qualities. Sunday is the day of the Lord, which has Resurrection as the major theme, as well as creation and numerous references to Pascha. Monday, or the second day of the week, focuses on the Angels and the Bodiless Powers in heaven. Monday brings to mind all the different orders of angels that God created. Tuesday recalls St. John the Baptist as well as all the other Prophets in the Church.
Wednesday and Friday focus on the Cross and the Theotokos. Wednesday is always a fast day unless otherwise noted due to its primary remembrance of the betrayal of Judas. The reason we fast is to call to mind the betrayal and to steer clear of things that would cause us to betray our faith. Friday is the day that we remember the Crucifixion of Christ. Every Friday throughout the year is a fast day unless it is in a non-fasting week. In the hymns of the church, you can see various hymns that are called 'stavro-theotokion.' In other words, these are special hymns for Wednesday and Friday that are to be sung in Liturgical worship.
Thursday's remembrance is of the Holy Apostles and Saint Nicholas. Thursday is the day of the Last Supper where the Apostles were all present. Their Eucharistic assembly is the reason they are remembered on this day. Saint Nicholas was the epitome of what a hierarch should be. His life is also associated with giving and bread, which is a vital part of the Eucharist.
Saturday is the day for remembering the martyrs and ascetics in the Church. We also remember the dead on this day, and that is why at designated times of the year, we have the Saturday of the Souls. We are reminded to pray for those who have fallen asleep in Christ. Originally all memorial services that we now do on Sunday after the Liturgy, were performed on Saturday. As there are no funerals on Sunday, in earlier Liturgical practice, memorial services were also not performed on Sunday. However, due to the logistics of people visiting a community, and the Liturgical cycle of our churches today, it is permitted and commonplace to perform a memorial service on Sunday. Saturday is also designated in the Old Testament as the day of rest, as well as being a Eucharistic day and a Liturgical day with no fasting overtones, but a day that ushers in the Resurrection …Sunday.
Even though the days of the week have different remembrances and meanings, there are many other Liturgical cycles that we follow, such as the daily cycle of the Service of the Hours which reference different parts of the day and what was happening to Christ at those times. There is also the cycle of the Tones of music. There are eight in all, which change consecutively every week throughout the year, except for Bright Week in which they change every day, and then follow a weekly rotation. There is also the cycle of the Gospel readings and many other cycles as well, that would be too lengthy for me to discuss in this article. I pray that each day from now on will bring a new and special meaning to you so that you can participate more fully in the Liturgical cycle of the Orthodox Church.
Father Peter Spiro is Proistamenos of St Athanasios Greek Orthodox Church in Aurora, IL. The church is a far western suburb of Chicago.