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Last Sunday began the three week-long Pre-Lenten period, where Christians consider the issue of repentance before beginning the rigourous fasting season of Great Lent. Last Sunday was designated as the Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican, referring to one of Christ’s better-known Parables on the importance of knowing oneself, humility and repentance. This week is designated as the Week of the Pharisee and the Publican, and next week follows the Week of the Prodigal Son (another parable concerning repentance and forgiveness).

Luke 18:10-14 provides the parable, where two men, one from the Pharisee sect (known for their strict adherence to the Law) and the other a Publican (a Jew in the service of the Roman Empire as a tax collector, widely despised by Jewish society as collaborators and thugs, and considered ritually unclean) enter the Temple. The Pharisee, while praying, proudly tells God he is so happy that he is virtuous, and does not conduct himself like adulterers, extortionists or tax collectors, and that he engages in many good works. The Publican, in grief over his wicked past,  begs God to forgive him and acknowledges himself as a sinner. Christ concludes that it was the Publican who returned home justified and forgiven, not the Pharisee, and He states, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (v. 14).

A Greek word “metanoia” is frequently used when discussing repentance in this context. It means “change of mind” and conveys a deeper meaning of repentance than just self-pity, dissatisfaction or regret over past actions. It is an active process rather than a passive mood, involving transformation of one’s viewpoint and a re-appraisal of how we interact with God and with others. The Pharisee in this parable is self-satisfied, complacent and believes that his adherence to the Law and his good works are enough to maintain a solid relationship with God. The Publican truly seeks a “change of mind”, not only regretting his misdeeds but humbling himself before God and resolving to improve his conduct; through God’s mercy rather than only his own works he will be forgiven and hence saved.

In our own church, we may meet people who resemble the Pharisee, who are unjustifiably proud of their piety and look down on overt sinners, are unkind to people of other religions or harsh to people of other races. It has ever been so, such is the nature of human frailty. We may also encounter people like the Publican, who have made serious errors in their lives, are frequently held in contempt for it, and humbly seek to transform their lives through Christ. Recapitulation of this parable before our eyes on a weekly basis should not make us cynical about the devout, but remind us that Christ’s parables are timeless and the struggle with pride goes on relentlessly in every human heart, even in people who are basically decent.

The icon for this feast is full of significance, and an explanation of the didactic (teaching) icon above is well covered here.

The ever-eloquent Saint John Chrysostom discusses this feast in great detail;

“When lately we made mention of the Pharisee and the Publican, and hypothetically yoked two chariots out of virtue and vice; we pointed out each truth, how great is the gain of humbleness of mind, and how great the damage of pride. For this, even when conjoined with righteousness and fastings and tithes, fell behind; while that, even when yoked with sin, out-stripped the Pharisee’s pair, even although the charioteer it had was a poor one. For what was worse than the publican? But all the same since he made his soul contrite, and called himself a sinner; which indeed he was; he surpassed the Pharisee, who had both fastings to tell of and tithes; and was removed from any vice. On account of what, and through what? Because even if he was removed from greed of gain and robbery, he had rooted over his soul the mother of all evils— vain-glory and pride. On this account Paul also exhorts and says “Let each one prove his own work”; and then he will have his ground of boasting for himself, and not for the other. He publicly came forward as an accuser of the whole world; and said that he himself was better than all living men. And yet even if he had set himself before ten only, or if five, or if two, or if one, not even was this endurable; but as it was, he not only set himself before the whole world, but also accused all men. On this account he fell behind in the running. And just as a ship, after having run through innumerable surges, and having escaped many storms, then in the very mouth of the harbour having been dashed against some rock, loses the whole treasure which is stowed away in her— so truly did this Pharisee, after having undergone the labours of the fasting, and of all the rest of his virtue, since he did not master his tongue, in the very harbour underwent shipwreck of his cargo. For the going home from prayer, whence he ought to have derived gain, having rather been so greatly damaged, is nothing else than undergoing shipwreck in harbour.

Knowing therefore these things, beloved even if we should have mounted to the very pinnacle of virtue, let us consider ourselves last of all; having learned that pride is able to cast down even from the heavens themselves him who takes not heed, and humbleness of mind to bear up on high from the very abyss of sins him who knows how to be sober. For this it was that placed the publican before the Pharisee; whereas that, pride I mean and an overweening spirit, surpassed even an incorporeal power, that of the devil; while humbleness of mind and the acknowledgment of his own sins committed brought the robber into Paradise before the Apostles. Now if the confidence which they who confess their own sins effect for themselves is so great, they who are conscious to themselves of many good qualities, yet humble their own souls, how great crowns will they not win. For when sinfulness be put together with humbleness of mind it runs with such ease as to pass and out-strip righteousness combined with pride. If therefore thou have put it to with righteousness, whither will it not reach? Through how many heavens will it not pass? By the throne of God itself surely it will stay its course; in the midst of the angels, with much confidence. On the other hand if pride, having been yoked with righteousness, by the excess and weight of its own wickedness had strength enough to drag down its confidence; if it be put together with sinfulness, into how deep a hell will it not be able to precipitate him who has it? These things I say, not in order that we should be careless of righteousness, but that we should avoid pride; not that we should sin, but that we should be sober-minded. For humbleness of mind is the foundation of the love of wisdom which pertains to us. Even if you should have built a superstructure of things innumerable; even if almsgiving, even if prayers, even if fastings, even if all virtue; unless this have first been laid as a foundation, all will be built upon it to no purpose and in vain; and it will fall down easily, like that building which had been placed on the sand. For there is no one, no one of our good deeds, which does not need this; there is no one which separate from this will be able to stand. But even if you should mention temperance, even if virginity, even if despising of money, even if anything whatever, all are unclean and accursed and loathsome, humbleness of mind being absent. Everywhere therefore let us take her with us, in words, in deeds, in thoughts, and with this let us build these (graces).”

 

 

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Tomorrow marks the Feast of Theophany (or Epiphany as it is known in the West), when we commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ by Saint John the Forerunner.

Theophany

The well-known 20th century Orthodox theologian, Father Sergei Bulgakov, very ably described this feast in his book ” Handbook for Church Servers”, 2nd ed

Theophany is understood as a feast in which the event of the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan1 is commemorated and glorified (Mt. 3:13-17. Mk. 1:9-11. Lk. 3:21-22). This feast is called Theophany because during the baptism of the Lord the Divine All-Holy Trinity was revealed: God the Father spoke from heaven about the Son, the Son of God was baptized by John and was witnessed by God the Father, and the Holy Spirit descended on the Son in the form of a dove. This explanation of the feast is given by the Holy Church in its Troparion: “When Thou, O Lord, was baptized in the Jordan….”

Since ancient times this feast also was known as the day of illumination and the feast of lights, because God is the Light and reveals Himself to illumine “those who sat in darkness and the shadow of death” (Mt. 4:16) and to save according to grace, Who has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior” (2 Tim. 1:9-10), and because on the Eve of Theophany it was the custom to baptize the catechumens, which actually is spiritual illumination and during which many lamps are lit. Besides this, the ancient Church on this day also remembered other events in which the divine worthiness and representation of Jesus Christ was expressed both during His birth, and during His introduction to preach in public after baptism, namely: 1) the worship of the magi as a revelation of Jesus Christ to the pagan world by means of a wonderful star;4 from this commemoration the very feast of Epiphany in the Western Church received the name of the Feast of the Three Kings (Festum trium regum); in the Eastern Church though it was part of the feast, it was not expressed in the character of the feast; 2) The manifestation of the divine power of Jesus Christ in His first miracle at the marriage in Cana of Galilee when the Lord “created the beginning of signs”; and 3) (in the African Church) the appearance of the divine power in Jesus Christ in the wonderful feeding of the more than 5000 persons by Him with five breads in the desert, from which even the feast is called the Phagiphania. 
 
The beginning of the feast of Theophany arose in apostolic times. It is mentioned in the Apostolic Constitutions and in the 2nd century the witness of Clement of Alexandria about the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord and doing the night vigil spent reading Holy Scripture before this feast; in the 3rd century the Holy Martyr Hippolytus and Gregory of Neocaesarea; in the 4th century the Holy Fathers of the Church: Gregory the Theologian, Ambrose of Milan, John Chrysostom, Augustine and many others talked about the event of Holy Theophany during the divine service for this feast; the Fathers of the Church of the 5th century: Anatolius of Constantinople; of the 7th century: Andrew and Sophronius of Jerusalem; of the 8th century: Cosmas of Maium, John of Damascus and Germanus of Constantinople; of the 9th century, Joseph the Studite, Theophanes and Byzas deposited many church hymns for this feast, that up to now are sung by the Church.
 
The Lord, according to the teaching of St. John of Damascus, was baptized not because He Himself needed cleansing, but rather, having taken our cleansing upon Himself, to destroy the heads of the serpents in the water, “to bury human sin through water” and all of the old Adam, to fulfill the law, to reveal the mystery of the Trinity and, finally, to consecrate “the essence of water” and to grant us a paradigm and an example of baptism. Therefore the Holy Church, celebrating the baptism of the Lord, confirms our faith in the highest, incomprehensible mystery of the Three Persons in one Godhead and teaches us with equal honor to profess and glorify the Holy Trinity, One in Essence and Undivided; it accuses and destroys the errors of the ancient false teachers: Patripassians or Sabellians, Arians, Macedonians and others who rejected the triunity of Persons in one Godhead, together with those false teachers who taught the human nature of the Son of God was a phantom; it shows the necessity of baptism for the believers in Christ; it inspires in us feelings of boundless gratitude to the Enlightener and the Cleanser of our sinful nature; it teaches that our purification and salvation from sin is only by the power of grace of the Holy Spirit; it specifies the necessity of the worthy use the gifts of the grace of baptism and the protection in purity of those precious garments of which we are reminded on the feast of the Baptism by the words: “As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27); and it commands us towards the purification of our souls and hearts in order to be worthy of the blessed life.

 

On January 6, after the Liturgy is finished, usually, at the springs, rivers and lakes, or ponds and wells, “The Order of the Great Sanctification of Holy Theophany”, i.e. the great sanctification of water in commemoration of the baptism of the Lord is also done the same, as in the Compline of the feast. For this sanctification of water there is a solemn procession with the cross, the Gospel, lamps and banners to the water, during the ringing of the bell and while singing the Troparion: “The voice of the Lord upon the waters…”, etc. The return procession is done while singing: “When Thou, O Lord, was baptized in the Jordan…”; at the very entrance of the temple we sing the Ideomelon: “Let us sing, O faithful”.

Unlike in the Greek and Russian traditions, Georgian Orthodox parishes do not engage in the casting and retrieval of the Cross from the waters on Theophany. Mass baptisms  are still a feature of the feast though.

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Saint John Chrysostom’s homily on the subject of Theophany is instructive;

We shall now say something about the present feast. Many celebrate the feastdays and know their designations, but the cause for which they were established they know not. Thus concerning this, that the present feast is called Theophany — everyone knows; but what this is — Theophany, and whether it be one thing or another, they know not. And this is shameful — every year to celebrate the feastday and not know its reason.

First of all therefore, it is necessary to say that there is not one Theophany, but two: the one actual, which already has occurred, and the second in future, which will happen with glory at the end of the world. About this one and about the other you will hear today from Paul, who in conversing with Titus, speaks thus about the present: “The grace of God hath revealed itself, having saved all mankind, decreeing, that we reject iniquity and worldly desires, and dwell in the present age in prudence and in righteousness and piety” — and about the future: “awaiting the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit 2:11-13). And a prophet speaks thus about this latter: “the sun shalt turn to darkness, and the moon to blood at first, then shalt come the great and illuminating Day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31). Why is not that day, on which the Lord was born, considered Theophany — but rather this day on which He was baptised? This present day it is, on which He was baptised and sanctified the nature of water. Because on this day all, having obtained the waters, do carry it home and keep it all year, since today the waters are sanctified; and an obvious phenomenon occurs: these waters in their essence do not spoil with the passage of time, but obtained today, for one whole year and often for two or three years, they remain unharmed and fresh, and afterwards for a long time do not stop being water, just as that obtained from the fountains.

Why then is this day called Theophany? Because Christ made Himself known to all — not then when He was born — but then when He was baptised. Until this time He was not known to the people. And that the people did not know Him, Who He was, listen about this to John the Baptist, who says: “Amidst you standeth, Him Whom ye know not of” (Jn.1:26). And is it surprising that others did not know Him, when even the Baptist did not know Him until that day? “And I — said he — knew Him not: but He that did send me to baptise with water, about This One did tell unto me: over Him that shalt see the Spirit descending and abiding upon Him, This One it is Who baptiseth in the Holy Spirit” (Jn. 1:33). Thus from this it is evident, that — there are two Theophanies, and why Christ comes at baptism and on whichever baptism He comes, about this it is necessary to say: it is therefore necessary to know both the one and equally the other. And first it is necessary to speak your love about the latter, so that we might learn about the former. There was a Jewish baptism, which cleansed from bodily impurities, but not to remove sins. Thus, whoever committed adultery, or decided on thievery, or who did some other kind of misdeed, it did not free him from guilt. But whoever touched the bones of the dead, whoever tasted food forbidden by the law, whoever approached from contamination, whoever consorted with lepers — that one washed, and until evening was impure, and then cleansed. “Let one wash his body in pure water — it says in the Scriptures, — and he will be unclean until evening, and then he will be clean” (Lev 15:5, 22:4). This was not truly of sins or impurities, but since the Jews lacked perfection, then God, accomplishing it by means of this greater piety, prepared them by their beginnings for a precise observance of important things.

Thus, Jewish cleansings did not free from sins, but only from bodily impurities. Not so with ours: it is far more sublime and it manifests a great grace, whereby it sets free from sin, it cleanses the spirit and bestows the gifts of the Spirit. And the baptism of John was far more sublime than the Jewish, but less so than ours: it was like a bridge between both baptisms, leading across itself from the first to the last. Wherefore John did not give guidance for observance of bodily purifications, but together with them he exhorted and advised to be converted from vice to good deeds and to trust in the hope of salvation and the accomplishing of good deeds, rather than in different washings and purifications by water. John did not say: wash your clothes, wash your body, and ye will be pure, but what? — “bear ye fruits worthy of repentance” (Mt 3:8). Since it was more than of the Jews, but less than ours: the baptism of John did not impart the Holy Spirit and it did not grant forgiveness by grace: it gave the commandment to repent, but it was powerless to absolve sins. Wherefore John did also say: “I baptise you with water…That One however will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Mt 3:11). Obviously, he did not baptise with the Spirit. But what does this mean: “with the Holy Spirit and with fire?” Call to mind that day, on which for the Apostles “there appeared disparate tongues like fire, and sat over each one of them” (Acts 2:3). And that the baptism of John did not impart the Spirit and remission of sins is evident from the following: Paul “found certain disciples, and said to them: received ye the Holy Spirit since ye have believed? They said to him: but furthermore whether it be of the Holy Spirit, we shall hear. He said to them: into what were ye baptised? They answered: into the baptism of John. Paul then said: John indeed baptised with the baptism of repentance,” — repentance, but not remission of sins; for whom did he baptise? “Having proclaimed to the people, that they should believe in the One coming after him, namely, Christ Jesus. Having heard this, they were baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus: and Paul laying his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them” (Acts 19:1-6). Do you see, how incomplete was the baptism of John? If the one were not incomplete, would then Paul have baptised them again, and placed his hands on them; having performed also the second, he shew the superiority of the apostolic Baptism and that the baptism of John was far less than his. Thus, from this we recognise the difference of the baptisms.

Now it is necessary to say, for whom was Christ baptised and by which baptism? Neither the former the Jewish, nor the last — ours. Whence hath He need for remission of sins, how is this possible for Him, Who hath not any sins? “Of sin, — it says in the Scriptures, — worked He not, nor was there deceit found in His mouth” (1 Pet 2:22); and further, “who of you convicteth Me of Sin?” (Jn 8:46). And His flesh was privy to the Holy Spirit; how might this be possible, when it in the beginning was fashioned by the Holy Spirit? And so, if His flesh was privy to the Holy Spirit, and He was not subject to sins, then for whom was He baptised? But first of all it is necessary for us to recognise, by which baptism He was baptised, and then it will be clear for us. By which baptism indeed was He baptised? — Not the Jewish, nor ours, nor John’s. For whom, since thou from thine own aspect of baptism dost perceive, that He was baptised not by reason of sin and not having need of the gift of the Spirit; therefore, as we have demonstrated, this baptism was alien to the one and to the other. Hence it is evident, that He came to Jordan not for the forgiveness of sins and not for receiving the gifts of the Spirit. But so that some from those present then should not think, that He came for repentance like others, listen to how John precluded this. What he then spoke to the others then was: “Bear ye fruits worthy of repentance”; but listen what he said to Him: “I have need to be baptised of Thee, and Thou art come to me?” (Mt 3:8, 14). With these words he demonstrated, that Christ came to him not through that need with which people came, and that He was so far from the need to be baptised for this reason — so much more sublime and perfectly purer than Baptism itself. For whom was He baptised, if this was done not for repentance, nor for the remission of sins, nor for receiving the gifts of the Spirit? Through the other two reasons, of which about the one the disciple speaks, and about the other He Himself spoke to John. Which reason of this baptism did John declare? Namely, that Christ should become known to the people, as Paul also mentions: “John therefore baptised with the baptism of repentance, so that through him they should believe on Him that cometh” (Acts 19:4); this was the consequence of the baptism. If John had gone to the home of each and, standing at the door, had spoken out for Christ and said: “He is the Son of God,” such a testimony would have been suspicious, and this deed would have been extremely perplexing. So too, if he in advocating Christ had gone into the synagogues and witnessed to Him, this testimony of his might be suspiciously fabricated. But when all the people thronged out from all the cities to Jordan and remained on the banks of the river, and when He Himself came to be baptised and received the testimony of the Father by a voice from above and by the coming-upon of the Spirit in the form of a dove, then the testimony of John about Him was made beyond all questioning. And since he said: “and I knew Him not” (Jn 1:31), his testimony put forth is trustworthy. They were kindred after the flesh between themselves “wherefore Elizabeth, thy kinswoman, hath also conceived a son” — said the Angel to Mary about the mother of John (Lk. 1: 36); if however the mothers were relatives, then obviously so also were the children. Thus, since they were kinsmen — in order that it should not seem that John would testify concerning Christ because of kinship, the grace of the Spirit organised it such, that John spent all his early years in the wilderness, so that it should not seem that John had declared his testimony out of friendship or some similar reason. But John, as he was instructed of God, thus also announced about Him, wherein also he did say: “and I knew Him not.” From whence didst thou find out? “He having sent me that sayeth to baptise with water, That One did tell me” What did He tell thee? “Over Him thou shalt see the Spirit descending, like to a dove, and abiding over Him, That One is baptised by the Holy Spirit” (Jn 1:32-33). Dost thou see, that the Holy Spirit did not descend as in a first time then coming down upon Him, but in order to point out that preached by His inspiration — as though by a finger, it pointed Him out to all. For this reason He came to baptism.

And there is a second reason, about which He Himself spoke — what exactly is it? When John said: “I have need to be baptised of Thee, and Thou art come to me?” — He answered thus: “stay now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill every righteousness” (Mt 3:14-15). Dost thou see the meekness of the servant? Dost thou see the humility of the Master? What does He mean: “to fulfill every righteousness?” By righteousness is meant the fulfillment of all the commandments, as is said: “both were righteous, walking faultlessly in the commandments of the Lord” (Lk 1:6). Since fulfilling this righteousness was necessary for all people — but no one of them kept it or fulfilled it — Christ came then and fulfilled this righteousness.

And what righteousness is there, someone will say, in being baptised? Obedience for a prophet was righteous. As Christ was circumcised, offered sacrifice, kept the sabbath and observed the Jewish feasts, so also He added this remaining thing, that He was obedient to having been baptised by a prophet. It was the will of God then, that all should be baptised — about which listen, as John speaks: “He having sent me to baptise with water” (Jn 1:33); so also Christ: “the publicans and the people do justify God, having been baptised with the baptism of John; the pharisees and the lawyers reject the counsel of God concerning themselves, not having been baptised by him” (Lk 7:29-30). Thus, if obedience to God constitutes righteousness, and God sent John to baptise the nation, then Christ has also fulfilled this along with all the other commandments.

Consider, that the commandments of the law is the main point of the two denarii: this — debt, which our race has needed to pay; but we did not pay it, and we, falling under such an accusation, are embraced by death. Christ came, and finding us afflicted by it — He paid the debt, fulfilled the necessary and seized from it those, who were not able to pay. Wherefore He does not say: “it is necessary for us to do this or that,” but rather “to fulfill every righteousness.” “It is for Me, being the Master, — says He, — proper to make payment for the needy.” Such was the reason for His baptism — wherefore they should see, that He had fulfilled all the law — both this reason and also that, about which was spoken of before. Wherefore also the Spirit did descend as a dove: because where there is reconciliation with God — there also is the dove. So also in the ark of Noah the dove did bring the branch of olive — a sign of God’s love of mankind and of the cessation of the flood. And now in the form of a dove, and not in a body — this particularly deserves to be noted — the Spirit descended, announcing the universal mercy of God and showing with it, that the spiritual man needs to be gentle, simple and innocent, as Christ also says: “Except ye be converted and become as children, ye shalt not enter into the Heavenly Kingdom” (Mt 18:3). But that ark, after the cessation of the flood, remained upon the earth; this ark, after the cessation of wrath, is taken to heaven, and now this Immaculate and Imperishable Body is situated at the right hand of the Father.

Having made mention about the Body of the Lord, I shall also say a little about this, and then the conclusion of the talk. Many now will approach the Holy Table on the occasion of the feast. But some approach not with trembling, but shoving, hitting others, blazing with anger, shouting, cursing, roughing it up with their fellows with great confusion. What, tell me, art thou troubled by, my fellow? What disturbeth thee? Do urgent affairs, for certain, summon thee? At this hour art thou particularly aware, that these affairs of thine that thou particularly rememberest, that thou art situated upon the earth, and dost thou think to mix about with people? But is it not with a soul of stone naturally to think, that in such a time thou stand upon the earth, and not exult with the Angels with whom to raise up victorious song to God? For this Christ also did describe us with eagles, saying: “where the corpse is, there are the eagles gathered” (Mt 24:28) — so that we might have risen to heaven and soared to the heights, having ascended on the wings of the spirit; but we, like snakes, crawl upon the earth and eat dirt. Having been invited to supper, thou, although satiated before others, would not dare to leave before others while others are still reclining. But here, when the sacred doings are going on, thou at the very middle would pass by everything and leave? Is it for a worthy excuse? What excuse might it be? Judas, having communed that last evening on that final night, left hastily then as all the others were still reclining.

Here these also are in imitation of him, who leave before the final blessing! If he had not gone, then he would not have made the betrayal; if he did not leave his co-disciples, then he would not have perished; if he had not removed himself from the flock, then the wolf would not have seized and devoured him alone; if he had separated himself from the Pastor, then he would not have made himself the prey of wild beasts. Wherefore he (Judas) was with the Jews, and those (the apostles) went out with the Lord. Dost thou see, by what manner the final prayer after the offering of the sacrifice is accomplished? We should, beloved, stand forth for this, we should ponder this, fearful of the coming judgement for this. We should approach the Holy Sacrifice with great decorum, with proper piety, so as to merit us more of God’s benevolence, to cleanse one’s soul and to receive eternal blessings, of which may we all be worthy by the grace and love for mankind of our Lord Jesus Christ, to with Whom the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, power, and worship now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.”

 

 

 

 

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I have referred to Saint John Chrysostom, the 4th Century Patriarch of Constantinople, many times in this blog. He is considered by Orthodox Christians worldwide to be one of the giants of Christian theology, and a brilliant communicator of complicated theological concepts in simple terms to ordinary folk. The Divine Liturgy he wrote is still performed in Georgian every Sunday almost every week of the liturgical year in this country, which is a gifted synthesis of worship, poetry and theology lesson. He is a beloved saint in this country because he was exiled here and died here, in Abkhazeti.

For various reasons, several of the Orthodox Patriarchates chose to follow the New Calendar rather than the Julian calender for calculating dates of feasts, including the Churches of Constantinople, Greece and Romania. Ordinarily, I post feast days according to the Julian Calender which the Georgian Church follows, 14 days after the New Calender. As we all know, today in Georgia is the Commemoration of the 100,000 Martyrs of Tbilisi slain under Jelaluddin (1227). Thousands are congregating on the Metekhi Bridge in Tbilisi this evening to commemorate this sad anniversary, which I have covered before here.

However, on this day in Constantinople there are great festivities celebrating the City’s greatest orator, and all Orthodox people worldwide take pleasure in witnessing the unique local customs associated with that feast. The Ceremony of the Enthronement of Saint John Chrysostom on the Patriarchal Throne of Constantinople is an annual ceremony of great antiquity. One may see His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew to the left of the throne.

From a posting of Metropolitan Nektarios of the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong

The tradition of enthronement of St. John Chrysostom on the Patriarchal Throne, is upheld to this very day in the Phanar, on the feast day of the Saint (13 November) as well as on the feast day of the Translation of his Holy Relics (27 January). On these days the Ecumenical Patriarch does not ascend onto his Throne, but he officiates from the “Parathronion”, the smaller throne next to the Patriarchal Throne, both during Great Vespers and Divine Liturgy. The sacred icon of St. John Chrysostom is placed on the Patriarchal Throne, and the Great Ecclesiarch places next to the icon the pastoral staff of the saint. The priests and the deacons who are going to participate in the celebration of both Great Vespers and the Divine Liturgy on those days do not receive the blessing from the Ecumenical Patriarch as they usually do, but from the sacred icon of the saint, who remains alive in the memory of the Church of Constantinople.

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For those who are interested, an English translation of the Midnight Office and Paschal Matins are provided below. Please forgive any inaccuracies as the text has been translated from Greek rather than Georgian.

The Midnight Office

 Midnight Office for Pascha begins at 11:00 P.M.

 Priest: Blessed is our God, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

Reader: Amen. Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O Heavenly king, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present, and fillest all things, Treasury of good things, and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (Thrice)

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

O Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, blot out our sins. O Master, pardon our iniquities. O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for Thy name’s sake.

Lord, have mercy. (Thrice)

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

Our Father, Who art in the heavens, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Priest: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

Reader: Amen.

Lord, have mercy. (Twelve times)

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

O come let us worship God our King.

O come let us worship and fall down before Christ our King and God.

O come let us worship and fall down before Christ Himself, our King and God.

Psalm 50

 Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy; and according to the multitude of Thy compassions blot out my transgression. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know mine iniquity, and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee only have I sinned and done this evil before Thee, that Thou mightest be justified in Thy words, and prevail when Thou art judged. For behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother bear me. For behold, Thou hast loved truth; the hidden and secret things of Thy wisdom hast Thou made manifest unto me. Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be made clean; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow. Thou shalt make me to hear joy and gladness; the bones that be humbled, they shall rejoice. Turn Thy face away from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and with Thy governing Spirit establish me. I shall teach transgressors Thy ways, and the ungodly shall turn back unto Thee. Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation; my tongue shall rejoice in Thy righteousness. O Lord, Thou shalt open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Thy praise. For if Thou hadst desired sacrifice, I had given it; with whole-burnt offerings Thou shalt not be pleased. A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise. Do good, O Lord, in Thy good pleasure unto Zion, and let the walls of Jerusalem be builded. Then shalt Thou be pleased with a sacrifice of righteousness, with oblation and whole-burnt offerings. Then shall they offer bullocks upon Thine altar.

Canon, Sixth Tone

ODE I

Irmos, Tone 6: He Who in ancient times hid the pursuing tyrant beneath the waves of the sea, is hidden beneath the earth by the children of those whom once He saved. But let us, like the maidens, sing unto the Lord, for gloriously is He glorified.

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O Lord my God, I will sing to Thee a funeral hymn, a song at Thy burial: for by Thy burial Thou hast opened for me the gates of life, and by Thy death Thou hast slain death and Hades.

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

All things above and all beneath the earth quaked with fear at Thy death, as they beheld Thee, O my Saviour, upon Thy throne on high and in the tomb below. For seeing Thou wert mortal is beyond understanding, O Author of life.

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

To fill all things with Thy glory, Thou hast gone down into the nethermost parts of the earth: for my substance that is in Adam is not hidden from Thee, but when buried, Thou dost restore me from corruption, O Lover of mankind.

Katavasia, Tone 6: He Who in ancient times hid the pursuing tyrant beneath the waves of the sea, is hidden beneath the earth by the children of those whom once He saved. But let us, like the maidens, sing unto the Lord, for gloriously is He glorified.

ODE III

Irmos, Tone 6: When the creation beheld Thee, Who hast hung the whole earth freely upon the waters, hanging on Golgotha, it was seized with horror and cried aloud: “There is none holy beside Thee, O Lord.”

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Images of Thy burial hast Thou disclosed in a multitude of visions; and now, as the God-Man, Thou hast revealed Thy secrets unto those in hades, O Master, who cry aloud: “There is none holy beside Thee, O Lord.”

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Thou hast stretched out Thine arms and united all that of old was separated; clothed in a winding sheet, O Saviour, and buried in a tomb, Thou hast loosed the captives, who cry aloud: “There is none holy beside Thee, O Lord.”

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

By a tomb and seals, O Uncontainable One, wast Thou held of Thine own will; but through Thine energies Thou hast showed Thy power by Divine action to those who sing: “There is none holy beside Thee, O Lord, Lover of mankind.

Katavasia, Tone 6: When the creation beheld Thee, Who hast hung the whole earth freely upon the waters, hanging on Golgotha, it was seized with horror and cried aloud: “There is none holy beside Thee, O Lord.”

 Sessional Hymn, First Tone

The soldiers keeping watch over Thy tomb, O Saviour, became as dead men from the shining brightness at the appearing of the angel, who proclaimed to the women the Resurrection. We glorify Thee as the Destroyer of corruption; we fall down before Thee, risen from the tomb, our only God.

ODE IV

Irmos, Tone 6: Foreseeing Thy divine self-emptying upon the Cross, Habakkuk, amazed, cried out: “Thou hast cut asunder the strength of the mighty, O Good One, and preached to those in hades, as the Almighty One.

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Today Thou hast sanctified the seventh day, which anciently Thou didst bless by resting from Thy works. Thou bringest all things into being and renewest all things, observing the sabbath, O my Saviour, and restoring all.

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

By Thy greater power, Thou hast conquered; from the flesh Thy soul was parted, yet Thou hast burst asunder both bonds, death and hades, O Word, by Thy might.

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

Hades was embittered when it met Thee, O Word, for it saw a mortal deified, striped with wounds, yet all-powerful; and it shrank back in terror at this sight.

Katavasia, Tone 6: Foreseeing Thy divine self-emptying upon the Cross, Habakkuk, amazed, cried out: “Thou hast cut asunder the strength of the mighty, O Good One, and preached to those in Hades, as the Almighty One.

ODE V

Irmos, Tone 6: Thy Theophany, O Christ, the Unwaning Light, that mercifully came to pass for us, Isaiah, keeping watch, beheld out of the night, and he cried aloud: “The dead shall arise, and those in the tombs shall be raised up, and all that are born of earth shall rejoice.”

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Thou makest new those of earth, O Creator, becoming a thing of dust, and the winding-sheet and tomb reveal, O Word, the mystery that is within Thee; for the noble counselor typifies the counsel of Him that begat Thee, Who hath majestically refashioned me in Thee.

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

By Thy death dost Thou transform mortality and by Thy burial, corruption, for Thou makest incorruptible, by divine majesty, the nature Thou hast taken, rendering it immortal; for Thy flesh saw not corruption, O Master, nor was Thy soul left in Hades as that of a stranger.

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

Coming forth from an unwedded Mother, and wounded in Thy side with a spear, O my Maker, Thou hast brought to pass the re-creation of Eve. Becoming Adam, Thou hast in ways surpassing nature slept a nature-restoring sleep, raising life from sleep and from corruption, for Thou art the Almighty.

Katavasia, Tone 6: Thy Theophany, O Christ, the Unwaning Light, that mercifully came to pass for us, Isaiah, keeping watch, beheld out of the night, and he cried aloud: “The dead shall arise, and those in the tombs shall be raised up, and all that are born of earth shall rejoice.”

ODE VI

Irmos, Tone 6: Caught but not held in the belly of the whale was Jonah; for, bearing the image of Thee, Who hast suffered and wast given to burial, he came forth from the monster as from a bridal chamber, and he called out to the watch: “O ye who keep guard falsely and in vain, ye have forsaken your own mercy.”

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Torn wast Thou, but not separated, O Word, from the flesh of which Thou hadst partaken; for though Thy temple was destroyed at the time of Thy Passion, yet the Substance of Thy Godhead and of Thy flesh is but one. For in both Thou art one Son, the Word of God, both God and man.

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Fatal to man, but not to God, was the sin of Adam; for though the earthly substance of Thy flesh suffered, yet the Godhead remained impassable; that which in Thy nature was corruptible Thou hast transformed to incorruption, and a fountain of life incorruptible hast Thou revealed by Thy Resurrection.

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

Hades reigneth, but not for ever over the race of man; for Thou, laid in a tomb, O Sovereign Lord, hast burst asunder the bars of death with Thy life-giving hand, and Thou hast proclaimed to those who slept from the ages the true redemption, O Saviour, Who art become the Firstborn from the dead.

Katavasia, Tone 6: Caught but not held in the belly of the whale was Jonah; for, bearing the image of Thee, Who hast suffered and wast given to burial, he came forth from the monster as from a bridal chamber, and he called out to the watch: “O ye who keep guard falsely and in vain, ye have forsaken your own mercy.”

Kontakion, Sixth Tone

He Who closed the abyss is beheld dead, and as a corpse the Immortal is wrapped in linen with sweet spices and laid in a tomb. The women come to anoint Him with myrrh, weeping bitterly and crying: “This is the most blessed sabbath on which Christ sleepeth but on the third day He shall rise again.”

Ikos

He Who sustaineth all things was lifted upon the Cross, and all creation wept, seeing Him hanging naked on the Tree. The sun hid its rays, and the stars cast aside their light; the earth shook in much fear, and the sea fled, and the rocks were rent, and many graves were opened and the bodies of the saints arose. Hades groaned below, and the Jews conspired to spread slander against Christ’s Resurrection. But the women cried aloud: “This is the most blessed sabbath on which Christ sleepeth, but on the third day He shall rise again.”

ODE VII

Irmos, Tone 6: O ineffable wonder! He Who delivered the holy Children from the fiery furnace is laid a corpse without breath in the tomb, for the salvation of us who sing: “O God our Redeemer, blessed art Thou.”

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Wounded in the heart was Hades when it received Him Who was wounded in the side by a spear, and consumed by divine fire it groaned aloud at the salvation of us who sing: “O God our Redeemer, blessed art Thou.”

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O wealthy tomb! For it received within itself the Creator, as one asleep, and it was shown to be a divine treasury of life, for the sa1vation of us who sing: “O God our Redeemer, blessed art Thou.”

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

In accordance with the law of the dead, the Life of all submitteth to be laid in the tomb, and He showeth it to be a source of awakening, for the salvation of us who sing: “O God our Redeemer, blessed art Thou.”

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Whether in Hades or in the tomb or in Eden, the Godhead of Christ was indivisibly one with the Father and the Spirit, for the salvation of us who sing: “O God our Redeemer, blessed art Thou.”

Katavasia, Tone 6: O ineffable wonder! He Who delivered the holy Children from the fiery furnace is laid a corpse without breath in the tomb, for the salvation of us who sing: “O God our Redeemer, blessed art Thou.”

ODE VIII

Irmos, Tone 6: Be ye astonished and afraid, O heaven, and let the foundations of the earth be shaken; for lo, He Who dwelleth on high is numbered with the dead and lodgeth as a stranger in a narrow tomb. Him do ye children bless, ye priests praise, and ye people supremely exalt unto all ages.

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

The most pure Temple is destroyed, but raiseth up the fallen tabernacle. For the second Adam, He Who dwelleth on high, hath come down to the first Adam, even into the chambers of hades. Him do ye children bless, ye priests praise, and ye people supremely exalt unto all aces.

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

The disciples’ courage failed, but Joseph of Arimathea was bolder; for, seeing the God of all a corpse and naked, he asked for the body and buried Him, crying: Him do ye children bless, ye priests praise, and ye people supremely exalt unto all ages.

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

O new wonders! O what goodness! O ineffable forbearance! For of His own will He Who dwelleth on high is sealed beneath the earth, and God is falsely accused as a deceiver. Him do ye children bless, ye priests praise, and ye people supremely exalt unto all ages.

Katavasia, Tone 6: Be ye astonished and afraid, O heaven, and let the foundations of the earth be shaken; for lo, He Who dwelleth on high is numbered with the dead and lodgeth as a stranger in a narrow tomb. Him do ye children bless, ye priests praise, and ye people supremely exalt unto all ages.

ODE IX

Irmos, Tone 6: Weep not for Me, O Mother, beholding in the tomb the Son Whom thou hast conceived without seed in the womb; for I shall arise and shall be glorified, and as God I shall exalt with glory unceasing those that with faith and love magnify thee.

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

At Thy strange birth, O Son without beginning, I was blessed in ways surpassing nature, for I was spared all travail. But now, beholding Thee, my God, a lifeless corpse, I am pierced with the sword of bitter grief. But arise, that I may be magnified.

Refrain: Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

The earth covereth Me as I desire, O Mother, but the gatekeepers of hades tremble as they see Me, clothed in the bloodstained garment of vengeance; for on the Cross as God have I struck down Mine enemies, and I shall rise again and magnify thee.

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

Let creation rejoice, let all that are born of earth be glad, for the enemy, Hades, hath been despoiled; let the women come with myrrh to meet Me, for I am delivering Adam and Eve with all their offspring, and on the third day I shall rise again.

Katavasia, Tone 6: Weep not for He, O Mother, beholding in the tomb the Son Whom thou hast conceived without seed in the womb; for I shall arise and shall be glorified, and as God I shall exalt with glory unceasing those that with faith and love magnify thee.

Trisagion

Reader: Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (Thrice)

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

O Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, blot out our sins. O Master, pardon our iniquities. O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for Thy name’s sake.

Lord have mercy. (Thrice)

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

Our Father, Who art in the Heavens, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Priest:For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory; of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

Reader: Amen.

Troparion, Second Tone:

 Choir: When Thou didst descend unto death, O Life Immortal, then didst Thou slay Hades with the lightning of Thy Divinity. And when Thou didst also raise the dead out of the nether-most depths, all the hosts of the heavens cried out: O Life-giver, Christ our God, glory be to Thee.

Priest: Have mercy on us, O God, according to Thy great mercy, we pray Thee, hearken and have mercy.

Choir: Lord, have mercy. (Thrice)

Priest: Again let us pray for Our Great Lord and Father, His Holiness Catholicos Ilia, Patriarch of All Georgia ; for our lord the Very Most Reverend Metropolitan N., and all our brethren in Christ.

Choir: Lord, have mercy. (Thrice)

Priest: Again we pray for all the brethren and for all Christians.

Choir: Lord, have mercy. (Thrice)

Priest: For a merciful God art Thou, and the Lover of mankind, and unto Thee do we send up glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

Choir:Amen.

Priest: Glory to Thee, O Christ God, our hope, glory to Thee.

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

Lord, have mercy. (Thrice)

Father bless.

THE DISMISSAL

Priest: May Christ our true God, Who rose from the dead, through the intercessions of His most pure Mother, of our holy and God-bearing fathers, and of all the saints, have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and the Lover of mankind.

Choir: Amen.

Paschal Matins

At the stroke of midnight, the clergy, assembled in the altar, begin to chant the following, at first quietly and then more loudly with each of the two repetitions:

 Clergy: Thy Resurrection, O Christ Savior, / the angels in the heavens sing; / vouchsafe also us on earth // with pure hearts to glorify Thee. (Thrice)

 As this is chanted the third time, the clergy go out of the church in procession, followed by all the faithful.

 Choir: Thy Resurrection, O Christ Savior, / the angels in the heavens sing; / vouchsafe also us on earth // with pure hearts to glorify Thee. (Repeatedly)

 After going around the church, the clergy stop at the closed doors.

 Senior Clergyman: Glory to the holy, and consubstantial, and life-creating, and indivisible Trinity, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

 Choir: Amen.

 Clergy: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life! (Thrice)

 Choir: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life! (Thrice)

 While the choir chanteth, the priest censeth the people exclaiming:

 Priest: CHRIST IS RISEN!

 People: INDEED HE IS RISEN!

 The Priest reads the stichoi, and the choir sings the troparion after each

stichos:

Stichos 1: Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered, and let them that hate Him flee from before His face.

Choir: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

Stichos 2: As smoke vanisheth, so let them vanish, as wax melteth before the fire.

Choir: Repeat Troparion

Stichos 3: So let the sinners perish at the presence of God, and let the righteous be glad.

Choir: Repeat Troparion

Stichos 4: This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad therein.

Choir: Repeat Troparion

Priest: Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Choir: Repeat Troparion

Priest: Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Choir: Repeat Troparion

Priest: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death.

Choir: And upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

 And all enter the church. The Priest (or clergy) stand before the icon of the Resurrection in the center of the church. And the Great Litany is said.

 Deacon:In peace let us pray to the Lord.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon: For the peace from above, and the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon:For the peace of the whole world, the good estate of the holy churches of God, and the union of all, let us pray to the Lord.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon:For this holy temple, and for them that with faith, reverence, and the fear of God enter herein, let us pray to the Lord.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon: For our Great Lord and Father, His Holiness Catholicos Ilia, Patriarch of All Georgia.; for our lord the Very Most Reverend Metropolitan N., for the venerable priesthood, the diaconate in Christ, for all the clergy and people, let us pray to the Lord.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon:For this land, its authorities and armed forces, let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon:That He may deliver His people from enemies both visible and invisible, and confirm in us oneness of mind, brotherly love and piety, let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon:For this city (or this town, or this holy monastery), for every city and country, and the faithful that dwell therein, let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon:For seasonable weather, abundance of the fruits of the earth, and peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon:For travelers by sea, land and air; for the sick, the suffering, the imprisoned, and for their salvation, let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon:That we may be delivered from all tribulation, wrath, and necessity, let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon:Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon:Calling to remembrance our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and all our life unto Christ our God.

Choir: To Thee, O Lord.

Priest: For unto Thee is due all glory, honor and worship; to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

Choir: Amen.

ODE I

 Irmos, Tone 1:It is the Day of Resurrection, /

let us be radiant, O ye people; /

Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha: /

for from death to life, /

and from earth to heaven, /

Christ God hath brought us, //

as we sing the song of victory.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Let us purify our senses, /

and we shall behold Christ, /

radiant with the unapproachable light of the Resurrection, /

and we shall clearly hear Him say, Rejoice! //

as we sing the hymn of victory.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Let the heavens be glad as is meet, /

and let the earth rejoice, /

and let the whole world, both visible and invisible, /

keep festival: /

for Christ is risen, //

O gladness eternal.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. (Thrice)

Small Litany

Deacon: Again and again, in peace let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon:Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon:Calling to remembrance our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and all our life unto Christ our God.

Choir: To Thee, O Lord.

Priest: For Thine is the dominion, and Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

Choir: Amen.

ODE III

 Irmos, Tone 1: Come, let us drink a new drink, /

not one miraculously brought forth from a barren rock /

but the Fountain of Incorruption, /

springing forth from the tomb of Christ, //

in Whom we are strengthened.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Now all things are filled with light; /

heaven and earth, /

and the nethermost parts of the earth; /

let all creation, therefore, celebrate the arising of Christ //

whereby it is strengthened.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Yesterday I was buried with Thee, O Christ; /

today I rise with Thine arising. /

Yesterday I was crucified with Thee; /

do Thou Thyself glorify me with Thee, O Savior, //

in Thy kingdom.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. (Thrice)

 Small Litany

 Deacon: Again and again, in peace let us pray to the Lord.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon:Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon:Calling to remembrance our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and all our life unto Christ our God.

 Choir: To Thee, O Lord.

 Priest: For Thou art our God, and unto Thee do we send up glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

 Choir: Amen.

 Hypakoe, Eighth Tone

 Forestalling the dawn, the women came with Mary, /

and found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre, and heard from the angel: /

Why seek ye among the dead, as though He were mortal, Him Who liveth in everlasting light? /

Behold the grave-clothes. Go quickly and proclaim to the world that the Lord is risen and hath slain death. //

For He is the Son of God Who saveth mankind.

ODE IV

 Irmos, Tone 1:

On divine watch let the God-inspired Habakkuk stand with us, /

and show forth the light-bearing angel clearly saying: /

Today salvation is come to the world, /

for Christ is risen //

as Almighty.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

As a man-child did Christ appear /

when He came forth from the Virgin’s womb, /

and as a mortal was He called the Lamb. /

Without blemish also, is our Pascha /

for He tasted no defilement; //

and as true God, perfect was He proclaimed.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Like unto a yearling lamb, /

Christ, our blessed Crown, /

of His own will was sacrificed for all, /

a Pascha of purification; /

and from the tomb the beautiful Sun of Righteousness //

shone forth again upon us.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

David, the ancestor of God, /

danced with leaping before the symbolical Ark; /

let us also, the holy people of God, /

beholding the fulfillment of the symbols, /

be divinely glad; //

for Christ is risen as Almighty.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. (Thrice)

Small Litany

 Deacon: Again and again, in peace let us pray to the Lord.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon:Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon:Calling to remembrance our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and all our life unto Christ our God.

 Choir: To Thee, O Lord.

 Priest: For Thou art a good God, and the Lover of mankind, and unto Thee do we send up glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

 Choir: Amen.

ODE V

 Irmos, Tone 1: Let us awake in the deep dawn, /

and instead of myrrh, offer a hymn to the Master, /

and we shall see Christ, /

the Sun of Righteousness, //

Who causeth life to dawn for all.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Seeing Thy boundless compassion /

they who were held in the bonds of hades /

hastened to the light, O Christ, /

with gladsome feet, //

praising the Pascha eternal.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Bearing lights, let us approach Christ, /

Who cometh forth from the tomb like a bridegroom, /

and with the feast-loving ranks of angels /

let us celebrate //

the saving Pascha of God.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. (Thrice)

Small Litany

 Deacon: Again and again, in peace let us pray to the Lord.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon:Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon:Calling to remembrance our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and all our life unto Christ our God.

 Choir: To Thee, O Lord.

Priest: For sanctified and glorified is Thy most honorable and majestic name: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

Choir: Amen.

 ODE VI

 Irmos, Tone 1: Thou didst descend into the nethermost parts of the earth, /

and didst shatter the eternal bars that held the fettered, O Christ, /

and on the third day, /

like Jonah from the whale, //

Thou didst arise from the tomb.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Having kept the seals intact, O Christ, /

Thou didst rise from the tomb, /

O Thou Who didst not break the seal of the Virgin by Thy birth, /

and Thou hast opened for us //

the doors of Paradise.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

O my Savior, the living and unslain Sacrifice, /

when, as God, Thou, of Thine Own will, /

hadst offered up Thyself unto the Father, /

Thou didst raise up with Thyself the whole race of Adam, //

when Thou didst rise from the tomb.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. (Thrice)

Small Litany

 Deacon: Again and again, in peace let us pray to the Lord.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon:Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon:Calling to remembrance our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and all our life unto Christ our God.

 Choir: To Thee, O Lord.

 Priest: For Thou art the King of peace, and the Savior of our souls, and unto Thee do we send up glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

 Choir: Amen.

 Kontakion:

 Tone 8:

Thou didst descend into the tomb, O Immortal, /

Thou didst destroy the power of hell. /

In victory didst Thou arise, O Christ God, /

proclaiming “Rejoice!” to the myrrh-bearing women; /

granting peace to Thine apostles, //

and bestowing resurrection on the fallen.

Ikos

 The myrrh-bearing women forestalled the dawn, seeking, as it were day, the Sun that was before the sun and Who had once set in the tomb, and they cried out one to another: O friends! come, let us anoint with spices the life-bringing and buried Body, the Flesh that raised up fallen Adam, that now lieth in the tomb. Let us go, let us hasten, like the Magi, and let us worship and offer myrrh as a gift to Him Who is wrapped now not in swaddling clothes but in a shroud. And let us weep and cry aloud: O Master, arise, Thou Who dost grant resurrection to the fallen.

 Hymn of the Resurrection

 Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, * let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, * the only sinless One. * We worship Thy Cross, O Christ, * and Thy holy Resurrection we hymn and glorify. * For Thou art our God, * and we know none other beside Thee; * we call upon Thy name. * O come, all ye faithful, * let us worship Christ’s holy Resurrection, * for, behold, through the Cross joy hath come to all the world. * Ever blessing the Lord, * we hymn His Resurrection; * for, having endured crucifixion, * He hath destroyed death by death. (Thrice)

 ODE VII

 Irmos, Tone 1: He Who delivered the Children from the furnace, /

became man, suffereth as a mortal, /

and through His Passion /

doth clothe mortality with the beauty of incorruption, /

He is the only blessed and most glorious //

God of our fathers.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

The godly-wise women with myrrh /

followed after Thee in haste; /

but Him Whom they sought with tears as dead, /

they worshipped joyfully as the living God, /

and they brought unto Thy disciples, O Christ, //

the good tidings of the mystical Pascha.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

We celebrate the death of death, /

the destruction of hades, /

the beginning of another life eternal, /

and leaping for joy, /

we hymn the Cause, //

the only blessed and most glorious God of our fathers.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

For truly sacred and all-festive is this saving night, /

and this shining, light-bearing day, /

the harbinger of the Resurrection, /

whereon the Timeless Light bodily //

from the tomb upon all hath shined.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. (Thrice)

Small Litany

 Deacon: Again and again, in peace let us pray to the Lord.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon:Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon:Calling to remembrance our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and all our life unto Christ our God.

 Choir: To Thee, O Lord.

 Priest: Blessed and most glorified be the dominion of Thy kingdom: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

 Choir: Amen.

 ODE VIII

 Irmos, Tone 1: This chosen and holy day /

is the first of the sabbaths, /

the queen and lady, /

the feast of feasts, /

and the festival of festivals, //

wherein we bless Christ unto the ages.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Come, on this auspicious day of the Resurrection, /

let us partake of the fruit of the new vine /

of divine gladness of the kingdom of Christ, /

praising Him as God //

unto the ages.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Lift up thine eyes about thee, O Zion, /

and see, for behold, there cometh unto thee /

like God-illumined beacons, /

from the west, and from the north, /

and from the sea, and from the east, //

thy children, in thee blessing Christ unto the ages.

Refrain: O Most Holy Trinity, our God, glory be to Thee.

O Father Almighty, and Word, and Spirit, /

one Nature united in three Persons, /

transcendent and most divine! /

Into Thee have we been baptized, //

and Thee will we bless unto all ages.

Choir: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. (Thrice)

Small Litany

Deacon: Again and again, in peace let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon:Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon:Calling to remembrance our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and all our life unto Christ our God.

 Choir: To Thee, O Lord.

 Priest: For blessed is Thy name, and glorified is Thy kingdom: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

Choir: Amen.

 ODE IX

 Refrain: Magnify, O my soul, Him Who willingly suffered, and was buried, and rose from the grave on the third day.

 Tone 1:Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem, /

for the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee; /

dance now and be glad, O Zion, /

and do thou exult, O pure Theotokos, //

in the arising of Him Whom thou didst bear.

Refrain: Magnify, O my soul, Christ the Giver of life, Who arose from the grave on the third day.

Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem, /

for the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee; /

dance now and be glad, O Zion, /

and do thou exult, O pure Theotokos, //

in the arising of Him Whom thou didst bear.

Refrain: Christ is the new Pascha, the living-sacrifice, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.

O how divine, how loving, /

how sweet is Thy voice! /

For Thou hast truly promised /

to be with us unto the end of the age, O Christ; /

having this foundation of hope, //

we the faithful rejoice.

Refrain: Today all creation is glad and rejoiceth, for Christ is risen, and hades is led in captivity.

O how divine, how loving, /

how sweet is Thy voice! /

For Thou hast truly promised /

to be with us unto the end of the age, O Christ; /

having this foundation of hope, //

we the faithful rejoice.

Refrain: Magnify, O my soul, the dominion of the Tri-hypostatic and Indivisible Godhead.

O Christ, Thou great and most sacred Pascha! /

O Wisdom, Word and power of God! /

Grant us to partake of Thee more fully /

in the unwaning day //

of Thy kingdom.

Refrain: Rejoice, O Virgin, rejoice; rejoice O blessed one; rejoice, O most glorified one: for thy Son is risen on the third day from the grave.

O Christ, Thou great and most sacred Pascha! /

O Wisdom, Word and power of God! /

Grant us to partake of Thee more fully /

in the unwaning day //

of Thy kingdom.

Choir: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. (Thrice)

Small Litany:

 Deacon: Again and again, in peace let us pray to the Lord.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon:Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon:Calling to remembrance our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and all our life unto Christ our God.

 Choir: To Thee, O Lord.

 Priest: For all the hosts of heaven praise Thee, and unto Thee do we send up glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

 Choir: Amen.

 Exapostilarion

 Tone 3: Having fallen asleep in the flesh, * as a mortal, * O King and Lord, * on the third day Thou didst rise again, * raising up Adam from corruption, * and abolishing death: * O Pascha of incorruption, * Salvation of the world! (Thrice)

 The Lauds (the Praises) in 1st tone:

 Choir: Let every breath praise the Lord. * Praise the Lord from the heavens, * praise Him in the highest. * To Thee is due praise, O God.

Praise Him, all ye His angels; * praise Him, all ye His hosts. * To Thee is due praise, O God.

Praise Him, O sun and moon; praise Him all ye stars and light.

Praise Him, ye heavens of heavens, and thou water that art above the heavens.

Let them praise the name of the Lord; for He spake, and they came to be; He commanded, and they were created.

He established them for ever, yea, for ever and ever; He hath set an ordinance, and it shall not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all ye abysses.

Fire, hail, snow, ice, blast of tempest, which perform His word.

The mountains and all the hills, fruitful trees, and all cedars.

The beasts and all the cattle, creeping things and winged birds.

Kings of the earth, and all peoples, princes and all the judges of the earth.

Young men and virgins, elders with the younger; let them praise the name of the Lord, for exalted is the name of Him alone.

His praise is above the earth and heaven, and He shall exalt the horn of His people.

This is the hymn for all His saints, for the sons of Israel, and for the people that draw nigh unto Him.

Sing unto the Lord a new song; His praise is in the church of the saints.

Let Israel be glad in Him that made him, let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King.

Let them praise His name in the dance; with the timbrel and the psaltery let them chant unto Him.

For the Lord taketh pleasure in His people, and He shall exalt the meek with salvation.

The saints shall boast in glory, and they shall rejoice upon their beds.

The high praise of God shall be in their throat, and two-edged swords shall be in their hands.

To do vengeance among the heathen, punishments among the peoples.

To bind their kings with fetters, and their nobles with manacles of iron.

To do among them the judgment that is written. This glory shall be to all His saints.

Praise ye God in His saints, praise Him in the firmament of His power.

 Stichos: Praise Him for His mighty acts, * praise Him according to the multitude of His greatness.

Tone 1: We hymn, O Christ, Thy saving Passion, // and glorify Thy Resurrection.

Stichos: Praise Him with the sound of trumpet, * praise Him with the psaltery and harp.

 O Thou Who didst endure the Cross, / and didst abolish death, / and didst rise again from the dead: / Make our life peaceful, O Lord, // for Thou alone art almighty.

 Stichos: Praise Him with timbrel and dance,  praise him with strings and flute.

O Thou Who didst lead hades captive, / and didst raise up man by Thy Resurrection, / deem us worthy, with pure hearts, // to hymn and glorify Thee.

 Stichos: Praise Him with tuneful cymbals, praise Him with cymbals of jubilation. * Let every breath praise the Lord.

 Glorifying Thy Godly-majestic condescension, / we hymn Thee, O Christ; / for Thou wast born of a Virgin, / yet Thou didst remain inseparable from the Father; / Thou didst suffer as a man, and willingly didst endure the Cross; / Thou didst rise from the tomb, / coming forth as from a bridal chamber, / that Thou mightest save the world: // O Lord, glory be to Thee.

 THE PASCHAL STICHERA

Fifth Tone:

 Stichos: Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered.

 A Pascha sacred today hath been shown unto us;  Pascha new and holy,  a Pascha mystical,  a Pascha all-venerable!  A Pascha that is Christ the Redeemer;  a Pascha immaculate,  a great Pascha;  a Pascha of the faithful;  a Pascha that hath opened the gates of Paradise to us;  a Pascha that doth sanctify all the faithful.

 Stichos: As smoke vanisheth, so let them vanish.

 Come from the vision, O ye women, bearers of good tidings, * and say ye unto Zion: * Receive from us the good tidings * of the Resurrection of Christ; * adorn thyself, exult, * and rejoice, O Jerusalem, * for thou hast seen Christ the King, * like a bridegroom come forth from the tomb.

 Stichos: So let sinners perish at the presence of God, and let the righteous be glad.

 The myrrh-bearing women * in the deep dawn * stood before the tomb of the Giver of life; * they found an angel sitting upon the stone, * and he, speaking to them, said thus: * Why seek ye the Living among the dead? *Why mourn ye the Incorruptible amid corruption? *Go, proclaim unto His disciples.

 Stichos: This is the day which the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad therein.

 Pascha the beautiful, * Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha, * the Pascha all-venerable hath dawned upon us. * Pascha, with joy let us embrace one another. * O Pascha! * Ransom from sorrow, * for from the tomb today, * as from a bridal chamber, * hath Christ shone forth, * and hath filled the women with joy, saying: * Proclaim unto the apostles.

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

 It is the Day of Resurrection, * let us be radiant for the feast, * and let us embrace one another. * Let us say, Brethren, even to them that hate us, * let us forgive all things on the Resurrection, * and thus let us cry out: *Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

 Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life! (Thrice)

 Catechetical Homily of St. John Chrysostom

SEE HERE

Troparion to the Saint, Eighth Tone:

Choir: Grace shining forth from thy mouth like a beacon hath illumined the universe, / and disclosed to the world treasures of uncovetousness, / and shown us the heights of humility; / but while instructing by Thy words, O Father John Chrysostom, // intercede with the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls.

 After this, the deacon saith the Ektenia:

 Deacon: Have mercy on us, O God, according to Thy great mercy, we pray Thee, hearken and have mercy.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy. Thrice.

 Deacon: Again we pray for our Great Lord and Father, His Holiness Patriarch N.; for our lord the Very Most Reverend Metropolitan N., First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad; for our lord the Most Reverend (Archbishop or Bishop N., whose diocese it is) and all our brethren in Christ.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy. Thrice.

 Deacon: Again we pray for the God-preserved land and its Orthodox people both in the homeland and in the diaspora and for their salvation.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy. Thrice.

Deacon: Again we pray for this land, its authorities and armed forces.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy. Thrice.

 Deacon: Again we pray to the Lord our God that He may deliver His people from enemies visible and invisible, and confirm in us oneness of mind, brotherly love and piety.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy. Thrice.

 Deacon: Again we pray for our brethren, the priests, priestmonks, and all our brethren in Christ.

 Choir: Lord have mercy. Thrice.

 Deacon: Again we pray for the blessed and ever-memorable, holy Orthodox patriarchs; for pious kings and right-believing queens; and for the founders of this holy temple (if it be a monastery: this holy monastery): and for all our fathers and brethren gone to their rest before us, and the Orthodox here and everywhere laid to rest.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy. Thrice.

 Deacon: Again we pray for them that bring offerings and do good works in this holy and all-venerable temple; for them that minister and them that chant, and for all the people here present, that await of Thee great and abundant mercy.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy. Thrice.

 Priest: For a merciful God art Thou, and the Lover of mankind, and unto Thee do we send up glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

 Choir:Amen.

 Deacon: Let us complete our morning prayer unto the Lord.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon: Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

 Choir: Lord, have mercy.

 Deacon: That the whole day may be perfect, holy, peaceful and sinless, let us ask of the Lord.

 Choir: Grant this, O Lord.

 Deacon: An angel of peace, a faithful guide, a guardian of our souls and bodies, let us ask of the Lord.

 Choir: Grant this, O Lord.

 Deacon: Pardon and remission of our sins and offences, let us ask of the Lord.

 Choir: Grant this, O Lord.

 Deacon: Things good and profitable for our souls, and peace for the world, let us ask of the Lord.

 Choir: Grant this, O Lord.

 Deacon: That we may complete the remaining time of our life in peace and repentance, let us ask of the Lord.

 Choir: Grant this. O Lord.

 Deacon: A Christian ending to our life, painless, blameless, peaceful, and a good defense before the dread judgment seat of Christ, let us ask.

 Choir: Grant this, O Lord.

 Deacon: Calling to remembrance our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and all our life unto Christ our God.

 Choir: To Thee, O Lord.

 Priest: For a good God art Thou, and the Lover of mankind, and unto Thee do we send up glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

 Choir: Amen.

 Priest: Peace be unto All.

 Choir: And to thy spirit.

 Deacon: Let us bow our heads unto the Lord.

 Choir: To Thee, O Lord.

 Priest: For Thine it is to show mercy and to save us, O our God, and unto Thee do we send up glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

 Choir: Amen.

 Deacon: Wisdom!

 Choir: Father, bless.

 Priest: He that is, is blessed, Christ our God, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

 Choir: Amen. Establish, O God, the holy Orthodox Faith and Orthodox Christians, unto the ages of ages.

 Clergy: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death:

 Choir: And upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

THE DISMISSAL:

 Priest: May Christ our true God, Who rose from the dead, and trampled down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowed life, through the intercessions of His most pure Mother, and of all the saints, have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and the Lover of mankind.

 Priest: CHRIST IS RISEN! (Thrice)

 People: INDEED HE IS RISEN! (After each)

 Choir: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life! (Thrice)

And unto us hath He granted life eternal; we worship His Resurrection on the third day.

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We have referred to Saint John Chrysostom many times in this blog. His homilies are as fresh today as when he first uttered them in Constantinople in the late 4th century, and his keen understanding of human nature remains relevant. Saint John Chrysostom has a special place in the hearts of Georgian Christians, as he was deposed by the Roman Empress and exiled to Colchis, where he died in the town of Pitsunda in Abkhazeti. His relics were a site of pilgrimage for many years until relocated to Constantinople.

At the end of the Paschal Matins service on Saturday night, his homily is read out throughout the world to the congregation by the priest, in Greek, Slavonic, Arabic, Georgian, Romanian or whatever vernacular language the bishop may feel appropriate. The homily has a victorious tone which reflects the Orthodox concept of Christ, as a victorious Warrior-King who has battled the Devil and won, broken down the gates of Hell and liberated the souls of the dead to be reunited with their Father. There is no “Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild” concept of Jesus in the Orthodox Church; he is Almighty God, existing before all ages, Lord of the Universe and Conqueror of Death, and the homily reflects this concept very ably.

The homily is particularly poignant for recent converts, as Saint John Chrysostom declares that even those who have joined the Church at the very last hour, late in life or after a dissolute existence, may share in the the redemption granted by Christ’s Resurrection, on equal terms with those who have been faithful Christians since the cradle.

The Greek word “Hades” in Christian usage, represents Hell; the state in which the souls of those who have rejected Christ await their Final Judgement in sorrow, far from God. Until Christ’s entry into the Underworld and his conquest of Death, the souls of all people, good and bad, lived in this state of sorrow. His defeat of the Devil liberated the souls of the righteous to exist in joyful close proximity with God, awaiting the final Resurrection of the Dead.

Note again that Christ’s Resurrection is described in the present tense rather than past tense; the congregation are not commemorating a distant past event but living through a current miracle.

THE PASCHAL HOMILY
If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.
If anyone is a wise servant, let him, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward.
If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let him keep the feast.
If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; for he shall suffer no loss.
If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near without hesitation.
If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay. For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward.
O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy!
O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day!
You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today!
The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you!
The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.
Let no one lament his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn his transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.
He that was taken by Death has annihilated it!
He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!
He embittered it when it tasted his flesh!
And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, “Hades 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 purged!
It was embittered, for it was despoiled!
It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and, face to face, met God!
It took earth and encountered heaven!
It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen!
“O Death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?”
Christ is risen, and you are 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 a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the First-fruits of them that slept.
To him be glory and might unto ages of ages. Amen.

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Saturday night at midnight we celebrate the great feast of Pascha. After the drama and anguish of reliving Christ’s crucifixion, death and descent into Hell, we await His resurrection with great anticipation.

Pascha at Sameba (Holy Trinity) Cathedral, Tbilisi

Orthodox Christians refer to the Feast of Christ’s Resurrection as Pascha (Pasqa in Georgian), with the word derived from the Hebrew “Pascha” meaning Passover. “Easter” is a Germanic word referring to the month in the pagan calender which Pascha was celebrated in the early days of Christianity in northern Europe. It is not incorrect to use the term Easter, but it is usually preferred to use the term Pascha and it eases communication with other Christians throughout the region.

Churches are extraordinarily packed for this event so one needs to arrive at least 90 minutes early to be able to enter the church. Entering around 9 or 9.30 pm is recommended.

Side chapel at Sioni Cathedral, Tbilisi

The Paschal services are combined end-to-end, with the services running continuously until dawn. Upon entry to the church, you will see the Epitaphios entombed on its table in the centre of the church, surrounded by flowers. The faithful venerate the Epitaphios and await the beginning of the Midnight Office, a service of psalms  and odes that reflect upon the meaning of Christ’s death and His Harrowing of Hell.

The Midnight Office culminates with the Epitaphios being moved to the altar by the priest, where it will stay for the forty days until the Feast of the Ascension. The lights are extinguished and, in less crowded circumstances, the congregation will withdraw outside the church with candles. In Georgia’s very crowded cathedrals this is not possible so instead the clergy withdraw outside the church. The whole church is then likened to a tomb, with the faithful waiting outside for the Resurrection and the doors locked.

The clergy will proceed around the church, bearing banners and chanting, and upon reaching the doors of the “tomb”, the Paschal Troparion “Krist’e Aghsdga” is triumphantly sung for the first time.

Christ is risen from the Dead!

Trampling down death by death,

and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

The triumphant psalm 67 “Let God Arise” is chanted by the priest, with the Paschal Troparion repeated many times.

Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee from before his face!
As smoke vanishes, so let them vanish; as wax melts before the fire,
So the sinners will perish before the face of God; but let the righteous be glad.
This is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

The doors are opened and the faithful re-enter. The church is brightly lit and symbolic of the empty tomb. The Easter icon replaces the tomb in which the Epitaphios was laid, showing Christ destroying the gates of hell and freeing Adam and Eve from the captivity of death.

The priests will declare: “Krist’e Aghsdga!! (Christ is Risen!!)” , to which the congregation joyfully respond “Cheshmaritad Aghsdga!! (Indeed He is Risen!!). It is not uncommon for the priest to also make this declaration in Greek (Christos Anesti!/Aleithos Anesti!) and Slavonic (Hristos Voskrese!!/Voistuna voskrese!!), with the congregation responding accordingly.

The Paschal Canon of Saint John of Damascus is chanted, with the Paschal Troparion as the constantly recurring refrain. Matins ends with the Paschal stichera:

O day of resurrection! Let us beam with God’s own pride! Let everyone embrace in joy! Let us warmly greet those we meet and treat them all like brothers, even those who hate us! Let all the earth resound with this song: Christ is risen from the dead, conquering death by death, and on those in the grave bestowing life!

Next, the Paschal Hours are also sung. At the conclusion, the priest proclaims the famous Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom.

The Paschal Divine Liturgy begins with the singing once more of the Paschal Troparion with the verses of Psalm 67 . The antiphons of the liturgy are special psalm verses that praise and glorify the salvation of God. Again, the troparion Krist’e Aghsdga is repeated over and over again.

The readings take the faithful back again to the beginning, and announces God’s creation and re-creation of the world through the living Word of God, his Son Jesus Christ. The epistle reading is the first nine verses of the Acts of the Apostles. The gospel reading is the first seventeen verses of the Gospel of Saint John (“In the beginning was the Word”) . The Liturgy of St John Chrysostom continues as usual, and all Orthodox Christians who have made confession will take Holy Communion. For some older people, Pascha may be the only day of the year they take Communion.

Day without evening

To the Orthodox, the celebration of Pascha reveals the mystery of the eighth day. It is not merely an historical reenactment of the event of Christ’s Resurrection. It is a way to experience the new creation of the world, a taste of the new and unending day of the Kingdom of God.

This new day is conveyed to the faithful in the length of the paschal services, in the repetition of the paschal order for all the services of Bright Week (the week following Pascha), and in the special paschal features retained in the services for the forty days until Ascension. Forty days are, as it were, treated as one day.

(from Orthodoxwiki.com)

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Saint John Chrysostom was Patriarch of Constantinople in the 4th century and one of Orthodox Christianity’s greatest theologians, liturgists and orators. For this reason, he received the moniker “Golden-Mouth” (Chrysostomos in Greek). He died in the Gagra district of Georgia.

Of Greco-Syrian background, Saint John Chrysostom was born in Antioch and ordained as a deacon there in 381. In 386 he became a priest and was famed for over a decade as an eloquent orator. His homilies are still widely recited at Orthodox churches during the sermon. His particular passions were compassion for the poor, for Christians to lead simple lives, and straightforward interpretation of Holy Scriptures that common people could comprehend.

Against his wishes, he was appointed Patriarch of Constantinople in 398, where he continued to preach against extravagance, which created hostility amongst the gentry and the Imperial family. The Eastern Roman empress, Eudoxia, in particular developed a grudge against him. Concurrently, the Patriarch of Alexandria, Theophilus, at the time wanted to depose John and control Constantinople himself.

As a result, a rigged Synod was called; Saint John Chrysostom was deposed for heresy and banished to Armenia. He continued to write letters to his flock in Constantinople, for which he was further banished to Georgia. He died near Bichvinta (Pitsunda in the Abkhaz language) in the Gagra district of Georgia’s Abkhazeti region in 407. A cathedral in his memory was commissioned by King Bagrat III of Georgia in the 10th century in Bichvinta, which still stands.

Saint John Chrystostom was declared a saint not long after his death and his remains were eventually repatriated to Constantinople. They were looted as trophies by Roman Catholic Crusaders in 1204 and taken to Rome where they were installed in the Vatican. As a gesture of goodwill, the Pope of Rome returned these relics to Constantinople in 2004.

Saint John Chrysostom has great significance in Georgia. His Divine Liturgy was translated into Georgian soon after his death and is now the standard service performed on Sunday mornings throughout the country.  His Paschal Homily is recited at every Orthodox church in Georgia at Easter. The place of his repose in Abkhazeti was a place of pilgrimage for Georgian Orthodox Christians for centuries, a tradition sadly impeded by Russian occupation now. His coffin, no longer in use, is still on display.

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