The Feast of the Resurrection
Pascha is the greatest and most joyful feast in the Church's calendar.
It is a movable Feast and the date of its celebration each year is determined according to a formula agreed to by the Church at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.
Pascha celebrates Our Lord and Saviour's Resurrection from the dead conquering death for all those who follow him.
It is immediately preceded by Great Lent and Holy Week, times during which Orthodox Christians prepare themselves with prayer, fasting and repentance for their spiritual growth and the coming feast.
Holy Week ends and Pascha begins at sunset on Holy Saturday, recalling the Jewish Sabbath which begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday.
We know from the Gospels that Christ was crucified on Friday and remained in the tomb during the Sabbath.
Paschal church services
And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
The faithful enter the darkened church before midnight for the Midnight Office which is immediately followed by
The priest emerges from the sanctuary with a lighted candle and the people receive the light by lighting their own candles from his.
Then all but one, leave the church, the doors are closed and the faithful, led by the priest process around it three times.
The priest knocks on the door of the church and with the words from Psalm 23:7 (Psalm 24 in English bibles)
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
The faithful now re-enter the church now brightly lit singing the Paschal Troparian
Christ is risen from the dead,
trampling down death by death,
and upon those in the tombs
Paschal Matins concludes with a reading of the St John Chrysostom's Paschal Homily and is immediately followed by the celebration of
The Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.
Pascha is a celebration to be shared with family and friends gathering together on Sunday to enjoy a festal meal and celebrate Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ's glorious Resurrection.
Read the Paschal Homily of St John Chrysostom