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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

My first Pascha!

I shall be going along to the liturgy for Pascha this year for the first time. I have never attended Orthodox worship before. I have, of course, done a bit of reading about this, but it would still be good to hear from people here.

What can I expect? I would especially like to hear of anything that is specific to thie celebration. Also what would be expected of me?

Many thanks.


Anonymous said...

What would be expected of a visitor at a Paschal liturgy?

Nothing whatever! Just stand in the back of the church where you can observe, listen and enjoy all the beauty of it. You will find yourself joining in on the many repetitions of the hymn "Christ is Risen from the dead"--it will soon stick in your mind and you'll never forget it.

If you can, try to attend the Great and Holy Friday "Lamentations" with the procession of the Tomb. It prepares you for Pascha like nothing else will.

Leetle M.
Have a happy, holy Pascha!

Ian said...

Leetle M said it well; sit (well, stand ;-)) back and participate with your voice where you can.

My first few Divine Liturgies were spent following along with the service book and listening to the various melodies well as watching all the 'action' -- priests, deacons and servers popping in and out, and processing. Having never attended a completely "sung" service, and attending a liturgy so different from the Western Rite ones, kept me enthralled for a good few weeks. Given the Orthodox love for repetition, you'll soon be able to participate.

The Pascha service is a very beautiful and moving service. I guarantee you'll come away with a great sense of joy.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I thought of something. In Russian churches, try not to stand with your hands clasped behind your back, and if you do sit, don't cross your legs. Both postures are considered sloppy and the old babushkas will frown at you.

Also, in an Orthodox church, never hold your hands with the palms pressed together and the fingertips steepled. It's just not done. Fold your hands instead.

Hope I haven't scared you... there are just little local customs sometimes that people are funny about.

Leetle M.

Michael said...

No, not at all.

Thank you, both. I want to be able to be comfortable, and that includes knowing what may cause upset and start me off on the wrong foot with folk, so that I can avoid doing it.

I'm glad to hear that the Orthodox don't press their hands together with their fingers sticking out as though about to dive into a pool. It is something that is frowned upon within my own tradition - the English Catholic rites (Sarum, York, Bangor &c.) had none of this business and it is something that I do not do, and that I train my servers not to do. Aside from anything else, although the person doing it may feel that this looks reverent and pious, and prevents the hands from fidgeting, from the perspective of anybody else, it looks rather prissy and mechanical in my opinion, and I feel that there are much more natural-looking ways to prevent fidgeting.

As for the avoidance of hands clasped behind the back or crossed legs, that advice will come in extremely useful. Thank you again.


Michael said...

An afterthought:

I shall be going to the church on Saturday morning to help prepare for Pascha, while speaking with the parish priest, and he has graciously offered to exend his hospitality to me as a host, to save me making the 40 mile train journey (three trains) home at night, only to return in the morning.

What would be an appropriate gift for my host?

Fr. Philip. said...

Well as he is a priest and wont have eaten any for about 6weeks a small selection of cheese would be DELICIOUS! (If, of course, he likes cheese!)

|Have a happy and holy Pascha. My first time in an Orthodox church was Pascha in about 1981. I remember being tired, a little confused but immensely exhilarated by the experience. I knew in my heart then (as I knew in my head before) that I had found the Pearl of Great Price, the Treasure Hidden in a Field and that I needed to have it.

God bless you! Try and rememeber that the Bosphorus is a busy and damngerous river ... it is better to accept a lift across it than to try and swim it by yourself.

The unworthy priest,
Fr. Philip.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Philip said,

"God bless you! Try and rememeber that the Bosphorus is a busy and damngerous river ... it is better to accept a lift across it than to try and swim it by yourself."

Oh! How true that is! It looks, Michael, as if you have a wonderful priest at the Orthodox Church to take care of you--that's great.

I also remembered that if your Orthodox priest is married, some flowers for his wife might not come amiss.

Meanwhile, I think this Orthodox priest will be your "lifeguard" or maybe "water wings" when you swim in the tempestuous Bosphorus!

Remember not to dive in immediately after eating. :)

Leetle M.

Anonymous said...

Please excuse a little anecdote to make Fr. Philip smile since he remembers "being tired, a little confused but immensely exhilarated by the experience".

We took some interested Presbyterian friends to the Paschal Liturgy once and when it was all over, they just stood there with their jaws dropped and their mouths wide open. "What Happened???!!!" they asked.

Leetle M.

Merseymike said...

I don't want to sound critical - but doesn't it ever seriously cross your mind that the whole thing is simply faddish, traditionalist nonsense?

I walked out of my church at Friday's AGM and I don't intend to go back. may look for somewhere else but I also think that organised religion is essentially institutionalised control, and I have thought that 'traditional' Christian doctrines are largely nonsensical for a long time

The Modern Churchpersons Union and the Sea of Faith talk some sense, but as for all this formulaic dressing up - ludicrous play-acting based on fantasy.

Michael said...

No, I don't think that the whole thing is faddish, traditionalist nonsense.

I'm sorry that you have felt the need to leave your church, but your comments of negativity here and elsewhere are becoming rather wearisome now. I understand that you are also on a journey of faith, and that there is a lot going on in your mind as you think about all of this more and more. You clearly feel that you need an outlet for these thoughts. Perhaps you could start a blog.

Anonymous said...

Christ is Risen! Truly Risen!

Love in His Glorious Resurrection,

Leetle M.