All Saints – Resources for
GREAT & HOLY WEEK and HOLY PASCHA, 2021
1. ‘EASTER’ or ‘HOLY PASCHA’?
Whereas ‘Pascha’ is a biblical word, the word ‘Easter’ is in no way Christian. On the contrary, its etymology is derived from ‘Ēostre’, a pagan (i.e., demonic) ‘goddess’. Even the cutesy ‘easter bunny’ is suspect- the hare being one of the obscene consorts (demonic familiars) of the ‘goddess’.
‘Pascha’, ‘Paște’ - Πάσχα in the LXX – is the Greek form of the Hebrew 'Passover'. The Jewish Passover, the freeing of the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage, becomes the Christian feast of the death and resurrection of Christ, freeing man from the bondage of death: For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival [1 Corinthians 5:7].
2. ‘HOLIDAYS’ = ‘HOLY DAYS’
In the secularised West, even here in the UK, the day of Christ’s Holy Crucifixion still remains a bank holiday. This continuation is a recognition that this is a day when Christians do not work unless they absolutely have to. This year, as so often, Christian Holy Pascha does not coincide with Western ‘Easter’. This means that, for us Orthodox who live in the west, Holy Friday is – according to the state - a ‘working day’. I thank God and applaud all of you who have heeded the advice to take time off during Holy Week, and who at the very least took off Holy Friday (if you were able). Holy Friday is a ‘holiday’ – literally a ‘holy day’- and one of the holiest in the Christian year. To reap the fullest spiritual benefit from Christ’s divine sacrifice, we need to be away from the distractions of work, fasting and praying, attending holy services.
As at the beginning of Great Lent, our fasting is most vigorous, the strict observance is severe. This helps to install in us a recognition of the enormity of our predicament, and the necessity of endurance and struggle [Matthew 11:12]. Our Holy Church prescribes to us only medicine which is appropriate and efficacious – nothing extraneous or superfluous. We, the spiritually sick, are free: we may or may not follow the advice of the physician of our souls [cf. Matthew 9:12].
The daily fasting during Great & Holy Week is as follows:
Holy Monday to Holy Wednesday - one meal per day, xerofagia (vegetables cooked in water; also nuts, dry bread; water and juice).
Holy Thursday - one meal per day, with wine and oil.
Holy Friday – no meal, the ‘black fast’.
Holy Saturday - no meal.
These instructions are in accordance with the monastic practice of the Church, and as promulgated to the laity by Metropolitan Kallistos [Ware].
Where we lack strength for the ‘black fast’, we should have a little bread or dried fruit, and water, but not until the evening (after the veneration of the Epitafios on Holy Friday, or after the Divine Liturgy on Holy Saturday).
The elderly, those of poor health, pregnant women, et al., should approach the fast with caution and moderation, and with the guidance of the spiritual father/parish priest, and are not expected to fast from food as above. Certainly, all of us, even the sick and weak, can do more – children can eat less sweets, adults can eat smaller portions, all should pray more, and sacrifice the things of this world. Yes, we may feel weak and tired and maybe irritable, but we should push on through - these symptoms are not serious.
We must all of us do what we are able; pray to God to give us the strength to push our self a little bit further, praying for diakrisis (spiritual discernment) to hear the still, small voice of God [1 Kingdoms 19:11-13]; to take up our cross [Luke 9:23], and to answer the call [Matthew 22:14]. We should be prudent and wise [Proverbs 1:3; Matthew 10:16]; avoiding both impetuosity [2 Samuel 22:17] and cowardice [Proverbs 28:1; Joshua 1:9; Apokalypse 21:8], and being driven by our pride [Proverbs 16:18].
4. FLORAL DECORATION of the KOUVOUKLION
In the afternoon of Holy Friday, women, girls, anyone, will gather together to help Presbytera Susanna dress and decorate the Tomb of our Lord with flowers.
5. TIMETABLE of the HOLY WEEK and PASCHAL SERVICES at ALL SAINTS
Times are on our parish website: https://orthodoxbasildon.org.uk/
6. A BRIEF NOTE on some of the HOLY SERVICES
Holy Wednesday - Euchelion: – Holy Unction: anointing with Holy Oil. To heal the sick and to strengthen the weak.
Holy Friday - Apokathelōsis: The taking down of our Lord from the Cross vesperal service. This starts with Ps. 103; includes OT readings, Epistle, Gospel; XP removed from Cross, Epitafios to the kouvouklion, veneration by the faithful.
Holy Friday - Epitáphios Thrēnos: The Orthros of Holy Saturday, with lamentations and procession. The service includes trisagion, psalms, ektenia, kathismata, canon/katavasia, lamentations, evlogetaria, ainoi, procession, readings, dismissal.
Holy Saturday - Vesperal Divine Liturgy: This service is rich with Old Testament prophecies – 15 of them!
Holy Saturday Night: We start reading the Book of Acts, followed by the Midnight Office.
HOLY PASCHA: starts with the giving of the Holy Light; we have the resurrection procession outside; returning to the Holy Temple, followed by Orthros and Divine Liturgy. Sometime around 03:00, the holy services will be concluded, and we’ll share fellowship, breaking the fast together and sharing the joy of Christ Who is Risen from the dead!
7. TWO RECOMMENDED BOOKS:
MEΓAΛH EBΔOMAΣ ΠAΣXA - HOLY WEEK
Ed. Father George Papadeas.
Daytona Beach, Fla.: Patmos Press, 1996.
THE LENTEN TRIODION
Tr. Mother Mary & Archimandrite [now Met.] Kallistos Ware.
London: Faber & Faber, 1978.
With love and prayers, in Christ,
Parish Priest of All Saints
Great and Holy Monday, 2021
The Orthodox Church simply calls itself "the Church", just as the Greeks in the past used the word "Christians" to refer to the Orthodox. This follows naturally from the fact that the Eastern Orthodox Church is organically the same congregation orekklesia which was born at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem on Pentecost. In many places already mentioned in the New Testament this congregation has remained the same throughout history. The Orthodox Church does not need to give proof of its historical authenticity; it is simply the direct continuation of the Church of the Apostolic Age.
~ Archbishop Paul [Olimari] of Finland
The disciples were first called Christian at Antioch – Acts 11:26
ALL SAINTS, NORTH BENFLEET is privileged to be under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, and we are blessed to be under the holy omophorion of His Eminence, Metropolitan Silouan, Archbishop of the British Isles and Ireland.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and to the ages – Hebrews 13:8
The holy Orthodox Church is the Bride of Christ. She is the unique and true guardian of the New Testament paradigm: of the praxis and faith delivered by Christ 'once and for all' to His holy Apostles. This Christ-centred faith is both ancient and ever-new; it requires no alteration, has no confusion of the Holy Trinity, does not deny the veneration of the Mother of God or the saints or the holy ikons, has no need to devise new and secular structures of the Church. This faith is fully preserved in Holy Tradition – in Scripture and also in doctrine, prayer, our holy services, and even in the form of the Christian holy Temple, and is made most manifest in the glorious lives of the saints and martyrs. Christ is glorified in His saints – 2 Thessalonians 1:10.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us – John 1:14
The holy Orthodox Church is the Body of Christ. The Christian faith is an incarnate one – we cherish the humanity of God and the potential divinity of man; and we understand the paradoxical necessity of the material in the spiritual life – of holy ikons, of water and oil, of chrism and incense, of the bread and wine which, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, truly become the Precious and Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ God. Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, if you shall not have eaten the flesh of the Son of Man and drunk His blood, you do not have life in yourselves' – John 6:53.
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour – Luke 1:46-47
Christianity requires faith and action. Summarised in the Symbol of Faith (Nicene Creed), this Christian faith is best experienced in our Christian holy services – in particular in the Divine Liturgy. We invite all genuine seekers to 'come and see' what true, universal and apostolic Christianity is all about. 'Come to me, all those who are toiling and being burdened, and I will give you rest' – Matthew 11:28.