Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pascha and Bright Week--the aftermath

Last Sunday, I was one of many faithful who gathered at the Dormition of St. Mary Church in Omaha, NE at 5:30 a.m. to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ which gave us victory over sin and death. It was nothing short of a glorious day. The solemnity and the extra vigil and extra prayers during Holy Week only made the glorious truth that we proclaim all year round on every Sunday all the more heartfelt.

But now, where do we go? For those of us, like myself as I am a chanter, we start to feel a disconnect because we are not in church as much. As you acclimate yourself to the extra time spent in prayer and meditation over the Scriptures, it seems that I am left in want of more now that Holy Week and Pascha are over. I do not belong to a church which offers daily services or even mid week services unlike a growing number of Orthodox churches in the Antiochian Archdiocese around this nation. So, aside from my own efforts at home, I am left starving for more. I know that it would be impossible to offer daily services at our church since hardly anyone comes to Orthros or Vespers on the weekend as it is now! But, I know that I would benefit greatly.

Why is it that I find such difficulty with basking in the joy of Pascha? Why is it that I cannot continue the joy I find throughout Holy Week and culminating in Pascha into Bright Week and beyond? The words with which we begin every prayer from Pascha through Ascension should be enough to fill even the hardest of hearts with joy. Those words reflect our whole theology: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life! So, why isn't that enough for me?

If anyone has some great ideas for me, let me know. I'm not kidding.


  1. I wonder if it is the case that when you experience fully the foretaste that it invariably leaves you hungering for the whole feast - Pascha as we celebrate it during our pilgrimage is a blessed foretaste, but the fullness to which it points and even gives us a share in, cannot be had this side of the general Resurrection.

    Yet one way of extending the joy of Pascha is to take it from the temple to the home (which is a temple of a lesser order). And so to devote one's self to praying the Offices at home and singing the Paschal hymns. The little prayer white prayer book with the daily hours (can't remember its name) can certainly help. Even when you pray them alone, you realize how not alone you are: the whole Church joins in the morning and evening sacrifice of praise.

    Much love in Him who is victor over death!

  2. Christ is risen!

    In regard to your dilemma & the previous comment, I deal with the same frustration myself & blogged about it as well:

    Just the first few paragraphs are relevant. Maybe it'll help (if for no other reason than to know you're not the only one).

    Along the lines of what William said, this feeling of imperfect or incomplete joy is just a reminder to us that we're still in the fallen world, and, I think, it can give us more of a reason to hunger for the general Resurrection (and, by the mercy and grace of God, an eternal life with Him). I have to actively convert my melancholy into an intense desire to want to put myself in sync with the will of God - more now than ever. And so, God willing, come every Pascha, we have added another rung to the ladder that we are climbing towards Him. It is good for us to have a constant uneasiness about our condition

  3. Christos aneste!

    You are not the only one to experience this phenomenon. Fortunately, in my parish, the the Paschal matins and Divine Liturgy were served every morning during Bright Week. (I am a Byzantine Catholic; I consider myself as an Orthodox in communion with the See of Rome).

    I sing the Paschal Troparion to myself during the day. Still, there is a sense of let-down following the Paschal celebration.

  4. Thank you all for your kind advice. Fr. William, the week after Pascha, the Paschal hours are appointed to be said as a replacement for all offices,save for Orthros (Matins) and Vespers. And there is great beauty in those prayers and though we are now out of Bright Week, the Paschal Troparion of Christ is Risen is still on our lips, our minds and hearts.

    Andreas, your thoughts are very much my own. I wonder, though, if it would be of that much more help if I had a spouse. That way we could encourage each to other to be faithful and help each other when one falls. As I am not married, and really don't plan to be, that is kind of hard. But I do think that for the Christian in this world, to be alone is not necessarily spiritually helpful.

    Constantine, Alithos Anesti! I wish that daily Paschal Matins and Liturgy were an option for me, but, sadly, such is not the case. We are a small parish (about 150 individuals and families) and, as I said earlier, people simply don't come to things on any day except Sunday even if it is a major feast. I applaud your priest and the faithful of your parish.

    thanks, everyone. Keep the advice coming!

  5. Interesting point about being my being married. At first I was confused as to why you mentioned that in regard to my comment, but then I recalled the quote I used in my post from St. John Chrysostom...I wasn't even necessarily referring to the marital 'fast'...

    However, since you brought that up, I suppose you are right, in terms of having an added source of encouragement. But, to that I would add that in marriage, our spouse is sometimes the avenue taken by the evil one to tempt us. At points of spiritual weakness or acute struggle (like the one we have brought up in our mutual posts), a spouse can sometimes be the vehicle for increased temptation rather than healing.

    I don't disagree with your point, but just wanted to present the other side of the coin.

    I was speaking with a friend, who is, for all intents and purposes, a subdeacon to our Metropolitan, and we were discussing the celibate clergy, and he made the beautiful remark that many of them (especially those who have no female family members) have a strong relationship with Our Lady the Theotokos. This was something that I could not really wrap my head or heart around, but it sounded desirable. I don't know if that helps you at all, but perhaps it would be fruitful to look into this, or perhaps read through the akathist to the Holy Virgin for inspiration?

    Much strength to you in the risen Lord!

  6. Andreas,

    My reading of your Chrysostom quote was exactly the reason I talked about marriage. Yes, I see that there is another side of the coin, though I hope that if I were ever to be married it would be to an Orthodox spouse who would be strong in the faith to help my unbelief at times.

    It appears to me that the most compelling sermons, writings and hymns dedicated to the Theotokos do seem to come from the celibate clergy. She is their "wife" in a manner of speaking. My relationship with her is definitely not as strong as theirs but her icon is radiant on my iconostasis at home and I ask for her intercessions all the time, especially for the gift of celibacy and chastity in all things towards all people. It could be stronger, but I intend to work on it still.

    Thanks for the advice.

    In our Risen Lord!

  7. check out St. Vincent's Antiochian Orthodox, Western rite church. We love visitors and have daily mass and matins.

  8. Anonymous,

    I've been to St. vincent's many times and I do appreciate Fr. Theodore's active liturgical schedule. Sometimes you will see me there on Thursday or Friday afternoon Vespers.

    However, nothing against the Western Rite, but I prefer the Eastern Rite.