Holy Week and Pascha an international celebration

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By Special to the Monitor

Members of Saint Dimitri Orthodox Church are joining Orthodox Christians all across America and the world in preparing for Holy Week and Pascha (Easter).  

This preparation begins with the end of Great Lent on Saturday, Lazarus Saturday.

Orthodox Christians use the Julian calendar for the calculation of the date of Pascha and this year the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord, Pascha, will be celebrated on April 19.

On Saturday, in addition to the celebration Divine Liturgy for the Raising of Lazarus from the grave at 9 a.m., the Blessing of the Palms in anticipation of the Feast of the Entrance into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) will follow the evening Great Vespers at 5 p.m.

Beginning with Palm Sunday morning Divine Liturgy, the themes of Orthodox worship move to the expectation of Christ the Bridegroom.

There are evening services Sunday and Wednesday called the Bridegroom Services or the Matins of the Bridegroom with psalms, prayers and readings of Scripture all focused on the events of the Passion of Christ.

On Holy Thursday evening 12 readings from the Gospels continue to guide worship on the path of the Passion of Our Lord.  

On Great and Holy Friday (Good Friday), the body of Christ is symbolically taken from the Cross and carried in procession just as though the event, beyond time, were taking place now in our time.  

The Vespers service will be sung at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon.  

The procession of the “Winding Sheet,” or “Holy Shroud” is a traditional part of the evening Matins service which begins at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Holy Saturday, the Liturgy of Saint Basil with Old Testament readings is celebrated at 9 a.m. in anticipation of the Resurrection.

At last, on Pascha the midnight celebration of Christ’s Resurrection begins and becomes a time of great joy.  “Christ is Risen!” is declared in many languages and affirmed by the congregation at the Service of Resurrection, which begins at 11:30 p.m. Saturday evening followed immediately by Matins and Divine Liturgy.  

Baskets of food and eggs and special ethnic breads and foods are blessed at the conclusion of the service.  

Following the Paschal Service the Lenten Fast, which began the first of March, will end and a great feast of traditional festal foods will be held at the church.  

The community of Saint Dimitri welcomes all who are interested in attending the services of Holy Week and Pascha celebrated in the 2,000 year-old tradition of the Church.

For additional information call Father John at 412-5707.