Orthodox Holy Week 2018

St. Barbara Orthodox Christian Church
(March 31 – April 8)

On Saturday, March 31, Orthodox Christians will begin observing the most solemn of Days leading up to the celebration of Pascha on April 8:  Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday and Holy Week.  These nine days are specifically set aside –  consecrated – by the Church to commemorate the final and decisive events in the Lord’s earthly life.  Traditionally, during this time, Christians make an effort to “lay aside all earthly cares,” in order to devote themselves to contemplating the central Mysteries of the Faith:  the Cross, the Tomb and the Resurrection of Christ.  So significant is this period that some have stressed that during Holy Week “time seems to stand still or earthly life ceases for the faithful, as they go up with the Lord to Jerusalem” (Fr. Thomas Hopko).  May we all look upon the days ahead as sacred, dedicated to our Lord.

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Lazarus Saturday & Palm Sunday (March 31 & April 1)

These two days form a double feast, anticipating the joy of Pascha.  At the grave of His friend Lazarus, Christ encounters “the last enemy,” death (1 Cor. 15:26).  By raising Lazarus, Christ foreshadows His own decisive victory over death, and the universal resurrection granted to all mankind. Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, “riding on the colt of an ass,” in fulfillment of a prophecy from Zechariah (9:9).   On this occasion our Lord allows the people to greet Him as a Ruler, the only time during His earthly ministry when this occurs.  Christ is indeed the King of Israel, but He comes to reveal and open to mankind His Heavenly Kingdom.  We hold branches of palms and pussy willows of our own on Palm Sunday, greeting Christ as the Lord and Master of our lives. 

Liturgical services for these two days will be celebrated on Saturday morning at 10:00 am, Saturday evening at 6:30 pm, and Sunday morning at 10:00 am.  Palms will be blessed on Saturday night, the eve of Palm Sunday.

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Great  &  Holy  Monday,  Tuesday  &  Wednesday  (April  2 – April 4)

Having just experienced a foretaste of Pascha we now enter the darkness of Holy Week.  The first three days stress the End Times, the Judgment, and the continual need for vigilance.  They point to the fact that when the world condemned its Maker, it condemned itself, “Now is the judgment of this world” (John 12:31).  They remind us that the world’s rejection of Christ reflects our own rejection of Him, inasmuch as we sin and accept the worldview of those who shouted, “Away with Him, crucify Him!”  Central to the services for these days are the Gospel readings, and the hymns which comment on these lessons.  Among the chief hymns are the Exapostilarion, “Thy Bridal Chamber, I see adorned….,” and the following troparion sung during Matins as the Church is being censed:  “Behold!  The Bridegroom comes at midnight, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching:  and again, unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless. Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep, lest you be given up to death, and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom.  But rouse yourself, crying: “Holy! Holy! Holy! art Thou, O our God.  Through the Theotokos, have mercy on us!”  (Troparion)

Liturgical services for these three days will be celebrated at 7:00 pm.

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Great & Holy Thursday (April 5)

During the Matins Service or the Service of the 12 Passion Gospels on Holy Thursday night we “accompany Christ, step by step, from the time of His last discourse with His disciples to His being laid in a new tomb by Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus.  Each of the 12 Gospel sections read during the evening service involves us in a new scene:  the arrest of Jesus; His trial; the threefold denial of St. Peter; the scourging and the mockings by the soldiers; the carrying of the Cross; the Crucifixion; the opposing fates of the two thieves; the loving tenderness of the moment when Jesus commits His Mother to the care of His faithful disciple, John;  and the Lord’s final yielding up of the spirit and burial” (Fr. Paul Lazor). The liturgical hymnography for that night comments on the Gospel readings and gives the response of the Church to these events in the life of Christ.  During this service the faithful hold lit candles during the Gospel lessons while kneeling, and in large parishes Church bells are rung before each reading: once for the first reading, twice for the second, and so on.

The Matins Service at St. Barbara’s on Holy Thursday will be at 7:00 pm.

Great  &  Holy  Friday  (April 6)

On the one hand, this is the most solemn of days, the day of Christ’s Passion, His Death and Burial.  On this day the Church invites us, as we kneel before the tomb of Christ, to realize the awful reality and power of sin and evil in “this world,” and in our own lives as well.   It is this power that led ultimately to “the sin of all sins, the crime of all crimes” the total rejection and murder of God Himself (Fr. Alexander Schmemann).

On the other hand, the Church affirms that this day of evil is also the day of redemption.  “The death of Christ is revealed to us as a saving death, an offering of love” (Fr. Alexander Schmemann).  Holy Friday is the beginning of the Lord’s Pascha, for the One Who is raised, is the One Who is crucified for us and for our salvation.  “By death Christ tramples down death…”  Thus the tomb of Christ, placed in the center of the Church, is lavishly adorned with flowers, for from the tomb comes life.

Liturgical services for Holy Friday will take place at 2:00 pm and at 7:00 pm.

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The afternoon service is often referred to as “Burial Vespers.”  During its celebration the final events in the life of Christ are brought to mind through the scripture readings and the hymnography.  At the conclusion of Vespers the faithful kneel and the choir sings, in a very slow manner, the troparia for the day which speak of Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus burying the Body of Jesus; and the angel’s announcement to the Myrrhbearing Women that, “Myrrh is fitting for the dead, but Christ has shown Himself a stranger to corruption.”   As these words are heard the clergy and servers make a procession around the tomb with the “winding sheet” on which is an icon of the crucified Lord. This winding sheet is placed on top of the tomb and venerated by the faithful.

On Friday night a Matins service is celebrated during which the people sing hymns and lamentations in front of Christ’s tomb.  We hear about how, “hell trembles while Life lies in the tomb, giving life to those who lie dead in the tombs.”  We also begin to hear announcements and foreshadowings of the Resurrection in both the scripture readings and hymns.  In fact, the Alleluia verses chanted after the Epistle reading are the same Resurrectional verses from Psalm 68 chanted by the clergy on Pascha night:  “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered, let those who hate Him flee from before His face..” (etc.)

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Great & Holy Saturday (April 7)

On the morning of this day, at 9:00 am, we will celebrate the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil.  This service “inaugurates the Paschal celebration…”  On ‘Lord I Call Upon Thee’ certain Sunday Resurrection hymns are sung, followed by special verses for Holy Saturday which stress the Death of Christ as the descent into Hades, the region of death, for its destruction.

"A pivotal point of the service occurs after the Entrance, when fifteen Old Testament lessons are read, all centered on the promise of the Resurrection, all glorifying the ultimate Victory of God…The epistle lesson is that which is read at Baptisms (Romans 6:3-11), referring to Christ’s Death and Resurrection as the source of the death in us of the “old man,” and the resurrection of the new man, whose life is in the Risen Lord  (Here we must remember that Pascha has always been the most traditional time for Baptisms of catechumens).  During the verses immediately after the epistle reading the dark Lenten vestments and altar coverings are put aside and the clergy vest in their brightest robes.  An announcement of the Resurrection is then read from the last chapter of St. Matthew”s Gospel.   The Liturgy of St. Basil continues in this white and joyful light, revealing the Tomb of Christ as the Life-giving Tomb, introducing us into the ultimate reality of Christ’s Resurrection, communicating His life to us…”  (Fr. Schmemann). 

It should be noted that on Great and Holy Saturday every major act of the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil takes place in front of the Tomb, or processes around it:  the Small Entrance; the 15 Old Testament readings;  the Epistle and Gospel readings;  the Great Entrance;  the distribution of Holy Communion;  and the final dismissal prayer. 

Pascha (April 8)

The Main Resurrection service will begin at 11:30 pm on Saturday night (We ask that everyone try to arrive at least 15 minutes early, those with food even earlier, so that we can begin the service promptly with all lights out in the Church).  This particular service is actually comprised of three services, celebrated together, one after another:  Nocturnes, Matins and the Divine Liturgy.  The entire round of services ends around 2:30 am on Sunday morning and is followed by the blessing of Pascha baskets and the Agape Meal, at which we enjoy fellowship and partake of many non-lenten foods.

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Special features of the Midnight Service include:  Nocturnes (11:30 pm to 12:00 midnight) celebrated in total darkness with only one light for the choir, followed by a triple procession around the outside of the Church, a Resurrection Gospel reading and the first announcement of, “Christ is Risen!”  The Paschal Matins then begins during which the Church is brightly lit and the faithful sing of Christ’s Resurrection in a very joyous manner. Near the end of Matins the Paschal Catechetical Sermon of St. John Chrysostom is read.  During the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom the Gospel from the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel is chanted in several languages, symbolic of the universal character of the Christian Faith.  Immediately after the service food for the Agape Meal is blessed, as well as Pascha (Easter) baskets full of non-fasting foods.

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On Sunday afternoon, April 8, at 12:00 noon, we return to the Church to celebrate Resurrection Vespers during which we hear a Gospel reading and more hymns of Christ’s Resurrection.  A continuation of the Agape Meal will be enjoyed after Vespers.

Bright Week (April 9 – April 14)

The week immediately after Pascha is an extended celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection.  Although we enjoy a 40 day Paschal season, the services of Bright Week are uniquely joyous, reflecting the specific tone and spirit of Pascha night.  Divine Liturgies and Vespers celebrated during this time are very similar to those of April 8.  There is, as well, no fasting during Bright Week.  We look forward to celebrating Pascha with all of our Church members and friends.  Once again, we encourage everyone to set aside the days ahead as sacred, dedicated to our Lord.

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

February 2018 Announcements

35th Annual Pysanky Festival and Pysanky Classes

On Friday and Saturday, March 16 and 17 our parish will host its 35th ANNUAL PYSANKY (Ukrainian Easter Egg) FESTIVAL.  This much anticipated event will be a milestone in our parish’s history.  For three and a half decades the Pysanky Festival has been an excellent outreach activity introducing neighbors to the community of St. Barbara’s.  In the early days members of the Church would take their decorative eggs to local malls and to May Fest.  Later, sales efforts were moved onsite to the Church itself.  This new venue provided the Festival a decorative and warm environment in which to welcome guests and offer tours of the Church. 

Hours of the sale are:  Friday, March 16, from 9 am to 6 pm, and Saturday, March 17, from 9 am to 5 pm.  Please plan now to notify family members and friends about this unique event.  Please plan as well to help work the sale itself if at all possible. We will be in need of greeters, egg packagers, cashiers, hosts, and tour providers.  No experience is necessary!  A SIGN-UP Sheet will be set up in the near future so that we may coordinate everyone’s availability. 

The Festival is early this year due to the early date of Western Easter, and to the Orthodox Church's liturgical cycle (Note:  the 2nd weekend prior to Western Easter generally provides the best chance for the most possible visitors).   

The Festival itself features intricately decorated chicken, goose, and ostrich eggs with traditional Ukrainian Pysanky motifs:  prices range from $10 to $850.  In addition, skilled craftsmen demonstrate this wonderful and ancient folk art during the two-day event.  We also have available other Pysanky supplies, instructional books and related gift items.

Pysanky Classes, open to the Public and to Church members, will take place at 7:00 pm on consecutive weeks, following Pascha and Orthodox Bright Week.  Classes will be held on April 17 and 19, and on April 24 and 26 to accommodate as many people as possible during this, our 35th Year.   Should you have any questions please contact Matushka Christine Zebrun, our Festival Chairperson.  Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

Chili and Cornbread Competition Results

On Sunday, January 28, immediately after the Divine Liturgy, St. Barbara's conducted its Annual Chili and Cornbread Competition.   Those who placed in the Chili Cookoff were:  1st Place, David Stepich;  2nd Place, Zach Lueth;  3rd Place, Peter and Christina Drauden.  In the Cornbread Competition:  1st Place, Tiera Lueth;  2nd Place, Kate Stepich;  3rd Place, Melinda Bowman.  Congratulations to the winners, and a big thank you to all of our competitors for making our Coffee Hour on January 28, something to remember.  Thank you also to everyone to brought side dishes, and to our Chili Cookoff Coordinator, Mrs. Lynn Powers for her efforts in hosting and arranging this wonderful event.     

Baptisms in February

We are pleased to announce six upcoming Baptisms on the eve of the Sunday of Orthodoxy.  Peter, Kacey, Joanna, Rebecca and Leah Blaisdell, as well as Les Nicholson will be received into the Church through Baptism on Saturday, February 24 at 3:30 pm.  We invite everyone to be with us for this joyful event.  Many years to Les and to the Blaisdell’s!

A New Book Study on Prayer

We are pleased to announce a new Adult and Teen Book Study focusing on Metropolitan Anthony Bloom’s, “Beginning to Pray.”  This relatively brief work (106 pages) has been referred to as a modern spiritual classic.  In an easy to read, yet engaging style, the Metropolitan addresses many of the questions asked – at one time or another – by any person setting out to encounter the Living God through the art of prayer.  Copies of the book are available in our bookstore for $10.00.  We will conduct the classes on Beginning to Pray, Wednesday nights after services beginning February 21.  We will return, however, to our normal midweek topics immediately after Pascha.  Please join us for the new Book Study starting Wednesday, Feb. 21. 

St. Barbara Building Program Update

In the near future the St. Barbara Council and Building Committee will meet with the parish architect, Michael Hoffer, to discuss final renderings of the proposed designs and site plans for the new Church.  After this meeting we hope to set a date for a Special One Topic Parish Meeting, offering the proposal(s) for everyone’s consideration and approval.

During the Parish Meeting on Sunday, January 28, we provided a four-page handout to those present outlining a two-year time frame of activities, and describing the thought process leading up to the current design(s).  A total of eighteen people from the congregation have contributed officially to design efforts in their capacity as members of the Building Committee and/or Council.  Multiple copies of the aforementioned handouts are available on the table in the Church’s narthex.  We ask that everyone please review this material over the next couple of weeks.  It provides very helpful information that will facilitate discussions greatly during the upcoming Parish Meeting. 

Mississippi Pastoral Conference

This year’s Diocesan-wide Pastoral Conference will be held Tuesday through Thursday, February 13-15.  Our host parish will be Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Jackson/Clinton, Mississippi.  With travel time, Fr. Basil will be gone from Monday morning February 12 through Friday night, February 16.  In case of an emergency during that period please notify Fr. Nicholas at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Ft. Worth, Fr. Vasile at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Euless, or Fr. Mark at St. Peter Antiochian Orthodox Church in Ft. Worth. 

Special Lenten Services and Confessions

We wish to invite everyone to make room on their schedules for the special Lenten services coming up, as well as for Holy Week Services. For Orthodox Christians, Pascha is celebrated quite early this year on Sunday, April 8.  Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday and Holy Week services begin on Saturday, March 31, with services conducted every day during the nine day period.

In addition, throughout the Fast we celebrate each Wednesday evening (except February 21) the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.  During the first week of Lent the Penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete is celebrated Monday through Thursday, and on the fifth week of Lent on Thursday, March 22.    

We also want to encourage everyone to arrange times for Confessions prior to Holy Week so that liturgical preparations and other practical considerations immediately before Pascha will be conducted as smoothly as possible. 

Church School and General Confession

This month's Church School will meet on Saturday, February 10, at 4:00 pm.   General Confession will be conducted on Wednesday, February 7, at 6:00 pm.

2018 Calendars and Pocket Planners

The 2018 Orthodox Wall Calendars are in and available for $5.00 each.  Pocket Planners are also available for $4.00.  The Calendars as well as the Planners contain much helpful information for the year. Both include lists of fasts and feasts.  The Planners also provide future dates during the next few years for Pre-Lent, Lent, Pascha, Ascension and Pentecost. Both are available on a side table at the front of the Church.