27 April 2008

Paschal Joy, part 2

Well, actually--part 2.5.

This photo was taken about 3 am this morning. What gets so many people up in the middle of the night, you ask?

We were celebrating the joy of Christ's holy resurrection! Our service began about 10:30 pm. After some beginning prayers, the priest takes the paschal candle and comes to the holy doors (the central doors on the icon screen) and sings, "Come receive light from the Light that is never overtaken by night. Come glorify Christ, who is risen from the dead." The people light their candles from the priest's. Then we have a great procession around the building, singing of Christ's resurrection. Somewhere around 2:30 am, having received the Eucharistic mystery, the parish gathers for a feast. When all was done last night, we got home--about 4:15 this morning.

This Pascha is all the more precious to me, since I lost my father just before Lent began. How precious were these words of the Paschal homily of St. John Chrysostom this year:

Let no one bewail his poverty,
For the universal Kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities,
For pardon has shown forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death,
For the Saviour's death has set us free.
He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.
By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry:
Hell, said he, was embittered
When it encountered Thee in the lower regions.
It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain.
It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.
It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.
O Death, where is thy sting?O Hell, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead,
Is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be glory and dominion
Unto ages of ages.
Posted by Picasa


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

That Greek word epichranthi, usually translated "embittered," really has no GOOD translation. But it refers to your mouth puckering and/or your gagging when you swallow a big mouthful of something very bitter. It could almost (but not quite) be translated, "Hades was poisoned."

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

My Lampe (Patristic Gk Lexicon) lists "exasperated" as another translation. (I think the root word is pikraino.)

Fr. G.

orrologion said...

Do the congregations in your churches echo back the "it was embittered" on the homily? The OCA Cathedral does and it is so earth shattering and joyful to shout back as a crowd, but the Greek church I go to in PA does not do this as neither did an OCA mission founded by an Arab-American priest. Is it just a Great Russian thing, a Carpatho or Romanian thing?

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Ours does not--nor does our mother parish. It must be a Russian thing...

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Every greek church I've ever been in does it.

And here, we shout back, "RISEN!" too, right afterwards.

Ignatius said...

Greetings in the risen Christ,

The Greek parish I belong to does shout "it was embittered". However, I have a renewed appreciation for it in using epichranthi. It is all the more important to understand this when we say we are baptised into Christ and partake of His very body and blood. Hence the importance of these words "He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him". So if we are and He is, Hell can not swollow us up, knowing it will only vomit us out.