30 day Orthodox challenge
Day 02 — Your favorite Feast Day
There are many feast days that I like very much, but if I had to choose, I would say that my favourite is the Feast of Feasts: Pascha (Easter). Every other feast day of the Church is connected -in one way or another- to this Great Feast, the Ressurection of Jesus. There are so many wonderful things to say for the meaning of this feast for all the Christians, however I will just talk about the Paschal Divine Liturgy on Holy Saturday night.
After 40 days of strict fasting and a week of a million long (but truly amazing!) Church services it’s a day to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ.
When everyone gets to the Church, it’s pitch black; the only thing that is lit is Vigil Lamp hanging above the altar table. The priest than takes his Pascha candle, lights it and turns to the parish singing the most beautiful song “Come receive the Light from the Light that is never overtaken by night and glorify Christ who is Risen from the dead”.
Then, the priest gives the Holy Light (the flame that appears every year miraculusly in Jesus tomb at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in a special Orthodox ceremony) to the rest of the parishioners. Before you know it, the whole church is aglow.
We all follow the clergy outside; yes I wrote outside. Doesn’t matter if its minus 40 degrees out or 40 above we all make a procession around the church with our candles lit. Once we get back to the main door of the church the clergy say some prayers and the parish sings the troparion of Pascha “Christ is risen from the dead…” and then the priest will shout “Christ is Risen” and the parish all respond loudly “Truly He is Risen” (if you have seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you will know what I mean, but they all say it in Greek ”Christos Anesti! Aleithos Anesti“!) The doors are opened and the whole Church is brilliantly lit, signifying an empty tomb.
The rest of the service is completed with plenty of beautiful Paschal Hymns, the priest throwing rose petals and the yawns of very sleepy children, if they have not already fallen asleep at their parent’s feet…
This is only a small taste of the long Paschal Divine Liturgy. Some of the traditions differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction (eg. right after the service in the Russian Orthodox Church, everyone gets their Pascha Baskets blessed by the priest, the Greek Orthodox receive blessed eggs etc - It depends)
To me, the Pascha is truly amazing. After the mourn and the tears of the Holy Week (and especially on the Holy Thursday and Friday) it follows happiness and joy! We have hope again, because we know that “Christ is Risen from the Dead, trembled the death by death”. I am really happy that for the next 40 days I greet others with “Christ is Risen”!