2001 News Archives

Orthodox Christians Worldwide to Observe Easter April 15

New York, NY - Easter will be celebrated on April 15th this year by over 250 million Orthodox Christians throughout the world.

“Go quickly and tell his disciples that He is risen from the dead “(Matthew 28:7) says Archbishop Demetrios, spiritual leader of 1.5 million Greek Orthodox in America, in his Easter Encyclical. This commandment given to the women, the first witnesses of the resurrection, is repeated today to all of us who constitute the body of the Greek Orthodox believers here in America. For it is not sufficient to limit ourselves only to the joyous celebration of the Pascha. It is not enough to sing ‘Christos Anesti’, ‘Christ Is Risen’ and to fully enjoy the great day of the Resurrection which the Lord has made for in order to rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 111:24).

We must’ go quickly’ to the people and declare that Christ is risen. We must become the messengers of His Resurrection.”

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios will officiate at Holy Week services in Greek Orthodox parishes in the 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. Holy Week will commence on Palm Sunday, April 8th.

Centuries-old religious services which recall the passion, crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ are conducted each morning and evening throughout Holy Week in Orthodox Christian Churches: Greek, Russian, Romanian, Antiochian, Bulgarian, Carpatho-Russian, Albanian, Serbian and Ukrainian, which serve some 7 million faithful in the Americas.

On Palm Sunday, during the Divine Liturgy, palms are blessed and distributed to the faithful commemorating Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem.

On 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 the people 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 are distributed to the congregation which symbolize the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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.

Orthodox Observer Online