Pascha

Christ is risen! Христос Воскресе!  Χριστος Ανεστι!


We celebrate the Feast of Feasts, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.  The Orthodox Church celebrates Pascha, or Easter, this year a week after the West.  Our way of calculating Pascha is the most ancient.  Even Catholic scholars concede this point.

We started at 23:30 with Nocturns and then at the stroke of midnight in almost total darkness, Fr. John started the midnight service.  We processed around the temple and the block and returned to the front of the temple where we proclaimed the Gospel.  When we were ready, Fr. John gave me the signal and I intoned, "And that we might be worthy to listen to the Holy Gospel, let us pray to the Lord God."  This is done by the deacon or priest in every Byzantine Rite Orthodox Church.  I do not know what they do in the Western Rite and in the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

We then entered the temple and when everybody was in place, I started the Great Litany. The temple seemed noisy until I started the Little Litany in Slavonic.  Maybe many of the C&E Russians were shocked to hear me do the litany in Slavonic.  Those who come on a regular basis know that I can serve in Slavonic. 

The second Little Litany was done in Greek and the Greeks in the parish told me that I did an excellent job.  Although our parish is a Russian parish, we are diverse.  We have American, Russian, Ukrainian, German, Romanian, Georgian, Eterian, and other nationalities.  One can hear English, Russian, Ukrainian, German, Romanian, French, and Latin spoken at any moment.

After the Liturgy we had our Pascha meal.  As Bishop DMITRI of blessed memory once said, "When we announce the Resurrection of Christ, we start eating and we don't stop."  I arrived home at 5:44 and left again at 14:32 and returned back at 20:03.

Before we eat, the priest blesses the Pascha baskets.  Each family who so desires brings a basket full of meats, cheese, and breads made from dairy products.  The basket has the items that we do not eat during Lent and we feast on these items.  In some parish each family brings its own basket and eats from that.  In other parish, the parish prepares a meal in which we all share.  In most parishes, we have a combination of this.  The family brings its own basket and shares with others but the parish provides the mail meal. 

I brought my own basket this year.  I had kilebasi and kulich made by the church, and blue cheese and eggs from Sam's Club.  For the first time ever, I had dyed eggs.  I used onion skins, something that I learned from the Church.  As I was leaving to go home, I wondered why somebody turned my kulich upside down.  When I got home and started emptying my basket into the refrigerator I realized that nobody turned over my kulich.  Another one was added to my basket along with a cheese pasta.  Vera personally gave me one and another was in my basket.

Pascha is very special in the Orthodox Church.  We greet one another with "Christ is risen" in various languages and kiss three times on the cheeks in the Russian church and twice in the Greek church.  The response is "He is truly risen" or "Indeed He is risen." 
 

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