Christ is Risen – Христос Bоскресe – Le Christ est ressuscité

Paschal schedule & reflection on our spiritual journey through Passion Week

Great Saturday and the Bright Resurrection of Christ – The Pascha,  4-5 May

11:30 pm Midnight Office, Paschal Matins, Divine Liturgy

03:00 am (approximately) Breaking of the Fast at the Parish Hall

Resurrection Sunday,  5 May

2:30 pm Vespers and Parish potluck luncheon at the Parish Hall

Bright Monday, 6 May

10:00 am Hours, Divine Liturgy, Cross Procession and Parish potluck luncheon at the church manse

Looking back at our spiritual journey through Passion Week

During Passion Week, we experience a journey through various lands before reaching the Holy Land. Finally, on Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, we enter Jerusalem with Our Lord. During the Divine Services of Passion Week, we are thankful to experience the Gospel account of our Lord’s passion, death, and, at the Midnight Paschal Matins, his Resurrection. The faithful parishioners at St. Xenia have been deeply moved by the powerful and meaningful experience of the events leading up to Pascha.

During Great Thursday and Friday Matins, we commemorated the events of the final three days of Christ’s Passion. While reading the Twelve Passion Gospel before the Crucified Christ, the faithful held candles, reliving the sufferings of our Lord and burning with love for Him. Following the ancient custom of Russian Orthodox Christians, many of our parishioners took home a flame to light a lamp before their icon corner as a sign of reverence.

The Hours of Great Friday repeats the Gospels of Christ’s passion with readings from Old Testament prophecies concerning our redemption, and from letters of Saint Paul relative to personal salvation through the sufferings of Christ. The psalms used are also of a prophetic character. Vespers of Good Friday was celebrated in the mid-afternoon to commemorate the burial of Christ. Before the service, the “tomb” was erected in the middle of our church and was decorated with flowers. A special icon painted on the symbolic shroud (in Slavonic, plaschanitsa) depicting the reposed Saviour was placed on the altar table. Later when the Troparion of the day was chanted, Fr Oleg and acolytes circled the altar table with the shroud carried above his head and placed it on the tomb for veneration by the gathered faithful.

On Great Saturday morning, a Vespers service is held before the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great. Originally, this Liturgy served as the Paschal baptismal liturgy of Christians. Today, it remains an annual experience for every Christian to die and rise with the Lord. Although Christ is dead, he is alive. He lies in the tomb, yet he is already “trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.” At this point, there is nothing left to do but live through the evening of the Blessed Sabbath, during which Christ sleeps, waiting for the midnight hour.

Paschal Matins and Divine Liturgy

On Saturday, just before midnight, our priest will go to the tomb and remove the shroud. He will then carry it through the Royal Doors and place it on the altar table, where it will remain for forty days until the day of Ascension. At midnight, the Paschal procession will begin. The faithful will leave the church singing: “The angels in heaven, O Christ our Savior, sing of Thy resurrection. Make us on earth also worthy to hymn Thee with a pure heart.” The procession will circle the church and return to the closed doors at the front of the church. This procession symbolizes the original baptismal procession from the darkness and death of this world to the light and life of the Kingdom of God. Before the closed doors of the church, the resurrection of Christ will be announced. The Paschal Troparion will be sung for the first time: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.” The faithful will then re-enter the church and continue the service of Paschal Matins, which is entirely sung.

After the Paschal Matins, the Hours will also be sung, and before the Divine Liturgy, our priest will proclaim the famous Paschal Sermon of Saint John Chrysostom. It is an invitation to all the faithful to forget their sins and to fully join in the feast of the Resurrection of Christ.

Breaking of the Fast.  After the Divine Liturgy, everyone is invited to Elizabeth L. Skok Memorial parish hall to joyously break-the-fast together. They can bring food with them, including from their blessed baskets.

Special Notice  – Just completed fresco of the Crucified Christ in the North Transept

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Matushka Olga for her exceptional talent and humble service. During Great Lent and in time for Pascha, Matushka worked tirelessly to complete a stunning new fresco depicting Christ being taken down from the Cross. This follows her previous work in the South Transept, where she painted a series of scenes from Christ’s life, starting with the Annunciation to the Theotokos.

The painting shown at the beginning of this post was painted by Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia, who spent her last years in Canada. She was well known among the Russian émigré community of Toronto and Ontario as a shining example of Orthodox humility and grace.

On behalf of Fr. Oleg Mironov and the St Xenia Parish Council