UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Bright Monday Services in Detroit Metropolitan Area
Today the faithful once again gathered to celebrate the second day of Pascha at the Protection of the Birth-Giver of God Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Southfield, MI.
While we should all be exhausted, going for days on only hours of sleep....we were far from tired. In fact, we were energized...glowing from within.
In the last week, we've been anointed by our bishop - for the healing of both body and soul...that alone left us all feeling overjoyed, yet it also aroused within us a profound sense of awe...and stirred something that had laid dorment within our souls.
The feeling only got stronger, as on Thursday we commemorated the Mystical Supper and were present to hear the most profound prayers spoken by His Grace Bishop Daniel over the Gifts, which would be stored and used throughout the year to commune those who will not be able to come to Sunday Liturgy.
These deep feelings that were awoken within us, almost overcame a few of us, as His Grace humbly washed the feet of twelve men. He disrobed, tied on a towel and got down before each individual to wash his feet...just as Christ had.
That awesomeness was tainted with sorrow as in the darkened cathedral we all listened to the 12 Passion Gospels, reliving Christ's last days, suffering and crucifixion.
This sense of sorrow turned to mourning on Friday evening with the shroud laying in the middle of the nave, as Christ lay in His tomb. With heavy hearts, we all watched in amazement as Bishop Daniel walked to the back of the church, got on his knees and slowly crawled up towards the Holy Shroud. One by one, starting with the children who were always most willing to join the bishop, everyone got down on their knees and followed His Grace, making their own little sacrifice to God. You would have been amazed. With so many people present...and so many people praying at the same time, tears streaming down their cheeks...you would have thought the church would be filled with noise...but, it remained hushed....the only sound being the shuffling of the knees, and the sound of stifled tears, as most of the faithful were crying by the time they reached the Plashchanitisia.
With the darkened cathedral on Saturday evening....our sadness, and heavy spirits were lifted, as His Grace opened the Royal Gates and the darkened church, lights and candles extinguished, lit up, one candle at a time, one soul at a time, until everyone's faces glowed not only from the candlelight, but, from their spirits...from within.
His Grace Bishop Daniel seemed to almost float as he descended out of the Altar and headed straight outside, in to the pouring rain...not hesitating for a second. Even though we were all soaking wet, His Grace had a huge smile on his face as he turned to the crowd and proclaimed loudly "ХРИСТОС ВОСКРЕС" "CHRIST IS RISEN"!!! After that, nobody noticed the rain that was soaking them, nobody felt the water...as we all rejoiced and followed our Shepherd back in to the church to celebrate the newly Resurrected Christ...and our own salvation.
With spirits uplifted, we hardly noticed as the hours flew by. Surrounded by song, by exclamations, by kisses of peace, by friends, by warmth, by love...we all felt embraced, touched by the Holy Spirit.
Today, Bright Monday, the experience continued. His Grace Bishop Daniel served Divine Liturgy, assisted by three seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Bound Brook, NJ) Mykola Zomchak, Ihor Protsak and Mykhaylo Bokalo.
Hours later...we are all still smiling...still glowing...still feeling embraced, glowing from the inside out...wondering how are we supposed to come down off Cloud 9, and return to reality...back to work tomorrow.
However, we can still hear Bishop Daniel's sermon....when he instructed us to take this Light, this overwhelming joy...and go beyond the walls of the church building...and take the True Church...out to the world...to dispel any darkness we meet along the way...to bring joy to others...and to proclaim to all the world...CHRIST IS RISEN!!!!