Post date: Jun 14, 2013 4:41:23 PM
When we think about fasting we tend to think about periods of time. We think about Great Lent and its seven-week journey, including Holy Week, to the feast of Pascha, we think perhaps about Advent, and perhaps about the fifteen days of August with its strict fast. When we think about feasts, however, we tend to think about individual points in time. We think about the Sunday of Pascha, the day of Christmas, the day of the Dormition. And yet in the Orthodox Church, feasts are also celebrated over a period of time.
Sometimes we may remember the twelve days of Christmas, which begin on December 25 and end with the feast of Theophany on January 6. I was asked once about the reason for the celebrations in Greece on August 23 – that is the leave-taking (apodosis), the final day of celebrating the Dormition of the Theotokos and the services for that day are the same as they were for the feast day itself.
I am mentioning this now because this week we have the leave-taking of Pascha. We have been celebrating the Resurrection for forty days. We recognize that by our greeting one another with “Christ is risen” and responding “Truly, He is risen!” throughout the period. This all is reaffirmed in the services for the leave-taking, which next year I hope we can celebrate together. These services are like the services of Pascha. The doors of the altar are kept open, psalms are not read, we begin the services by chanting the ten-fold Christ is risen. So we end the celebration with the same joy and spirit with which we began forty days ago at the glorious feast of the resurrection. This is a beautiful custom of our church and I hope that we remember these feasts. I hope that we remember the periods of feasting – especially for Pascha, but also for the other great feasts – and that we are fed spiritually by the celebration of these feasts.
Let us celebrate the Dormition for all nine days, let us celebrate Christmas and Theophany for the entire period of the feasts, and let us finish our celebration of Pascha for this year by singing Christ is risen with joy as many times as our hearts desire on Wednesday morning, before we gather together for the services of the great feast of the Ascension of our Lord.
With love in the risen Christ,