Pascha at St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, IL!


Pascha at St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, IL!

Holy Week came to an end at sunset of Great and Holy Saturday, as the Church prepared to celebrate her most ancient and preeminent festival, Pascha, the feast of feasts. The time of preparation gave way to a time of fulfillment. The glorious and respondent light emanating from the empty Tomb dispelled the darkness.

Christ, risen from the dead, cracks the fortress of death and takes "captivity captive" (Psalm 67:19). All the limitations of our createdness are torn asunder. Death is swallowed up in victory and life is liberated. "For as by a man came death, by a man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Corinthians 15:21-22). Pascha is the dawn of the new and unending day. The Resurrection constitutes the most radical and decisive deliverance of humankind.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the fundamental truth and absolute fact of the Christian faith. It is the central experience and essential kerygma of the Church. It confirms the authenticity of Christ's remarkable earthly life and vindicates the truth of His teaching. It seals all His redemptive work: His life, the model of a holy life; His compelling and unique teaching; His extraordinary works; and His awesome, life-creating death. Christ's Resurrection is the guarantee of our salvation. Together with His Ascension it brings to perfection God's union with us for all eternity.

The Resurrection made possible the miracle of the Church, which in every age and generation proclaims and affirms "God's plan for the universe, the ultimate divinization of man and the created order." The profound experience of and the unshakable belief in the risen Lord enabled the Apostles to evangelize the world and empowered the Church to overcome paganism. The Resurrection discloses the indestructible power and inscrutable wisdom of God. It disposes of the illusory myths and belief systems by which people, bereft of divine knowledge, strain to affirm the meaning and purpose of their existence. Christ, risen and glorified, releases humanity from the delusions of idolatry. In Him grave-bound humanity discovers and is filled with incomparable hope. The Resurrection bestows illumination, energizes souls, brings forgiveness, transfigures lives, creates saints, and gives joy.

With such spiritual understanding of the most profound feast of the Church year, the faithful of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, IL came together to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His Grace Bishop Daniel, the ruling hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA, walked out of the sanctuary of the cathedral with the Paschal candle chanting in unison with clergy: Your Resurrection O Christ our Lord… The procession around the Church… Then came the breathless moment as the people waited for the bishop and the clergy to start the hymn of Resurrection, which they join him in singing, repeatedly: "Christ is Risen from the Dead, trampling death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life,” and then the glorious and most joyful exclamation: Christ is Risen! Христос Воскрес! 

From this moment the entire service took on a joyous Pascha atmosphere. The hymns of the Odes and Praises of Resurrection which follow, which were sang by St. Volodymyr cathedral's choir under the direction of Volodymyr Popowych, are of superb meaning and expression. The people confessed, "It is the Day of Resurrection, let us be glorious, let us embrace one another and speak to those that hate us; let us forgive all things and so let us cry, Christ has arisen from the dead". By this hymn they admitted that love of one's fellowman is the solid foundation of the faith in the Resurrection of Christ.

The bishop, assisted by the pastor of the cathedral community Archimadrite Pankratij, Protodeacon Mykola Dilendorf and Deacon Andriy Fronchak led the Pascha Vigil liturgical services beginning at 11:30PM on Saturday night, entering together with the cathedral parish community of hundreds of people into the joy of the Resurrection of Christ! During the Pascha Liturgy, the bishop elevated Deacon Andriy Fronchak to a rank of a Protodeacon. At the end of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom Bishop Daniel blessed the traditional Pascha baskets filled of Pascha bread (paskas), eggs, meats, cheese, etc.

With the chanting of the Paschal tropar and a joyful exclamation Christ is Risen! Христос Воскрес!, the faithful departed the cathedral temple sharing with each other the joy of our Lord's Resurrection.

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