From the editor: April 11, 2014

Christ the Bridegroom Icon

RSVP Golgotha

Christ is called the Bridegroom of the Church. And the icon of the Bridegroom depicts him on the road to death through his sufferings.

It is at the point of his death that Jesus binds himself irrevocably to his bride, the Church. Jesus is the new Adam.

The new Adam received his bride Eve when he fell asleep and Eve was drawn from his side through an opening that was closed up by God.

Just so, the New Adam falls asleep on the Cross and his side is opened up by the lance—and from his side flows out blood and water, seen by John the Apostle with his own eyes. The sacred blood and water are seen by the church as the holy Eucharist and holy baptism. The church, which is the bride of Christ, is brought into being by "the water and the blood." The Bride is born.

Here are a few verses from the texts of Holy Week along these lines:

"O bridegroom, surpassing all in beauty, thou has called us to the spiritual feast of thy bridal chamber. Strip from me the disfigurement of sin, through participation in thy sufferings; clothe me in the glorious robe of thy beauty, and in thy compassion make the feast with joy at thy kingdom." [Matins, Tuesday in Holy Week.]

Today he who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon the cross. He who is King of the Angels is arrayed in a crown of thorns. He who wraps the heaven in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery. He who in the Jordan set Adam free receives blows upon his face. The bridegroom of the church is transfixed with nails. The Son of the Virgin is pierced with a spear. We venerate thy passion, O Christ. Show us also thy glorious resurrection. [Antiphon of Holy Friday Matins]

O thou who hast fashioned Eve from Adam side, thy side was pierced and from it flowed streams of cleansing.

"Pierced by a spear, O Savior, from thy side thou pourest out life upon Eve, the mother of all the living, who banished me from life; and thou quickenest me also with her."

Adam slept, and from his side there came death; now thou dost sleep, O Word of God, and from thy side there flows a fountain of life for the world.

Thy life-giving side, O Christ, flowing as a fountain from Eden, waters thy church as a living paradise.

Adam was slain of old through envy but by thy dying thou hast brought him back to life, O Savior, revealed in the flesh as the new Adam.

After the night the sun shines out again in brightness; and after death do thou, O Word, arise once more and shine in thy glory, as a bridegroom coming from his chamber. [Holy Friday Evening Lamentations Service]

—James M. Kushiner