Holy Pascha
Holy Pascha

As it is everywhere in the Orthodox world, Pascha is the feast of feasts.  Perhaps due to the Great Lenten atmosphere in the monastery, where all revolves around the Lenten services, the strict fasting, and this year the unprecedented great flow of pilgrims every weekend during Lent, the buildup of anticipation of Paschal joy is significant.  This is especially felt during Holy Week.

            At 8PM on Holy Saturday evening, the reading of the Acts of the Apostles commences.  Anyone is allowed to read and in any language.   At 11PM the greeting of the bishop takes place, whereupon the Paschal Midnight Office starts.  After the Canon is read, two priests go out to bring the Shroud back into the altar and placed upon the altar table.  At midnight exactly, the Paschal Matins service starts with the chanting of “Thy Resurrection, O Christ God….” It is sung three times in the altar as the bishop censes the altar table, each time a bit louder.  The Royal Gates are thrown open, signifying that Paradise is now open once again.  All of the doors remain open all throughout Bright Week.

            Thus begins the Paschal Procession.  The Tomb has been removed, and the clergy process out of the church and go around the church only once, due to the quantity of the faithful.  They continue chanting “Thy Resurrection…” while there is a light ringing of the church bells.  Completing one round around the church, the clergy ascend the steps to the church.  The bishop censes the Icons, the clergy, and the faithful and starts the office of Matins.

            After this, we return to the church accompanied by the peeling of all the church bells.  The clergy sing the Paschal canon antiphonally with the choir, with the clergy taking turns at each ode censing the whole church.  The atmosphere is very joyful.  Upon completion of matins two Paschal hours are served upon which the Divine Liturgy commences.  When it is time for the Gospel reading, several clergy go to different spots and read section by section the Gospel in different languages, Greek, English, Russian, Spanish, French, and Slavonic.  This is accompanied by a light ringing of the different bells in order of size.

            Most of the faithful avail themselves of receiving Holy Communion.  At the end of the liturgy there is the mutual Paschal greeting of all in church, with the clergy holding the holy icons.  After this there is a “Procession with Glory” to the monastery refectory.  The bishop reads a special prayer for the breaking of the fast and sprinkles all the tables with holy water.  Traditionally, the Paschal breakfast is served in silence. Candles in the kulichi are lit, as they are all during Bright Week meals. 

            At noon on Sunday, a special, formal meal is served in the monastery.  Whereas for breakfast we are served kulich, cheese Pascha, eggs, bread and butter, smoked salmon, and milk, with chocolates, for lunch we have aspic of fish as the main dish.  Afterwards, Vladyka has a reception in his office to which all are invited. 

            At 3PM Paschal Vespers is served, again with a large crowd assembling.  One peculiarity of this service is the reading of the Gospel by the bishop facing the people, while the clergy stand below the ambon.  At the end, the bishop greets one and all with the Paschal greeting and the Cross.

            In the evening, Matins for Bright Monday is served.  Once again, Vladyka serves Divine Liturgy on Bright Monday and Bright Tuesday.  Each evening, throughout Bright week, Vespers and Matins are served.  On Bright Monday, after the liturgy, a Cross Procession circles the church three times.  The service of the Panagia (the “Most Holy One, referring to the prosphora in honor of the Theotokos) is held. 

            Thus the monastery observed the culmination of the Church Year, the Resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

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Holy Trinity Monastery
1407 Robinson Rd.
PO Box 36
Jordanville, NY 13361

Telephone: (315) 858-0940
FAX: (315) 858-0505