2010 News Archives

Orthodox Christians To Observe Pascha (Easter) April 4

NEW YORK – More than 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide will celebrate Easter (Pascha) this Sunday April 4. Faithful in greatnumbers, crowd churches for Holy Week services and in preparation for the Feast of Feasts, the Resurrection of Christ.

“In the joy and light of the glorious Resurrection of our Lord we gather on this Holy and Great Feast of Pascha to celebrate the life-giving presence and power of Christ,” says Archbishop Demetrios, spiritual leader of 1.5 million Greek Orthodox Christians in America in his Easter Encyclical. “On this day, we give the highest praise to God for His love.  On this feast, our thankfulness is unceasing, as we contemplate our restoration from death to life.  Today, we offer the brightest witness throughout the world as we proclaim our faith in our Savior.  On this day, our hearts are enlivened with the victory of the ages. Christ is risen.  Death has been defeated, and we will live forever in blessed communion with God.” And His Eminence concludes his message: 

“May the beautiful and unwaning light of Pascha, this light of divine truth that shines in our hearts be ever brighter on this great and glorious Feast of Pascha.  May our joy be so immense and the love that we share so complete that each and every person and all of creation will hear our hymn and know that Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!”

Archbishop Demetrios is officiating at Holy Week services in Greek Orthodox parishes in the New York metropolitan area including Good Friday Lamentations and Resurrection services Saturday at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (319 East 74th St. New York City). Good Friday services will begin at 8:00 p.m. and Resurrection Services Saturday evening at 11:00 p.m.

Centuries-old religious services which recall the passion, crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ are conducted each morning and evening throughout this Holy Week in Orthodox Christian Churches including: Greek, Russian, Romanian, Antiochian, Bulgarian, Carpatho-Russian, Albanian, Serbian and Ukrainian, which serve some 6 million faithful in the Americas.

This past Sunday – Palm Sunday – during the Divine Liturgy, palms were blessed and distributed to the faithful commemorating Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem.

Today, Holy Wednesday the faithful are anointed with the Sacrament of Holy Unction, blessed oil, which cleanses, renews and strengthens both spiritually and physically.

On Holy Thursday evening, the Service of Holy Passion takes place, during which the Twelve Lessons of the Gospel are read. After the Fifth Gospel a solemn litany begins. A large crucifix is carried in a procession led by the clergy as the mournful hymn of Crucifixion is sung.

On Good Friday afternoon, the Vespers of the Descent from the Cross are offered. The Body of Christ is taken down from the Cross, wrapped in white linen and is prepared for burial.

On Good Friday evening, the Lamentations are sung during the Epitaphios Service, which symbolizes the burial of Christ.

On Holy Saturday evening, the Easter Resurrection Service begins with Matins at 11 p.m. At midnight, the Church is completely darkened and the faithful wait in joyous expectation for the Bishop or priest to come forth carrying a white candle, chanting, Come; Receive the Light, the Light of the Resurrection. The light is passed to the congregation until the Church is ablaze with the glow of candlelight. A procession of altar boys, choir, chanters and clergy joined by all the faithful move outdoors where the Gospel proclaiming the Resurrection of Christ is read. The triumphant hymn, Christos Anesti, Christ is Risen is joyously sung by the faithful. At the conclusion of the Resurrection Liturgy, red Easter eggs, which symbolize the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, are distributed to the congregation.

On Easter Sunday, the Vespers of AGAPE (Love) are celebrated with the Holy Gospel of the Resurrection read in several languages emphasizing the universality of Christ’s teaching of love and peace.

This year the Orthodox Pascha date coincides with the celebration of the Western Easter. The Orthodox date for Easter is based on a decree of the Council of Nicaea, Asia Minor, held in 325 A.D. According to this decree, Easter must be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox but always after the Hebrew Passover to maintain the Biblical sequence of events of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The Orthodox Christian churches have adhered strictly to this formula.
Orthodox Observer Online