Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
his soj
ourn in Northern Ireland'

Pascha, beautiful Pascha


Jon Kennedy  

JONAL ENTRY 1286 | May 4 2013

. . . the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead. . ."

— from Matthew 28,
from today's Holy Saturday
Orthodox lectionary readings

Diary: It's Pascha, Orthodox "Easter," and this is the first Pascha since my conversion 19 years ago last Christmas that I have not only celebrated in my San Jose parish, but the only one which I have not attended the pascha midnight liturgy, which begins at 10 p.m. in San Jose and 10:45 here in Belfast. As I am not driving here, I have decided not to walk the half hour trek to the church at that hour, and return home around 2 a.m.

I have been warned not to make that walk after dark and I have already had a stone thrown at me on one of my walks back home after church. It hit the vehicle next to me about a foot from my head, and I can only hope that whoever threw it meant it to miss, rather than that he was just a poor shot. The route between our house on Crumlin Road and the church goes directly through a "peace fence" with a "no man's land" between two sections of fence separated far enough that most people wouldn't be able to throw stones well enough to hit others on the other side. There are burned-out residences on both sides of the fence.

Above is a photo of the meeting place of my current Orthodox parish, St. Ignatius in Belfast, as seen from the back, on Cliftonville Road. The parish is leasing a former Church of Ireland (Anglican) church (St. James'), which resembles a small cathedral inside. The Orthodox attending seldom exceed three dozen for a Sunday liturgy. Belfast has many large old churches that have not many more attending regularly than that, and the Orthodox parish is only about a decade old. Part of the Antiochian European archdiocese, and established by Irish converts from Protestant and Catholic backgrounds, it serves Orthodox of all jurisdictions who are living in the Northern Ireland capital city.

Maybe I'm a coward. But at least I has able to attend a vesperal divine liturgy on this Holy Saturday. Though it did not include the candlighting ceremony and the rush procession of the midnight liturgy, its Gospel reading was on the resurrection and the eucharist was celebrated.

Below are two short videos that capture highlights of the pascha services as they are celebrated in my California parish, though both of these videos, embedded from YouTube, are from other congregations.

The first video begins with the dramatic candle lighting in a totally darkened church and traces highlights of the entire Pascha worship cycle. It also includes the English translation of the fourth-century Pascha sermon preached by St. John Chrysostom, which is read every Pascha in Orthodox churches around the world.

The second video, showing the entrance into the temple after the candlelight procession, is from a Greek church. And though more Greek is used than our church uses, the dramatic exchange that opens the gates of the church and the melody of the hymn sung are the same (and the hymn is sung a second time in English after a first rendering in Greek).

Scripture: Though Christ's victory over death was won only by way of the Cross, the church does not dwell for long on the death, the victory is so much more vital and overshadowing.

§     §     §

Please support my mission to Northern Ireland in your prayers. You can read my overview of this undertaking here. My residence/postal address is 227 Crumlin Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT14 7DY, UK. Mobile: 07772197118.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

 

related pages

The Nanty Glo Home Page

Previous blog:
An education conclave and a tour of a historic monastic site in County Down

Report on latest NTAMHS Meeting

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