Saturday, May 2, 2020

Pascha in Pandemic

A few years ago I made a painting of Pascha at St. John, which is a big, beautiful church in Memphis, TN.  So, anyway, I'm coping and painting now. This is Pascha this year, in a small, beautiful church in our house. (Also featuring our small St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Jackson, TN on the laptop screen.)

You can order prints of Pascha in Pandemic here, or Pascha at St. John here. See photos from our Holy Week at home here.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Paschal Stichera

Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered. Let those who hate Him flee from before His face.

Today, a sacred Pascha is revealed to us,
A new and holy Pascha,
A mystical Pascha,
A Pascha worthy of veneration,
A Pascha which is Christ the Redeemer,
A blameless Pascha,
A great Pascha,
A Pascha of the faithful,
A Pascha which has opened for us the gates of Paradise,
A Pascha which sanctifies all the faithful.

As smoke vanishes so let them vanish. As wax melts before the fire.

Come from that scene, 0 women, bearers of glad tidings,
And say to Zion:
Receive from us the glad tidings of joy, of Christ's resurrection.
Exult and be glad,
And rejoice, 0 Jerusalem,
Seeing Christ the King,
Who comes forth from the tomb like a bridegroom in procession.

So the sinners will perish before the face of God. But let the righteous be glad.

The myrrhbearing women,
At the break of dawn,
Drew near to the tomb of the Life-giver.
There they found an angel sitting upon the stone.
He greeted them with these words:
Why do you seek the living among the dead?
Why do you mourn the incorrupt amid corruption?
Go, proclaim the glad tidings to His disciples.

This is the day which the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Pascha of beauty,
The Pascha of the Lord,
A Pascha worthy of all honor has dawned for us,
Let us embrace each other joyously. O Pascha, ransom from affliction! For today as from a bridal chamber Christ has shown forth from the tomb and filled the women with joy saying:
Proclaim the glad tidings to the apostles.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

This is the day of resurrection. Let us be illumined by the feast. Let us embrace each other. Let us call "brothers" even those that hate us, and forgive all by the resurrection, and so let us cry:

Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Holy Week at Home

Holy Week at home with my family was intensely beautiful and difficult - much as it always is - but also not at all like always.

It was hard to stand in our living room next to the couch. Still, the children were able to ask about the scriptures and hymns and icons throughout the service, and actually get answers in real time. My older kids haven't colored in church in many years, but this year they carefully and attentively colored a different icon each day.

Many services felt weird and anti-climactic without the sacraments. Yet, my girls led the processions, lit the 12 candles, read the scriptures, chanted the hymns, and blessed the baskets - things they usually watch others do. So there was a different kind of participation.

We missed our picnics, singing, and meals with friends. But the children took active part in making sure we had a cross for Holy Thursday, they hunted flowers and insisted on making a bier, and they helped prepare our Paschal feast.

Someone commented on one of my pictures that my home looked cozy. I saw my re-arranged living room and, before I realized what I was saying, I laughingly replied, "it has transformed into a little church this week." It's true in the way I meant it - we moved chairs to make the prayer corner larger, and had stacks of bibles, service books, and music ready; oil and candles on stand by; a space made for our antidoron-like-bread and holy water; and an analogion set up for the festal icons. But it was also true in the accidental way that caught my breath when I saw it. We prayed together, liturgized together, suffered and served together in our home this week. My children received more of my attention this week than most regular Holy Weeks. We mourned the crucifixion and celebrated the resurrection in faith as a family.

This quarantined Holy Week revealed how much communion is part of the church, how much we need it, we need each other. But it also revealed God is with us in our most difficult moments, he is glorified in our must humble offerings. Christ is risen from the dead, and all we have to do is show up and celebrate it.

Anyway, this is the post with the pictures to remember it all.

Lazarus Saturday

Lazarus Saturday/Palm Sunday Door Decorations

Lazarus Saturday festivities


Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday Liturgy with Fern-Palms

Palm Sunday Liturgy, with a lucky find of a Lazarus Saturday paper icon and last year's crosses

Holy Monday
Bridegroom Icon with ferm-palms and daffodil-crosses

Holy Tuesday

The transformation of our living room, amid zoom ballet class and services

Holy Wednesday

No unction service this year, but we read some of the readings from the service
and anointed one another from our vigil lamp.

Holy Thursday

coloring icons for the Mystical Supper during the morning Liturgy

dyeing eggs and making butter lambs on Holy Thursday afternoon

Coloring the crucifixion as we listen to the Gospels and light the candles. Some of us were more still than others...

Reading the Gospels

Holy Friday

Cardboard bier ready

flowers gathered

Epitaphios colored during Royal Hours
Holy Friday procession

entering under the bier
Myrrh the children sprinkled

Every generation to thy grace comes bringing, dear Christ, its dirge of praise.

Parish vigil at the tomb on Zoom

Holy Saturday
Dogwood leaves and petals of victory for Holy Saturday

we had a little more fun with the leaves than usual


Come receive the light
processing outside the door (with the window open so we can still hear the livestream)

knocking on the door

Christ is risen!

the dog is confused why we're shouting?

Giddy children settle on the couch for the Liturgy

the little one is already asleep

the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom

Blessing the baskets with the priest

the analogion

the midnight feast, not everyone is awake.

long awaited ice cream

Bright Week

beautiful cards from missed church friends adorn our festal table

it doesn't stay pretty for long

Egg hunt later in the sun

Friday, April 10, 2020

Scriptures of Holy Week for Reading at Home

We're all preparing to make the best of Holy Week at Home. May it be blessed! 

I am so grateful for this lovely resource for families from the Assembly of Bishops, and below is my contribution of a supplemental listing of the Scriptures for the services of Holy Week (and I couldn't resist putting in some hymns, too). Or a single page without the hymns below tha. This could be beneficial for reading with families or quietly alone.

Christ is in our midst, even in quarantine!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Holy Week Resources

I assembled a bunch of my Holy Week printables in one place. I appreciate Elissa Bjeletich's suggestions for celebrating this year on Raising Saints. We will be reading, singing, flowering, and processing as much as we can from home. Blessed Holy Week at home, dear ones!

Printable Pascha Cards for mailing to friends and family: