Like the Sunday of the prodigal son, the Sunday of the last judgment also has a special set of katavasiae which prepare us for the upcoming Lenten season.
Ode iii. Establish upon the rock of Your commandments my heart, O Master, * sorely shaken as it is, O Lord. * Only You are holy, and again only You are Lord. Creation is perishable. Things are here today and gone tomorrow. The only constant, the only thing that is by nature unchangeable is God. As such, His commandments, the things that He has given us to guide our lives so that we may get to know Him, are the only truly reliable thing that we have in our lives. Our Church teaches us that we need to prepare ourselves to meet God and that preparation begins by the doing of His commandments. Consequently, this is more than a hymn that the chanter sings. It should be a prayer that each of makes our own.
Ode v. Early in the morning I awake from night. * Lover of man, I pray, * give me light and guide me in the way of Your commandments, * and teach me ever to do Your holy will, O Savior. The are two things that jump out at me from this hymn. The first is the declaration that the hymnodist rises early to be in prayer. The second is the understanding that comes from this hymn that even the best of us are not automatically in tune with God’s will. Wherever we may be on the path of salvation, we are in need of learning, of grace, of guidance. Thus, again, we pray together with the writer of the hymn that we, too, be taught to do God’s holy will.
Ode vi. I cried aloud and shouted with all my heart * unto the tender-loving God, * and He heard my voice from the lowest depths of Hades, * and He raised my life from the pit of corruption. This hymn hints at the joyful sorrow of Great Lent, at the discovery of God’s great mercy in the midst of difficulty. It is a reminder that we are never beyond the reach of God’s love.
With love in Christ,