Living at the Intersection of Grace, Grits and the Ancient Faith...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Byzantine Services for Holy Saturday and for the Feast of the Resurrection

These two videos are from one of the bright lights of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, St. Elias Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Brampton, Ontario.

The first video is footage from "Jerusalem Matins" on Holy Saturday, the Great Sabbath rest when our Lord, while His holy Body was in the tomb covered by the shoud, entered with His soul into the Bosom of Abraham, Sheol, or in Greek, Hades, the dwelling of the righteous dead to announce the Gospel and to set our ancestors free in order to bring them into the glory of heaven.

Great and Holy Saturday at St. Elias

Some of the hymns of Holy Saturday are:

Hymns from the Anoi 
"Come, let us see our Life lying in the tomb, that He may give life to those that in their tombs lie dead. Come, let us look today on the Son of Judah as He sleeps, and with the prophet let us cry aloud to Him: Thou hast lain down, Thou hast slept as a lion; who shall awaken Thee, O King? But of Thine own free will do Thou rise up, who willingly dost give Thyself for us. O Lord, glory to Thee."
"Today a tomb holds Him who holds the creation in the hollow of His hand; a stone covers Him who covered the heavens with glory. Life sleeps and hell trembles, and Adam is set free from his bonds. Glory to Thy dispensation, whereby Thou hast accomplished all things, granting us an eternal Sabbath, Thy most holy Resurrection from the dead." 

The great Fr. Alexander Schmemann wrote a wonderful description of Great and Holy Saturday in his homily here... Great and Holy Saturday Homily
In it, he also describes the icon of Holy Saturday, Christ's Descent into Hades, where we see Him victorious over death and grabbing the wrists of Adam and Eve to raise them (and the other righteous dead) to glory.

While this icon is often referred to as the Icon of Pascha (Resurrection) in truth there is no liturgical icon of the great mystery of Christ's rising from the tomb, save for that miraculous icon "not made by human hands," which is His burial shroud known today as the Shroud of Turin

The second video 
provides images and sounds of the many beautiful celebrations of Pascha, the Feast of Christ's Resurrection, with periodic acclamations of the Paschal Greeting exchanged by Eastern Christians: 

Христос воскрес! Воістину воскрес! 
Chrystos voskres! Voistynu voskres! 
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

Our liturgy reflects the great joy of Christ's Pascha, His Resurrection from the Dead, after so long a period of fasting and penance and the solemnity of Great and Holy Week. After services, traditional Pascha Baskets are blessed, filled with wonderful meats and cheeses and breads since in the Paschal period, our mourning and fasting has been turned to joy and feasting in the New Creation brought about by Christ!

Pascha Services at St. Elias

I pray that all of you have a blessed Great and Holy Saturday as well as a blessed and holy Pascha...