My life has had a lot of ups and downs over the past half a year or so. I currently feel exhausted, and I don’t think I have the right mental state to write a detailed article or to even gather information from the internet and mix it into an article about Orthodox Easter.
I invite you to read about the holiday in the previous years’ articles (2019 and 2020), and I wish you a blessed Orthodox Easter (Pascha), filled with joy for Christ’s resurrection from the dead, and with gratitude for everything He has done for us.
Silouan the Athonite (Russian: Силуан Афонский) also sometimes referred to as Silouan of Athos, Saint Silvanus the Athonite or Staretz Silouan (January 17, 1866 – September 24, 1938) was an Eastern Orthodox monk of Russian origin, born Simeon Ivanovich Antonov who was a poet and monk of the St. Panteleimon Monastery.
In the following video, Fr. Angelo Maggos from the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church offers us a detailed presentation of the origin and significance of the word “AMEN” in Christianity. If you were interested in finding out what “Amen” means and why Christians use this word at the end of the prayers, I invite you to watch it.
Eastern-Orthodoxy observes the Feast Day of Saints Constantin and Helen every year on May 21st.
Saint Constantine was born in 272, the son of Constantius Chlorus, ruler of the western part of the Roman Empire. His mother was St Helen.
After his father death, in 306, St. Constantine was proclaimed successor to the throne. The empire was ruled at that time by several Caesars, each with his own territory.
When Constantine learned that the Caesars Maxentius and Maximinus had joined against him, he marched on Italy, where, on the eve of a decisive battle outside Rome, he saw in the sky a radiant Cross with the words “In this sign conquer.” He ordered that a battle-standard be made bearing the image of a cross and inscribed with the Name of Jesus Christ.
The following day he and his forces attacked and won a spectacular victory. He entered Rome in triumph and in 312 was proclaimed “Emperor of the West” by the Senate. The East was ruled by his brother-in-law, Licinius. Soon thereafter he issued his “Edict of Milan”, whereby Christianity was officially tolerated for the first time, and persecution of Christians ceased. (Many believe, mistakenly, that the Edict made Christianity the only legal religion; in fact, it proclaimed freedom of religion throughout the Empire).
Licinius, though he pretended to accept the Edict, soon began persecuting Christians in his domain. In response, Constantine fought and defeated him in 324, becoming sole Emperor of the entire Roman Empire. In 324 he laid the foundations of a new capital in the town of Byzantium; in 330 he inaugurated the new capital city, naming it “New Rome” and “Constantinople”. In 325 he called the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea, attending its sessions himself. Shortly before his repose in 337, he received Holy Baptism; he died on Holy Pentecost, at the age of sixty-five, and was interred in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople.
St. Constantine’s holy mother Helen, in her role as “Augusta” of the Empire, founded countless churches. She traveled to Jerusalem and found the True Cross on which the Lord was crucified. In the Holy Land she established churches at the sites of Christ’s Nativity and burial, which still stand today in much-modified form. She died at about eighty years of age.
Orthodox Easter in 2020 is on Sunday, April 19. In Orthodoxy, this day is called Pascha.
While Pascha and the western Easter are both calculated using the same formula, the end dates often differ because they have different starting points. Orthodox Churches still use the Julian calendar as the starting point for the Pascha calculation.
While the majority of Orthodox Churches adopted the modern Gregorian calendar, some retained the Julian. To maintain unity within the entire church, all Orthodox celebrate the feast of feasts on the same day throughout the world.
The old Julian solar calendar is 13 days behind the Gregorian’s at
the moment and its lunar calendar is four to five days behind, causing
the date for Pascha to often fall on a different date to that of Easter.
While Pascha normally falls either one or five weeks later than
Easter, on occasion they can be four weeks apart and on some years the
dates of Pascha and Easter coincide. The dates coincided most recently
in 2017 and the next coincidence will be in 2025.
Pascha is the most joyous celebration of the entire year, as the community gathers together to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Except that, this year, in many Orthodox countries, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, people are prohibited from attending the liturgies and from gathering together in large numbers in any public places. Nevertheless, we can gather together in spirit and be united in prayer from our homes.
Palm Sunday, also called the Triumphal Entry, is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on the Sunday before Pascha. This year it falls on April 12. Palm Sunday is the day when the Orthodox Church celebrates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in the days before the Jewish Passover. A mere few days before His crucifixion, Jesus Christ was received by adoring throngs at his entry into Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey.
The believers meet him, and spread out before him his clothes and olive branches. When He and His disciples approached the city Jerusalem, He ordered them to go to the near-by village, and bring him the donkey and his little who were tied-up in the beginning of the village. If they were asked, they should say that the Lord needs it. When the people knew that the donkey was for Jesus, they did not prevent his disciples. They gave Him the donkey, and He solemnly entered Jerusalem. The news of the resurrection of Lazarus already got ahead and thousands of people went to Bethany to meet him.
The date of the saint is somewhat uncertain. The Bollandists place her death on 1 April, 421, while many other authorities put it a century later. The Greek Church celebrates her feast on 1 April, while the Roman Martyrology assigns it to 2 April, and the RomanCalendar to 3 April. The Greek date is more likely to be correct; the others may be due to the fact that on those days portions of her relics reached the West. Relics of the saint are venerated at Rome, Naples, Cremona, Antwerp, and some other places. In The Orthodox Church, she is also commemorated on the fifth Sunday in Great Lent due to her recognition by the Church as a model of repentance.
When she was 12 years old, she moved from Egypt to the city of Alexandria and worked as a prostitute for 17 years. She joined a large group that was making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the feast of The Exaltation of The Holy Cross. With the intention of luring others into sexual sin, she followed the crowd as it was headed to the Church in order to venerate the relic of The True Cross. When she got near the door of the church, a mysterious force prevented her from entering, pushing her back whenever she approached. After trying to enter several times, Mary moved to a corner of the churchyard and was filled with a sense of remorse for her sins. As she was crying, she saw a statue of The Virgin Mary and she prayed to The Holy Mother for the permission to enter the church for the purpose of venerating the relic. She promised the Virgin Mother, she would renounce the world and its ways. Mary of Egypt was then able to enter the church, as the mysterious force no longer held her back. After she venerated the relic, she returned to the statue outside and prayed for guidance. She heard a voice telling her to cross the Jordan river and then she would find rest. She did as told and arrived at the Jordan, where she received communion at a church dedicated to St. John The Baptist. The next day she crossed the river and lived in the desert alone for 47 years. Then, while making his Lenten retreat, a priest named Zosimus found her. She asked him to return to the banks of the Jordan on Holy Thursday of the following year and to bring her Communion. The priest was true to his word and returned bearing the Eucharist. Mary told him to come back again the next year, but to the place where he had originally met her. When Zosimus returned in a year’s time, he found Mary’s corpse. On the ground beside it was a written request that she be buried accompanied by a statement that she had died the previous year, in 421 A.D., on the very night she had received Holy Communion.