Historically for Christians, each day of the week has its own spiritual theme. Saturday is significant for being the Sabbath and Sunday for being the day of the Resurrection. Very early on, probably as early as the apostolic age, Wednesdays and Fridays were observed as fast days, partly to observe solemn occasions in Jesus’ life and partly to make a public break from the Jewish custom of fasting on Mondays and Thursdays. Within a short time, each day of the week had its own theme that flavored any personal devotion or public worship service held on that day.
Sadly, much of this rich heritage is forgotten in western Christianity, but it is still very much alive in Orthodoxy. For more information, see the publication Come Before God by Alkiviadis C. Calivas, Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1986.
In Judaism, Sunday was called both the first day and the eighth day, because it was on Sunday that creation began, and it was on the following Sunday that the new creation was open for business, so to speak. As the eighth day, Sunday is significant, because it is on the eighth day that Jewish babies are circumcised, consequently it was on the eighth day of His earthly life that Jesus was circumcised and given His name (Luke 2:21). Sunday took on new meaning to early Christians, because Sunday is also the day on which Jesus rose from the grave (Luke 24:1). Historically, the Church has held corporate worship services on all days of the week, but Sundays have always been special, for it is on this day that they gather to celebrate Jesus’ conquest of death, His coming again, and the new creation (Revelation 21:1). Therefore, Sunday is the principal day on which Christians celebrate the Eucharist. Sunday is a weekly Easter celebration, a witness to the risen Lord.
On Monday, the Church remembers the angels, the ministering spirits who serve God to help bring about our salvation. The angel of the Lord wrestled with Jacob, and when Jacob prevailed, gave him the name “Israel” and the blessing that resulted in the old covenant (Genesis 32:22-30). Angels were the mediators through whom Moses received the Law (Galatians 3:19). Angels served the prophets, and they announced the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:11-13) and the nativity of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:25-33). Angels tended to Jesus’ needs in the wilderness (Matthew 4:11). Angels are sent to help each of us as we grow in faith. (Hebrews 1:14).
On Tuesday, the Church honors St. John the Baptist and all the prophets. John the Baptist heads the list, because he was the forerunner of Jesus (Luke 1:11-17). The prophets are worthy of honor because they are models of perseverance and obedience in the face of adversity. All of them suffered because of their calling, yet they remained faithful and delivered the message of God’s salvation. Some, like Jeremiah, suffered humiliation and degradation; others paid more dearly. John the Baptist was beheaded (Mark 6:21-26).
On Wednesday, the Church remembers how Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, possibly because in order to betray Jesus at the Last Supper on Thursday, he had to make arrangements the day before. Wednesday is traditionally a fast day. (In a religious context, fasting does not mean abstaining from all food. You can read more about religious fasting.) In fact, John Wesley, the Anglican priest who founded Methodism, did not believe a man should be ordained if he did not fast twice a week, reasoning that anyone who cannot discipline his own appetite cannot discipline the Church of God. Something for us to think about! Though Wednesday’s theme is somber, it is also paradoxically joyous. By realizing that Judas’ betrayal only played into God’s hands and facilitated our salvation, we can look forward in faith to see that our hardships serve some greater, more positive purpose (Romans 8:28).
On Thursday, Jesus held the Last Supper, at which time He instituted the Eucharist and gave His apostles their marching orders. Therefore on Thursday, the Church remembers the apostles who received Jesus’ commission to tend His flock. The apostles were fishers who were motivated by love rather than by profit, who caught people rather than fish. Unlike fishermen, they threw no ugly fish back into the water! They found the lost, the rejected, and the downcast—the least of this world—so that the Holy Spirit could transform sinners into saints to the greater glory of God. Our church leaders must follow the example of the apostles in their preaching and teaching, and as they edify and discipline the souls they gather into the Church. Most importantly, our church leaders must emulate the apostles’ devotion to the Lord Jesus and their love for His little ones for whom He died.
On Friday, the Church remembers the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, therefore Friday is traditionally a fast day. (In a religious context, fasting does not mean abstaining from all food. You can read more about religious fasting.) In fact, John Wesley, the Anglican priest who founded Methodism, did not believe a man should be ordained if he did not fast twice a week, reasoning that anyone who cannot discipline his own appetite cannot discipline the Church of God. Something for us to think about! Though Friday’s theme is somber, it is also paradoxically joyous. The disciples themselves viewed the Crucifixion as a catastrophe that ended all hope (Luke 14:19-21). But when they saw their risen Lord, they realized that no power in heaven, on earth, or under the earth could defeat Him! By remembering how Jesus overcame ultimate defeat, we can look forward in faith to see that Jesus will rescue us from our mortality (John 14:3). We can face any hardship, we can suffer any adversity, and we can endure any terror, because we know that Jesus through His victory will rescue us (Romans 8:18).
Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath. Christians are mindful that it was on Saturday that Jesus rested in the grave, thus fulfilling the Law until His resurrection. The Church also seeks to emulate the faith, hope, and devotion of those who have fallen asleep in the Lord and of those who were martyred for their Christian testimony.
‘Eucharist’ is the original term for the sharing of bread and wine that commemorates and continues the Last Supper. The term Eucharist is still used by many Christians. Some call it Communion or the Last Supper. Whatever the terminology, it is the same thing.