Sunday, April 28, 2019

When I came to the church last night, it was already becoming crowded so, after I vested, I took my place near the 300+ year old icon of Jesus Christ and began hearing confessions. There were so many to be heard that I had to make them somewhat brief.  Soon the church was in total darkness, then Vladika Lazar came out with a candle to pass on the flame to all those in the church.  In no time, the church was illuminated with candlelight and the procession began.  Unfortunately neither Vladika Lazar nor I could join in the procession, although we did get a glimpse of it through one of the altar windows.  The procession wended its way to the gatehouse and back again.  The Paschal Matins then began and my apprehension about the singing was allayed, as there was almost no singing rehearsals done beforehand.  Deacon Markel was instrumental in uniting the actions of the clergy with the singing at the kliros.  Eventually the Paschal Liturgy began and, to my delight, almost no one left, as is the habit in many churches where a large part of the congregation leaves if not after the initial procession, then at least before the Liturgy begins.  The Tropar, in particular, was sung in English, Slavonic, Romanian, Greek and Georgian. In addition to Vladika Lazar and myself, we had Father Vasili from Florida with us as well as Father Alexey and the Georgian Father Shio. If I remember correctly, the service ended near four in the morning, ending with the blessing of the paschal eggs, the artos and the many baskets in the dining room.  Thereupon, the breaking of the fast began which lasted quite a while and it was six o’clock before I could fall asleep.  By nine I was awake and soon I left for the church, knowing that there would be many people arriving with their baskets to be blessed. Although the church was filled at night, now, in the morning, the gathering was fewer in number, but, once again, the food was blessed and the hall filled up with everyone enjoying this feast.  The day was long, I was tired, but what a glorious feeling to have had such a wonderful feast of feasts, and now we await the coming of next year’s Pascha.  Many thanks to everyone who worked so hard for the success of the great day and to the visitors who were moved to pitch in and clean up at the end of the day.  Once again, let us cry out  CHRIST IS RISEN,  TRULY HE IS RISEN!

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