Holy Week and Pascha are definitely the most amazing and wonderful jewels of the Orthodox Christian Church. Holy Week and Pascha are not only incredible but also personal leaving me crying of sorrow and of joy of Christ’s resurrection. Christ died on the cross only because of our sins. He loves us. Only a person that truly loves us would die for us.
Now, let me explain what is so beautiful about Holy Week and Pascha. First, Palm Sunday: The Lord rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, where the people praised and glorified him. Then, Holy Monday: The Bridegroom Matins service foretells of the future sufferings of Jesus Christ. Holy Tuesday: The last musical Presanctified Liturgy, in which the Holy Communion(Eucharist) is pre-sanctified. There is harmonious music in the service like “Let my prayer arise…“. Holy Wednesday: Holy Unction is the service in which Orthodox Christians receive holy oil to heal us physically and spiritually.
Holy Thursday: In the Holy Thursday service, the priest (representing Simon of Cyrene, the man who carried Jesus’s cross) carries the cross around the church while the choir sings “Today he who hung upon the tree…“. This part always makes me cry feeling guilty
for all the sins I have committed.(In the Orthodox Church we celebrate the feasts beforehand unless it is liturgy or vespers). Holy and Great (Good) Friday: The day Jesus died. I am in church almost all day listening to the melodious Lamentations. Holy Saturday: Little Pascha Liturgy. This service is a little foretaste of the glorious Pascha. In the middle of the service all the purple coverings and vestments are changed to white!
Finally, the Great and Holy Pascha!!! On Holy Saturday, I go to sleep as early as possible. The next thing I know, I hear my dad calling at the top of his lungs “Jesus rose from the dead, now get out of bed!” I leapt out of bed and looked at the clock, it is 11:00pm. Then, I feel the butterflies of excitement trying to get out of my chest. I quickly get dressed and run downstairs. Okay, I didn’t literally run downstairs, I was too tired to do that. Our whole family climbs into the car and we drive to church. We walk inside right as the lights are turning off. Then, at midnight, the priest comes out with a candle to light everyone elses’ candles. Then, almost everyone in the church goes outside for a procession around to church. When we try to come in we are stopped by the a person playing to devil. The priest pounds on the door saying “Lift up ye gates…”(video below). At the end of the pounding of the door the devil gives way and the doors to the church open. (This represents how Christ stormed into Hades after his Resurrection.) Inside we sing the Paschal troparion. Then, we finish the rest of the service singing Paschal hymns. Come experience this Paschal magic in an Orthodox church near you!