Pascha At Home

So, if you’ve been following much, you know that I am pretty badly injured, and driving is a problem right now. So let’s add to that the very rainy day, the very dark skies, my bad vision, bald tires, and engine “issues.” It’s just not safe or feasible for us to drive to church tonight. We were so sad. We absolutely live for Pascha. It’s our favorite. My son, who wants to be a priest when he grows up, can often be found knocking on doors, so that “the King of Glory may enter in!” (And all year, I must ask him “Who is this King of Glory?” from the other side of my bedroom door.)

At random points throughout the year, he asks for The Homily.  That only means one thing. He wants the Paschal Homily of Saint John Chrysostom. “Hell received a body and encountered God. It received earth and confronted heaven. Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh hell, where is thy victory?”

We live, basically from Pascha to Pascha, awaiting the Resurrection service.

But we can’t go. It’s just not safe this year.

Perhaps it will be safer for the Agape Vespers.

So I am digging through what I have, and finding the Reader Service for Pascha so we can celebrate at home.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from our Pascha Garden, and the text of The Homily! Pray for us, please.

If any be a devout lover of God,
  let him partake with gladness from this fair and radiant feast.
If any be a faithful servant,
  let him enter rejoicing into the joy of his Lord.
If any have wearied himself with fasting,
  let him now enjoy his reward.
If any have laboured from the first hour,
  let him receive today his rightful due.
If any have come after the third,
  let him celebrate the feast with thankfulness.
If any have come after the sixth,
  let him not be in doubt, for he will suffer no loss.
If any have delayed until the ninth,
  let him not hesitate but draw near.
If any have arrived only at the eleventh,
  let him not be afraid because he comes so late.

For the Master is generous and accepts the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour
  in the same was as him who has laboured from the first.
He accepts the deed, and commends the intention.

Enter then, all of you, into the joy of our Lord.
First and last, receive alike your reward.
Rich and poor, dance together.
You who fasted and you who have not fasted, rejoice together.
The table is fully laden: let all enjoy it.
The calf is fatted: let none go away hungry.

Let none lament his poverty;
  for the universal Kingdom is revealed.
Let none bewail his transgressions;
  for the light of forgiveness has risen from the tomb.
Let none fear death;
  for death of the Saviour has set us free.

He has destroyed death by undergoing death.
He has despoiled hell by descending into hell.
He vexed it even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he cried:
Hell was filled with bitterness when it met Thee face to face below;
  filled with bitterness, for it was brought to nothing;
  filled with bitterness, for it was mocked;
  filled with bitterness, for it was overthrown;
  filled with bitterness, for it was put in chains.
Hell received a body, and encountered God. It received earth, and confronted heaven.
O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?

Christ is risen! And you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is risen! And the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is risen! And the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen! And life is liberated!
Christ is risen! And the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power, now and forever, and from all ages to all ages.


The Pascha Garden

600931_10200107875242184_353700498_nMy friends, I am overwhelmed by the emails I have gotten since my last post. So many words of encouragement and offers of prayer! It’s certainly been a difficult week. My boy finally started processing Kearney’s death on Tuesday night, so there have been many tears and much talking and praying. Necessity dictated lots of extra snuggles as well, which I will never turn down.

My arm is healing, but it feels so slow. I know it’s only been a week, and it can take up to sixteen weeks for this tendon to heal, but I feel so useless sometimes. I shouldn’t, I suppose, but it’s part of the process. My leg is infected, and my arm needed subcutaneous stitches at Monday’s appointment. At today’s appointment, it was no better, and I needed still more antibiotics. I go back again on Monday. Hopefully after THAT appointment, I will be cleared to take the shower I want so desperately. No amount of sponge-bathing leaves you feeling as clean as even a five-minute shower! Please continue to keep me in your prayers. I heal slowly to start with, and this is pretty major, I suppose.

We were able to go to church last night for Holy Unction. I love Holy Week so much! I am a bit sad that I am not able to be there much this year, but I live an hour from any Orthodox church (and, in fact, I live almost exactly an hour from no less than seven Orthodox churches!), and making the drive with my arm is not very wise if it can be avoided. So this year, we are doing something extra-special at home. In fact, I think this may be the start of a family tradition.

My poor young botanist’s flower bed has not been doing well. We have ONE sunflower and a few blue flax sprouting, but nothing else. I knew that was highly likely, since we didn’t have time to really prepare the ground, and we didn’t have a lot of soil to put down. But he was sad. He’s sad about his dog, and he’s sad about his injured mama, and he’s sad about his flowers. I can’t fix the first two, but I could do something about the third.

So, today, we went window shopping at the garden center, just to get an idea of what we might want to plant eventually. We ran into our neighbor and my son’s best friend there, and they offered to let him come over and play for a while. PERFECT OPPORTUNITY! I had been needing to find a time for someone else to watch my boy so I could sneak out and buy him presents for his basket! (just a note: He got a huge basket with candy, toys, and books at my parents’ Easter picnic a month ago, so I was planning on a small toy or two, maybe a Cadbury egg, and something we could do together. Lately, that means gardening, building, or painting.)

I went through the garden center on my own, lingering at the sale tables, and I hatched a plan. Then I went to find soil. I came back with a gusto, grabbing flats and quarts like a woman on a mission.

Did you know? There is NO good way to hide a bunch of flowers in a tiny little house for three nights without killing them.

So “Peter the Pascha Rabbit” came early to visit my son. He asked him to plant a Pascha garden, and to pray as he plants.

He has Joseph’s Coat for the prophets, marigold for the Theotokos, white gardenias for Christ and His Resurrection, some beautiful red flowers (whose name escapes me) for Christ’s humanity and death on the Cross, and some purple and blue petunias for His divinity (and I believe I remember reading that the purple also represents His Passion).  Three of the plants creep and spread to show how we should spread the Gospel.  He’s got an angel garden statue already, and while I was browsing online looking for a garden cross, I got another neat idea:

I am going to decoupage an icon or two to go in the Pascha Garden! I have instructions on decoupaging for outdoor use, and I am ready to go (once I figure out what I am decoupaging onto….)

Which icon(s) should we use? Leave me your suggestions!

Pray for us! God willing, we are going to try to plant in the morning before the rain moves in. Then I imagine I will promptly be taking pain meds and a nap.