Dear brothers and sisters – Christ is Risen! Христос воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Χριστός ἀνέστη!
After a prayerful Holy Week in Nazareth House, Pascha night brought a very well attended and beautiful celebration of the resurrection in St John’s, Canton.
At the beginning of the Midnight Office of Holy Saturday, we were somewhat puzzled by such unexpectedly low numbers in St John’s, but during the singing of the canon, the continual rising and falling of the door-latch announced the arrival of groups of friends, families and carloads of worshippers: Greeks, Russians, Ukrainians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Romanians, and locals – and others came and went during the long services, joining our procession around the church before the proclamation of the resurrection after the third circling of St John’s.
In the stillness of the mild spring night, no candles were blown out and nothing detracted from the prayerful chanting of the faithful:
“Воскресе́ние Твое́, Христе́ Спа́се, А́нгели пою́т на Небесе́х, и нас на земли́ сподо́би чи́стым се́рдцем Тебе́ сла́вити.”
“Thy Resurrection, O Christ Saviour, the angels hymn in the heavens; vouchsafe also us on earth with to glorify Thee in purity of heart.”
Every year we greatly look forward to the singing of the Paschal Canon, with the repeated censing and changing vestment colours, and the constantly repeated “Christ is Risen!”
This year was no different, as the choir alternated singing in Slavonic and English, mirroring the alternating language of our deacons, and the sight of so many joyful faces lit by the flames of their candles was a wonderful sight as I censed the church with the necessary vigour and haste needed of Pascha night, after the servers removed one phelonion and replaced it with one of a different colour: red, gold, blue, green… finally returning to white.
After a busy week of confessions, we knew that there would be many communicants, including visitors, and it was wonderful that so many of the faithful partook of the Holy Mysteries. Some of those who communed had also partaken of the mystery of Holy Unction.
Eggs and Paschal baskets were blessed at the end of Liturgy, before the distribution of eggs at the kissing of the Cross.
As always, the services of Pascha passed in such a seemingly short time, and I was very glad that our Wessex parishioners and students stayed to share a meal with some of the core members of the parish – though it would have been nice to have far more doing so!
Next Saturday will see a group of us head to Mathern and Tintern, on a local pilgrimage to honour St Tewdrig, after a morning service in Nazareth House. I had hoped to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, but a lack of singers may preclude this. However, we shall still have a service at 11:00, before heading east.
Anyone wishing to join us is asked to email our Pilgrimage Coordinator, Tracy: email@example.com
Before then, I shall hear confession in Nazareth House, on Thursday, and would appreciate an email from those confessing by Wednesday midday.
Please make sure that Paschal prayers and hymns resound throughout the week.
Finally, profound thanks to those who have worked so hard for Holy Week and Pascha.
Our choir and servers have been wonderful, and having Hierodeacon Avaraamy has made an immense difference to our celebrations.
Thanks to matushka Alla for the floral decorations, and for all who brought flowers, and supplied food for the clergy throughout the week, as well as dyed eggs for Pascha night and wonderful food with which to celebrate the resurrection.
Thanks also to the brothers of the parish for spending so many hours setting up and putting away. This added hours to the week’s services, and was quite a challenge, especially after three-and-a-half-hour services.
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark