Jeremy Sellew – 3/5/13
Orthodox Christians around the Mon Valley will be celebrating their holiest of holidays this weekend.
Sunday marks the Easter holiday on the Julian calendar.
“The Orthodox use the Julian calendar, while other religions use the Gregorian calendar,” said the Rev. Fred Pfeil, pastor of Monessen’s St. Michael Orthodox Church.
“It is indeed confusing for some, why there are two different days. Next year, both fall on the same day.”
Great and Holy Friday services began 9 a.m. today with the Royal Hours. At 3 p.m., the Unnailing Vespers will take place with the Lamentations at 6:30 p.m.
“I don’t like to dwell on the ethnic thing,” Pfeil said. “Every Sunday that we worship is considered to be a little Easter.”
At 11 p.m., the 65 parishioners of St. Michael will celebrate Pascha, the Greek version of the Jewish Passover. Each person receives a candle and the church is darkened, Pfeil said.
“It’s a sight to see,” he added.
Pfeil said that once the church is darkened, he emerges from the altar with one lit candle with which everyone worshipping lights their candles as Pfeil sings the words, “Come take light from the light that is never overtaken by night…”
“We assume that when Christ burst out of the tomb there is a burst of light,” Pfeil said.
After the candles are lit, the parishioners will move outside of the church, where Pfeil will read the gospel announcing Christ’s resurrection, “Christ is risen from the dead trampling down death by death … and the palm goes in the tombs and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”
“This is the song for all Orthodox Christians,” said Pfeil, beginning to chuckle. “No matter where you’re from. Now, we all use different tombs, those are the words that are sung.”
The services conclude Sunday with the Agape Vespers, in which the gospel reading depicts the first appearance of Christ, after resurrection, to his disciples.
St. Michael Orthodox is located at 1201 Patton Ave.
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2667.