Death is over, Pascha continues.

Every experience of Pascha in the Orthodox Church is going to be unique, and I suppose a person might remember past celebrations and compare one to another, but there is no question that this year was the best. Last year was the best, too. Because right now, whatever year it is, is the Pascha that has come to us now, and Pascha is a gift from Christ, from His Church, to us, His Church. We receive the Kingdom of God into our souls, just as the mercies of God are new every morning — especially Pascha morning.

“Death is over,” our rector preached this afternoon at Vespers, and the choir was even more robust than last week, with fourteen mostly big men (and several women) singing the triumphant resurrectional hymns, and many of the rest of us singing along with our favorites.

But let me backtrack to earlier in Holy Week. I spent all day Wednesday working on my red egg project. I’ll write more about that later, because to my surprise, the “experiments” continued all the way to Friday, involving about 365 eggs in all. I was still learning things this afternoon, so I will write a thorough report for the benefit of future red egg-dyers.

Our Holy Friday services, of which there are three, begin with Matins of Holy Friday on Thursday evening; it is to me one of the most beloved of all the week’s services. It is long, because 12 Gospel passages telling of Christ’s last days are read, solemnly in the middle of the church, while we hold candles and let our hearts be taken into that moment in God’s time. This year I made it to the other two services, too, on Holy Friday proper. Then I crashed.

The morning of Holy Saturday I took my turn and read the last two hours of the Psalms, by the icon “corpse” of Christ. Probably I should have been content to sign up for just one hour; I guess I was greedy! My voice was getting hoarse by the last half hour…

Then it was time for the baptisms; it was an especially meaningful day for me,
because I am the sponsor for the young woman who became “newly illumined.”

After that long service, taking most of Saturday afternoon, and the Eucharist, we had wine and freshly baked sourdough bread, to break our fast and to keep us going a little longer.

I went home and managed to take a nap before our midnight service. Orthodox Christians can’t wait until nine or ten o’clock, as we would on a typical Sunday morning, to meet and worship. Not at all. We want to be already gathered in the church by 10:00 or 11:00 o’clock, so that we can have time to process around the whole church property, and then be back at the doors to sing “Christ is risen!” as soon as the clock has changed to Sunday.

From 2010.

There came that glorious breaking forth of jubilation, with the chandeliers laden with flowers and set to swinging; ladies and children in their long white skirts, or frilly Easter dresses; deacons repeatedly walking up and down censing the whole temple; and the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom, and the first chapter of John’s Gospel, starting with:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

So much joy, in the risen Christ, our life and our light. What can I say? We feasted on Pascha, and then we gathered in the church hall and broke our Lenten fast together with earthly food: chocolate cake, mascarpone cheese, our red eggs, salami, chicken wings, and wine. Those were just a few items I saw at our table. I got home just after 4:00, and remarkably was able to be asleep before 5:00.

Today was the Paschal Vespers, which was richer and more elated than I ever remember. But maybe I myself was just not as tired as some years! Then the Pascha picnic, and a chance to spread ourselves on our blankets over the grass or at the picnic tables, and catch up for hours in a very relaxed way, watching the babies crawl around, and the tug-o-war competitions.

I’m going to reset my body clock tonight, I hope, and attend Bright Monday’s Divine Liturgy in the morning. For this Bright Week we will have frequent reminders of how Christ’s death ended death, and that his resurrectional life sustains us every hour of every day; Pascha continues. Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

8 thoughts on “Death is over, Pascha continues.

  1. We are Lutheran, but I agree that each Easter is glorious. I love it more and more every year. My husband/pastor reads St. John Chrysotom ‘s homily every year for sunrise service.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It looks like a beautiful and exhausting Easter week. I hope you can “reset your clock” but I suspect it might take a bit. Your traditions are lovely and meaningful ones. I look forward to hearing more about the eggs. 365? Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. CHRIST IS RISEN!!! Joanna,from here in W.V. It’s been my ‘tradition’ from Pascha to Pascha, that I can’t talk about it when asked. If it’s deep into August,I sob from its blinding,powerful beauty. I’ve read your post here many times and still i’m swimming in tears fresh from the memory. We have a beloved parishioner who stood with her children as we finished procession declaring “He IS THE KING OF GLORY” as the doors swung open and the thunder of “CHRIST IS RISEN” rang out. Her husband lay fresh in his casket awaiting burial this BRIGHT MONDAY. Her face is etched in my heart and mind. TRULY HE IS RISEN! Glory to his resurrection.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for your faithfulness in continuing to reach out with your word paintings describing you and your fellow parishioners life of faith. I join you all in spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a joyous week! Holy and Great Thursday, the bishop washed the feet of 11 priests and one deacon after Liturgy, Friday we went to two services, Sat. was very long and then we also slept for 3-4 hours before heading back for the late/early service. Holy Communion was at 4am and we got home at 6am. It’s been such a joyous Pascha!


    1. Martha, the foot washing you describe, I have never known of in my short time in the Church. In an Anabaptist group I was part of once, we all washed each other’s feet four times a year. Christ is risen!


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