The Russian people celebrate Easter as
they have in the past. Notwithstanding the many years of sermons about not
believing, thousands of people gather on the night of Christ’s Resurrection in
Orthodox churches, tens of thousands bless the Easter food. Russian hearts
respond to the colossal charge of joy, renewal, enlightenment, which this
greatest of all Orthodox holidays carries in itself.
But for the majority, right after the first day of Easter, common weekdays
commence, and the festivity is over. But in actuality the Holiday
lasts much longer, for the Easter joy is so great that it is impossible to
limit it to one day!
The Lord remained on Earth after His resurrection
exactly 40 days. During this time, the services of the Orthodox Church return
us to the night of Holy Easter. "Christ is risen!"
— we greet each other and kiss thrice. Especially
festive, joyful and majestic is the first week (Church Slavonic
"sedmitsa," or seven days) following Easter, which is called Bright.
On Bright Week "all and all" — is
Christ, Christ the resurrected. The fast, the time for crying and sorrowing, is
over, the entire world is singing and glorifying the
Lord. Each day in the morning, upon the conclusion of the liturgy, there is a
procession, symbolizing the going of the women myrrh-bearers to the grave of
Christ. The praying walk in the procession with lit candles.
All the services of Bright Week are served with
open Royal doors, so that any one of us can see the church ritual in full
detail. Open Royal doors symbolize the Lord’s grave, from which the Angel
rolled the stone away. On this week there is no fast on Wednesday or Friday,
but it is necessary to avoid overeating, which is so easy to do after the long
On Friday of Bright Week is the commemoration of
the icon of the Mother of God "The Life-Giving Font," and water is
blessed after the liturgy. On the next day, on Great Saturday, the faithful are
given pieces of the artos. There are no marriages or prayers for repose
(panihidas) on Bright Week. Funeral services are performed, but more than half
of the service consists of Easter chants.
The Resurrection of Christ — is the cornerstone
of the Orthodox faith. The Apostle Paul teaches: "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also
vain" (1 Cor. 15:14). The joy
of the Easter night — is a breach into the Heavenly
Kingdom, the beginning of the
endless joy of Heaven. How happy were the saints, such as the Ven. Seraphim of
Sarov, who became worthy of continually having the memory of the Resurrection
in his soul, and who met every person coming to him with the words: "My
joy! Christ is risen!"
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