What about Pascha?

In my last post I shared my husbands thoughts on the very real potential of us not gathering for Holy Week and Pascha. Earlier this week I wrote an article for our Church newsletter that what titled, as this post is titled, “What about Pascha?” in where I share my thoughts and our hopes on what we hope to do as a family. I wanted to share that article here with you.

As April begins many of us are no doubt feeling worried about the fast approaching of Holy Week and Pascha while we are all still sitting at home in quarantine. What if, as we approach Holy Week, the governor extends his “stay home order”, and we cannot come together for services of Christ’s Passion? And further, if we cannot gather for the celebrations of His Holy Resurrection?

I’ll be honest with you this is ever on my mind. There was even one day when I seriously despaired over this ever-approaching potential reality. In 20 years of being Orthodox, never in my wildest imaginations could I have ever conceived of the idea that there wouldn’t be Pascha.

But on that day of despair, I was looking at things all wrong. You see, no matter what, there will always be Pascha! As our Archbishop Benjamin pointed out at the end of his Homily on the Sunday of the Cross, “There is nothing, no power on earth, including some virus, that can take the joy of the Cross and the Lord’s Pascha from us.”

I needed to read those words! We all need to lean upon the truth of those words and so many others from scripture.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. –Philippians 4: 4-8

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  –John 14:27

And today, as I listened to Fr. John’s homily during the broadcasted liturgy I took these words away to ponder: “Let us take something good out of this exile. He is constantly renewing us. Come to the Joy! For Christ is Risen!” And I add, every day!

So, absorbing the truth of these words, we’d like to bring encouragement to all our parish family who we will miss dearly if we are unable to assemble to celebrate on that blessed day. We want to share a bit of hope and some ideas on how we can experience Holy Week and Pascha in our homes. We must look to that blessed day as a renewal and a very bright Light of hope!

So, what about Pascha? What can we do in our homes whether alone or with our family? Well, to start, we will celebrate! We will not let the enemy trample us down, but rather we will shout with joy on that day: Christ is Risen! We offer these ideas from our own planning of what we will do in our own home if we are unable to be with you.

1. Set aside time each day/evening to read, chant or sing as much of the services as you can through Holy Week and Pascha. You can use the little colorful service books that some have bought or already own. But if you don’t have these, Kelsey will be working on creating some PDF’s for each service that can be shared and printed.

In the context of these services we plan to do as much as we can to bring them alive just as in the church. Examples: During the 12 Passion Gospels read on Holy Thursday, we will bring a cross to the center in our icon corner. And on Holy Friday we will create a bier(tomb) at our icon corner.

2. Decorate your homes for the Feast of Feasts with flowers from your yard.

3. We plan to be up at Midnight and read/sing/chant Nocturns and Matins and Typica proclaiming loudly to our neighbors that Christ is Risen from the dead trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

4. Plan ahead for a celebration with all the wonderful foods we see at Pascha. Enclosed in this newsletter are some traditional recipes we often have served on the Feast. Try your hand at making Pascha cheese, or Pascha bread (Kulich). Dye some eggs red. Create a Pascha basket just like you would do to bring to church and bring it out Sunday morning of Pascha.

Even if you are only able to do some of this, I find it so encouraging and beautiful to know that if we are not together in body we will be together and rejoicing in spirit. For nothing on earth can prevent Christ’s Holy Pascha!

I offer these words from Matins, Tuesday of the 5th Week: “Therefore, we entreat Thee: Grant us to complete in peace the time of the Fast.”

Missing you all and in much love, Susan

Since I wrote this to my beautiful parish family I have come across several wonderful other posts and articles that are full of ideas on how one can bring Paschal celebrations home.

Over at CharlotteRiggle.com Charlie has a whole blog post on celebrating Holy Week and Pascha at home. It is Wonderful!

Over at Raising Saints Elissa Bjeletich as a very detailed post on Planning Holy Week and Pascha for your family. This is geared towards those with children but I saw some great ideas I hope to use in my own home.

So grateful for this big community of folks online who share and encourage one another.

Even though we cannot be in the Church building and celebrating together. It is beautiful to know we will all be celebrating and proclaiming our risen Lord!

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