Pascha, the Pascha of the Lord! How We Celebrated the Feast of Feasts
Brightly and joyously have we celebrated Pascha with all of our sisterhood at the monastery metochion in honor of the All-Merciful Savior and the Most Holy Theotokos. This day is ever-new, ever-special. Everything is different today: our church in honor of St. Catherine became the Lord's Tomb, and we ourselves are no more just sisters or just pilgrims but the myrrhbearers who came to the Tomb to hear that "He is not here – He resurrected"...
One has to prepare for this beautiful moment. At 22:45 the reading of the Acts of the Apostles begins. The Shroud is still in the middle of the church, it is just a short while before it would be solemnly brought into the altar and the celebration of Christ's Resurrection begins.
The Church is adorned for Pascha: a ball out of flowers is hanged up above. The icon of the Resurrection of Christ is adorned with a fragrant wreath of red roses. Sisters decorate the church with great inspiration; it is one of their favorite obediences for them.
Placed next to the altar are the artos loaves that we would be carrying daily at the cross processions up until the Bright Saturday.
The candles that we would be carrying at the cross procession have already been prepared; the abbess will distribute them as we come to her to get the blessing.
Then at midnight the festive Paschal cross procession begins. Holding the candles and singing "Thy Resurrection, o Christ, our Savior, the Angels in Heaven sing," we go around the church.
Behind the closed doors of the church, for the first time the joyous exclamation "Christ is Risen!" resounds.
At the Paschal service in the church it was bright as in broad daylight – from the glare of the candles. The sisters-chanters sang with such inspiration – because there is nothing more beautiful than the Paschal Canon!
The Paschal service seemed too short, as if it lasted just five minutes and not the three hours...
The Paschal service at the church of St. Alexander Nevsky in Zelenaya Roshcha was grandiose and festive.