New Announcements 2017
PASCHA. RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD: APRIL 16, 2017
Christ is risen from the dead, trampling Death by death, and to those in the tomb, He hath granted Life.
Kontakion, Tone 8:
Though Thou didst descend into the grave, О Deathless One, yet Thou didst annihilate the power of Hell, and didst rise again as Conqueror, О Christ-God, announcing unto the myrrh-bearing women: Rejoice! and giving peace unto Thine Apostles, and bestowing Resurrection upon the fallen.
The word «Pascha» in Hebrew means «passing over, deliverance». The Hebrews, celebrating the Old-Testament Passover, commemorated the miraculous exodus of the Jews out of Egypt, when they crossed the parted Red Sea being led by their great Prophet, the God-beholder Moses. They left the land of slavery, Egypt, to enter into the Promised Land.
Christians, celebrating the New Testament Pascha, exult in the deliverance through Christ of all the people from slavery to the devil and in the granting of Life and everlasting bliss. As sung in the canons: «From death to Life and from the earth to the Heavens hath Christ God brought us».
Pascha is the essence of our faith: for Christ rose from the dead, and we will rise from the dead. Therefore Pascha is the Feast of feasts and the Triumph of triumphs, and therefore the services of this Feast are exceptionally magnificent and especially triumphant.
The Resurrection of Christ was attested to by the apostles and the blood of myriads of martyrs. The spiritual joy of Pascha is expressed in the victorious hymn: «Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down Death by death, and upon those in the tomb bestowing life», and is felt by the heart of each believer.
On Friday in the ninth hour (by contemporary calculations about three in the afternoon) Christ Who was crucified on the Cross, gave up His Spirit to God the Father. Only His young disciple John, the Mother of God and several other women followers stood by the Cross weeping at His suffering - all the others ran away in fear a long while back.
Upon the death of Christ «when it was evening, a rich man from Arimathea arrived; his name was Joseph, and he was also was a disciple of Jesus. He went into the presence of Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate gave orders for the body to be given to Joseph. So Joseph took it, wrapped it in a new linen sheet, and placed it in his own grave, which he had just recently dug out of the rock. Then he rolled a large stone across the entrance to the grave and went away. On the next day - that is the day following Friday - the chief priests and the Pharisees met with Pilate and said: Sir, we remember that while that liar was still alive he said«I will be raised to life after three days». Give orders, then, for the grave to be safely guarded until the third day, so that his disciples will not be able to go and steal him, and then tell the people «He was raised from death». This last lie would be even worse than the first one. «Take a guard» Pilate told them; «go and guard the grave as best you can». So they left, and made the grave secure by putting a seal on the stone and leaving the guard on watch. (Matt.27: 57-66).
After midnight from Saturday to the next day after it (now known as Sunday) the greatest and most joyous event in the whole world occurred: the guard was standing at the grave, the large stone with the seal was intact; suddenly the earth shook and our Lord Jesus Christ by the power of His Divinity resurrected from the dead and left the tomb. Soon after this an angel came down from Heaven and rolled away the stone from the entrance to the tomb and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightening and his clothes were white as snow. The soldiers guarding the grave fell to the ground in terror, but then got up and ran to tell the chief priests of what had
occurred. The chief priests gave the guards a large sum of money and said: «You are to say that his disciples came during the night and stole his body while you were asleep. And if the Governor should hear of this, we will convince him and you will have nothing to worry about». The guards took the money and did what they were told to do. To this very day that is the report spread around by the Jews. (Matt. 28:13-15).
Meanwhile, in the early morning, while it was still dark, several pious women were hurrying to the tomb to anoint the body of Christ with aromatic myrrh. They were not aware of the great event that had taken place, nor even of the seal of the Sanhedrin or of the guards. Their worry was about who would roll away the heavy stone from the grave. Mary Magdalene, being ahead of the rest, reached the grave first and seeing the stone rolled away ran to Peter and John saying: «They have taken the Lord from the tomb and we do not know where they have put Him». Hearing this, Peter and John immediately ran to the grave with Mary Magdalene. The rest of the myrrh-bearing women came to the grave and saw that the stone had been rolled away. So they went in; but they did not find the body of the Ixird Jesus. They stood there uncertain about this, when suddenly two men in bright shining clothes stood by them: Full of fear, the women bowed down to the ground, as the men said to them: «Why are you looking among the dead for One Who is alive? He is not here; He has risen. Remember what He has said to you while He was in Galilee: the Son of Man must be handed over to sinful men, be nailed to the cross and be raised to life on the third day». Then the women remembered His words, returned from the grave, and told all these things to the eleven disciples and all the rest. (Lk.24: 3-9)
Troparion, Tone 4:
Today is the beginning of our salvation and the manifestation of the mystery which is from eternity: the Son of God becometh the Son of a Virgin, and Gabriel announceth the glad tidings of grace. Wherefore let us also cry out with him unto the Birth-giver of God: Hail, Thou that art full of grace, the Lord is with Thee.
Kontakion, Tone 8:
We Thy servants, in that we have been delivered from calamities, do offer unto Thee, О Birth-giver of God, Who as victorious Chieftan warrest for us, songs of triumph and thanksgiving: Do thou also, in that Thou hast might invincible, free us from all assaults, that we may cry unto Thee: Hail, О Bride unwedded!
When Mary became of age, according to Hebrew custom of the time, she could no longer stay at the Temple, but had to be either returned to her parents or marry. Since Joachim and Anna had died, and Mary had proclaimed her vow of celibacy to the High Priest, it was decided to betroth her to an elderly distant relative to protect and care for her. She, therefore, went to live in Nazareth with the elderly Joseph, who was a carpenter. Here, according to tradition, while Mary was reading from the prophet Isaiah about the birth of the Messiah to a virgin, the angel Gabriel appeared to her.
«And the angel came in unto her and said: Rejoice, thou that are highly favored, the Lord is with Thee; blessed art thou among women. She was troubled by this greeting, ....and the angel said unto her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy 1womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His Kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, how shall this be, seeing that I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her: the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God and Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her». (Luke 1: 28-38)
In the Russian language this holy day is called Blagovescheniye - «the announcement of glad tidings», because this was the first time that the glad tidings of the coming of the Saviour were proclaimed to the world.
Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem: April 9, 2017
Troparion, Tone 1:
Giving assurance of the general resurrection before Thy Passion, Thou, О Christ our God, didst raise Lazarus from the dead. Wherefore we also, like unto the children, bearing the symbols of victory, cry out unto Thee, the Conqueror of Death: Hosanna in the highest, Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.
Kontakion, Tone 6:
On a throne in heaven, borne on a foal upon the earth, О Christ-God, Thou didst accept the praise of the Angels, and the hymn of the children that cried unto Thee: Blessed art Thou that comest to recall Adam.
On the last Sunday of the Great Lent, the Church remembers the triumphant entrance of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. On the day before, on Saturday, is the rememberance of the great miracle which had been wrought not long before in Bethany - the resurrection of Lazarus, who had been dead and buried four days in his tomb. Many of the people, having witnessed this miracle, believed in Christ and were awaiting His coming into Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees wanted to have Jesus killed because they envied Him, and so they gave an order to be told when Jesus would come into Jerusalem.
The time of Christ4 s suffering was nearing. Six days before Passover, when Mary, the sister of the resurrected Lazarus, poured expensive myrrh on the feet of Jesus, some of the disciples were displeased at such waste, thinking that the money from the sale of the myrrh could have been used to help the poor. Knowing what lay in store for Him in Jerusalem, Christ told His disciples that with this anointment His body was being prepared for burial. He also spoke at great length about the suffering that was drawing near for Him. Finally Jesus gathered His disciples to go to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.
As He was nearing Jerusalem, Jesus Christ sent two of His disciples ahead instructing them: «Go to the village ahead of you; there you will find a donkey and a colt, on which no man has yet sat upon; untie them and bring them here. And if anyone says anything to you, answer that it is required by the Lord.».The disciples went and did as theywere told. They covered the young donkey with their cloaks and Jesus sat upon the donkey. Coming near Jerusalem, Jesus wept over the city that was doomed to be destroyed for not accepting its salvation.
Many in Jerusalem found out that Jesus, the Resurrector of Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, was approaching. Many of the people who came here for the feast, came out to meet Him and taking off their outer garments spread them on the ground before Him; others cut palm leaves and held them in their hands and threw them in His path. And all the people who were following Him and those that came to meet Him exclaimed: «Hosana, blessed be He, Who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel.»
When Jesus entered Jerusalem the whole city was thrown into commotion, and those who did not know of Him asked: «Who is Не?» And the people answered: this is Jesus, a prophet from Nazareth of Galilee. Upon entering the temple, Christ once again, just like in the first year of His teaching, drove out those that bought and sold there, saying «it is written in the Scriptures: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the people. But you have made it into a den for thieves.»
The blind and the crippled surrounded Him in the temple and He healed them. The chief priests and the teachers of the Law, seeing these miracles that He wrought, and seeing the children shouting in the temple: Hosana to the son of David! became angry and said to Him: do You hear what they are saying? And Jesus answered: Yes, have you not read: Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
In the next days Jesus Christ taught in the temple, and the nights He spent outside the city. The chief priests, the teachers of the Law, and the elders of the people looked for an opportunity to kill Him but could not because all the people were around Him listening to His teachings.