Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Pascha Most Sacred!

on April 22, 2014

“Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered. Pascha most sacred is revealed to us today; Pascha new and holy; Pascha so mystical; Pascha most ven’rable; Pascha which is Christ the Redeemer; Pascha so spotless; Pascha so very great; Pascha of the faithful; Pascha which opened for us the gates of Paradise; Pascha which sanctifies all the faithful.” (from the Paschal Hymns of Resurrection Matins)

Christ is risen! Indeed he is risen!

Dressed in our Easter finery.

Dressed in our Easter finery.

On Sunday my family celebrated Easter for the first time in the Byzantine tradition. It was beautiful, edifying, moving, and inspiring. I was able to attend liturgies on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning, and each was beautiful as part of the whole story of Great and Holy Week. On Friday, we processed around the outside of the church with a Holy Shroud, an ornately embroidered cloth with an icon of Jesus laying out as though in a tomb; the icon was made of fabric, I think. We processed then took the shroud back into the church where it was laid in a “tomb” surrounded by candles and flowers. Each parishioner then approached the shroud, crawling on our knees, to kiss the face, hands, and feet of Jesus. On Saturday, the liturgy focused on the theology of baptism as passing from death into new life. During one of the songs, the priest picked up the shroud and laid it across his shoulders. He carried it out of the “tomb” and put it on the altar where it always rests. The sacrament of Holy Eucharist takes place upon the icon of Christ at every liturgy. I never noticed that before this week.

On Sunday morning, we started with the Resurrection Matins, which are sung only on Easter morning each year. Matins begins with another procession around the outside of the church, this time with the icon of the Resurrection. During Matins we sang the refrain, “Christ is risen from the dead! By death He conquered Death, and to those in the grave He granted life.” When I say we sang that refrain, what I’m saying is we sang it about five million times. After Matins, we jumped right in to Divine Liturgy. It was a long morning, but so beautiful and joyful. At the end of liturgy, Fr. Sal suggested all the parishioners go out to the front steps of the church for an Easter morning group photo. All the parishioners. That is one of the wonderful things about belonging to a smaller parish.

Our traditional Easter foods, and my natural-dyed eggs.

Our traditional Easter foods, and my natural-dyed eggs.

Jeremy and I also participated in the Ukrainian traditional Easter foods. The tradition is to fill a basket with the foods you will eat after liturgy on Easter day. You bring the basket to church Saturday and the priest blesses the food. Then, you take it home and you have to eat all of it, because it’s blessed! If you don’t want to eat that last egg, you have to bury it in the ground; you can’t just throw it away! The traditional foods are ham and/or sausage, hard cooked eggs, pascha bread, butter molded into the shape of a lamb, cream cheese, and beet horseradish relish. It was not like Easter dinners I’ve eaten before, but it was delicious!

For our Easter eggs, I decided to try natural dyes. I used some of the juice from my purple sauerkraut, and turmeric. I added a bit of water and vinegar to both. The eggs turned out blue and yellow, which happen to be the national colors of Ukraine! I did not plan that at all, those were just the natural things I had around that I thought would work to dye eggs! It was really fun using the natural dyes. I would like to experiment with other things, and I don’t see why colored eggs should belong to Easter only. I’m going to do it any old time!

So, after a long break away from my blog, I am happy to be back! We moved to a new home last week, so for a few weeks we were working flat out to pack up at the old place, then we moved and didn’t have internet yet, and we were working flat out to unpack the essential items. Now things are calming as we have reached the point that whatever is in a box isn’t urgently needed, so we can work at a more reasonable pace. And we obviously have internet again!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holy day. Remember to keep the party going: Easter lasts for fifty days!

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4 responses to “Pascha Most Sacred!

  1. Kathy Schwager says:

    It’s good to see the blog again. I always enjoy reading what you have to say. I absolutely love the photo of the three of you! I’m going to print it out and frame it. Love to all of you!

  2. I have a natural red egg dye process for Pascha eggs for the next time you are interested! Sounds like you have a wonderful parish. We’re so happy for you! Priest’s Wife linked to you and I’m glad I stopped by!

    • judy says:

      So sorry I just saw this comment. It was hiding in my spam folder and I’ve never found real comments in the spam folder before! I am interested in your red Pascha eggs! Can I try it any time, even if it’s not Pascha? Well, if I do it in the next couple weeks I should be fine… 😀 Thank you for visiting!

  3. Peggy Harkins says:

    I’m a theology teacher in San Antonio staying up late to make a powerpoint on St. Maria Goretti. Somehow your blog popped up (I guess because you asked for her intercession). Even though I am exhausted and have miles to go before I sleep, I just wanted you to know that your story of Agnes has touched me to the core and that I am praying for you and your family. May God heal and strengthen you with His grace, and may you hear Agnes’ sweet laughter – not her crying!- in your dreams. St. Maria G. apparently spoke to her brothers in their dreams, so perhaps will little saint Agnes speak to you. You now have a part of yourself in heaven, so I pray that you are able to experience just a tiny bit of its peace and consolation, where every tear is wiped away and where there will be all the time in eternity to hold and love sweet Agnes. God is holding you in His hands, just as you held her. Jesus, we trust in You!

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