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SUMMARY: ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN OBSERVANCE OF PASCHA

SUMMARY: ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN OBSERVANCE OF PASCHA

Icon of the Immeasurable Humility
The Orthodox date for Pascha (or “Passover”) is based on a decree of the Council of Nicaea, Asia Minor, held in 325 A.D.  According to this decree, Pascha must be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox but always after the Jewish Passover to maintain the Biblical sequence of events of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The Orthodox Christian churches have adhered strictly to this formula.
 
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.
 
Palm Sunday – commemorated Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem and during the Divine Liturgy palms will be blessed and distributed to the faithful.

Holy Tuesday, the Service of the Bridegroom will be conducted and the beautiful Hymn of repentance composed by St. Kassianne will be sung.
 
Holy Wednesday, the faithful will be anointed with the Sacrament of Holy Unction, blessed oil, which cleanses, renews and strengthens both spiritually and physically.
 
Holy Thursday evening, the Service of Holy Passion will take place, during which the Twelve Lessons of the Gospel will be 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 the Crucifixion is sung.
Holy Friday morning, the Vespers of the Descent from the Cross, is offered. The Body of Christ is taken down from the Cross, wrapped in white linen and is prepared for burial.
Holy Friday evening, the Lamentations are sung during the Epitaphios Service, which symbolizes the burial of Christ.
Holy Saturday evening, is the Pascal Resurrection Service. 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 Pascal eggs, which symbolize the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, are distributed to the congregation.
Pascal Sunday, the Vespers of AGAPE (Love) is celebrated with the Holy Gospel of the Resurrection read in several languages emphasizing the universality of Christ’s teaching of love and peace.
Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

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