Friday, May 30, 2014

Tis the Season... Letting Go of Pascha

Every Sunday is a celebration of our Lord's Resurrection.  During the Paschal Season, 39 days after Easter, there were a few things we did differently during Liturgy to celebrate the season.  Now that Ascension has come, those things are no longer done.  Have you noticed?  Will you see the changes?  Do you know what to look for when you go to church on Sunday to know that the Paschal Season is over? 

First you will notice that we no longer say or sing "Christ is risen."  This hymn and greeting are reserved for the Paschal Season; and I understand is also sung during funerals for monastics.  You probably stopped saying it weeks ago.  It can seem a little forced outside of the actual celebration of Easter, but you will notice it is no longer sung during Liturgies until next year.  I miss it already. 

The icon of Christ is hanging on the cross in the altar.   On Holy Friday when we were participating in the service where Christ is removed from the cross as part of the Gospel reading, the priest carried the icon of Christ into the altar (tomb) wrapped in a white sheet.  Later the cross was returned to its regular place behind the altar table and was left bare, that is until Ascension (yesterday.)

Following the consecration of the Gifts, we will return (I think) to singing the hymn, "Truly is it Meet." to the Theotokos.  During the Paschal Season we sang "The Angel Cried Out..." (that your Son is risen from the tomb.)

A few more things you might notice:  the priest's vestments will no longer be white (or red) and the Resurrection banner should be put away.  Just more signs that the Paschal season is over and it's time to move on to the next Feast... Ascension and then Pentecost*.  

Kontakion for Ascension,
in the Plagal of the Second Tone 
O Christ our God, upon fulfilling Your dispensation for our sake, You ascended in Glory, uniting the earthly with the heavenly. You were never separate but remained inseparable, and cried out to those who love You, "I am with you and no one is against you." 

* Although we stopped kneeling during the consecration of the Gifts, we will continue to stand until the Kneeling Prayers with Pentecost, June 8th. 

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