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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center

Holy and Glorious Pascha Preparation - Great and Holy Saturday

Fasting and Feasting

Holy Saturday is a day of strict fasting until the Vespers of Pascha. Feasting begins after the Vespers, which is about mid-day. Many Churches delay the Vespers until evening.

All services in Great and Holy Week are moved ahead 12 hours.

The reason is probably to make the services more convenient for the people to attend.

Liturgical Serviceof what Liturgical DayHeld on what Calendar DayTime held
Royal Hours (Great Hours)of Great and Holy Saturdayon Great and Holy Fridayearly morning, often 9 am
Vespers - Jesus' decent from the crossof Great and Holy Saturdayon Great and Holy Fridaylate morning
Matins - Funeral of Jesus Christ, the Lamentations (Junnaaz al-Maseeh)of Great and Holy Saturdayon Great and Holy Fridayevening
Vespers - Lighting of the New Fire; Divine Liturgy of Our Father among the Saints Basilof Holy and Glorious Paschaon Great and Holy Saturdaymorning
Matins - Hajmeh; Procession of Triumph; First Announcement of the Resurrection; Paschal Orthros; Divine Liturgy of Our Father among the Saints Basil the Great for Paschaof Holy and Glorious Paschaon Great and Holy Saturdayevening

Royal Hours (Great Hours) of Great and Holy Saturday is celebrated on Great and Holy Friday often 9 a.m. or noon

Special prayers are said and special sections of the Old and New Testament are read.

We stand in front of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ crucified. We think about God's love for us and Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ's suffering for us.

On the eves of major feast days, the service of the Hours took on an especially solemn character. In the great Cathedral of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) in Constantinople, the Emperor, the choirs or monks, the clergy, and the faithful came together to recite these prayers and to hear special readings appointed for the particular Feast.

Vespers (Descent from the cross and burial) of Great and Holy Saturday is celebrated on Great and Holy Friday morning

Vespers commemorates the taking down of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ's body from the Cross and His burial. The Body of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ is removed from the Holy Cross and placed in the tomb.

The priest reads the Gospel. Then, the reenactment of the Body of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ being removed from the Holy Cross and being placed in the tomb takes place. The priest takes down the Crucified Body, wraps it in a shroud, and places it in the Tomb decorated with flowers, while the choir sings this magnificent hymn: "O you put on light as a robe, when Joseph with Nicodemus brought you down from the wood and saw you dead, naked, and unburied, he wept in lamentation and said, 'Woe is me, O sweetest Jesus! When the sun beheld you hung on the cross, it was shrouded in darkness. The earth was shaken in fear and the curtain of the temple was torn asunder. I see you now willingly enduring death for me. How then shall I array you, O my God? How shall I place you in the shroud? How can I touch your spotless body? Or what dirges shall I sing for your funeral, O Merciful One? Therefore I extol your sufferings and praise your Burial and Resurrection, crying. "O Lord, glory to you!"

Then, there is a solemn procession with the Tomb (Epitaphion).

The time of Vespers (sunset) was about the time at which Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ's body was actually taken down from the Cross.

Matins (Funeral of Jesus Christ, the Lamentations (Junnaaz al-Maseeh)) of Great and Holy Saturday is celebrated on Great and Holy Friday evening

We have the Funeral Service. We gather around the Tomb (Epitaphion) and we sing Lamentations. At the singing of the Lamentations (or Dirges or Praises), the priest incenses the entire church and then sprinkles the tomb and the whole church with perfumed holy water. After the singing of the Great Doxology, the altar servers and the priest lead the procession with the the Tomb (Epitaphion), followed by all the people carrying candles and singing "Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us," out the door and around the church. We go with Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ to Hades to proclaim the life of the approaching Resurrection. Returning to the front door, the Tomb is held up and everyone passes under it, to show that we symbolically die with Christ and are resurrected with our Savior. Back in the church, we read the Epistle and Gospel. Then everyone comes forward to venerate the Body of Christ in the Tomb (Epitaphion). At that time, the priest gives everyone a flower from the Tomb.
Those who wish may stay to pray; others should leave quietly and reverently.

Jesus' body rests in the tomb while His spirit frees the righteous dead.

Divine Liturgy resumes

From the time of the Crucifixion of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ at Matins (Service of the Twelve Gospels or Passion Gospels or Crucifixion Service) of Great and Holy Friday celebrated on Great and Holy Thursday evening to Vespers (Lighting of the New Fire; Procession of Triumph; First Announcement of the Resurrection; Divine Liturgy of Our Father among the Saints Basil) of Pascha is celebrated on Great and Holy Saturday morning, Divine Liturgy is not celebrated and Holy Communion is not given. The reason is that Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ is in the Tomb. The world is in dark sadness because the Light of the World has been taken away.

Vespers (Lighting of the New Fire; Divine Liturgy of Our Father among the Saints Basil) of Pascha is celebrated on Great and Holy Saturday morning. (Many parishes move it to the afternoon/evening.)

Lighting of the New Fire

The services begin with the church in darkness. The priest goes behind the Holy Table, chants the Prayer of the New Light, and lights the new fire, from which all the candles in the church will be lit. He steps forward into the Holy Doors and proclaims: "The light of Christ enlightens all people. Blessed be God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who enlightens and sanctifies our souls and bodies at all times, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen." Our faith that we who are united to Christ in baptism will be raised to new life through his resurrection is proclaimed in the reading from the Epistle to the Rom..

Matins (Hajmeh; Procession of Triumph; First Announcement of the Resurrection; Paschal Orthros; Divine Liturgy of Our Father among the Saints Basil the Great for Pascha) of Pascha is celebrated on Great and Holy Saturday evening

Hajmeh or Procession of Haste

In the darkened church, the priest comes out from the Holy Doors holding his lighted Paschal candle and solemnly sings, "Come and take light from the Light that never fades; come and glorify Christ who is risen from the dead!" All the people come forward and light their candles from the priest's candle, then go out of the church to the front door, where a table is prepared for the Holy Gospel. The priest and the altar servers come out of the church to the table. The priest incenses the Gospel and reads the Resurrection Gospel according to St Mk. (16:1-8). After the Gospel, the priest holds his Paschal candle and the censer and sings the troparion of Pascha--"Christ is risen from the dead and by His death He has trampled upon death and has given life to those who are in the tombs"--for the first time very majestically. The people repeat the troparion two more times and repeat it after every verse the priest chants as he incenses the four directions and the people. After the Great Litany, the priest knocks on the door of the church, announcing that "the King of Glory shall come in!" At the third knock, the doors open and everyone processes into the church, now ablaze with light, singing the Easter Canon: "Today is the day of the Resurrection!"

Procession of Triumph

After the reading of the Epistle, the Procession of Triumph happens. As the choir sings Psalm 81 with the verse "Arise O God, and judge the earth, for You shall inherit all nations," the priest goes around the inside of the church strewing laurel leaves and rose petals as symbols of Christ's victory over death. The reading of the Holy Gospel follows the Procession of Triumph.

First announcement of the Resurrection

The priest proclaims chapter 28 of the Gospel of St Matthew--the first announcement of the Resurrection.

Paschal Orthros

After the reading of the Gospel, the service of Orthros of Pascha proceeds. Hymns of praise to the Resurrection are chanted.

Divine Liturgy of the Pascha

This leads into the Divine Liturgy of the Pascha, with special verses and repeated singing of "Christ is risen!" Instead of the Trisagion ("Holy God, Holy Mighty One . . . ") we sing "All of you who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ! Alleluia!" The Gospel is the first chapter of St John: "In the beginning was the Word . . . " The Easter Sermon of St John Chrysostom, written about 1,500 years ago, preaches the meaning of this Great Feast better than any modern priest could do so. At the end of the Liturgy the priest raises the Paschal candle and greets the people by saying "Christ is risen!" three times, in Greek, Arabic, and English. Each time, the people answer, "He is truly risen!" Finally the priest says, "Glory to His resurrection on the third day!" and the people respond, "We glorify His resurrection on the third day!"

At the end of the Divine Liturgy of the Pascha, the priest blesses the Holy Artos (Pascha bread and eggs(hard-boiled, dyed red)). Everyone comes forward to kiss the cross, to venerate the ikon of the Resurrection, to receive a piece of the blessed bread, a flower, and an egg.

Pascal Greeting, Pascal Troparion, Feasting, the Doors and Curtains of the Ikonostasis are Open, Paschal Candle from the Feast of Feasts Holy and Glorious Pascha until the beginning of the Vespers of the Great Feast of the Ascension into Heaven of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.

For the Forty Days from the Feast of Feasts Holy and Glorious Pascha (Feasts of Feasts) to the Great Feast of the Ascension, we celebrate the Holy and Glorious Resurrection of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ from the dead. By His death He has trampled upon death and given life to the world. By breaking down the gates of Hades, He has opened Heaven to all.

We greet each other by saying "Christ is risen! He is truly risen!" or "Al Masiah Qaam! Haqqan Qaam! / Al Massihu Qam! Haqqan Qam!" or "Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti!".

Also, we say "Glory to His Resurrection on the Third Day! We glorify His Resurrection on the Third Day!".

Finally, we sing the Troparion of Pascha repeatedly in the Divine Liturgy ("Christ is risen from the dead and by His death He has trampled upon death, and has given life to those who are in the tombs!"),

We feast for Forty Days! We do not fast, not even on Fridays. Fasting is forbidden.

The doors and curtains of the ikonostasis remain open. This action is to symbolize how Christ's Resurrection has opened Heaven.

The Paschal Candle, the first one lit by the New Light of Pascha, burns brightly on the Holy Table.

Standing from the Feast of Feasts Holy and Glorious Pascha until the Great Feast of Pentecost

We stand! We do not kneel. Kneeling is forbidden until the beginning of the Vespers of the Great Feast of Pentecost.

These prayers ask the Lord Jesus Christ to send the Holy Spirit also upon us, to empower us to do His will in all aspects of our lives. They are called the "Kneeling Prayers" because they mark the first time we kneel after the 50-day celebration of the Resurrection.

Kontakion, Troparion, Exapostilarion, and Vespers Sticheron or Doxastichon

TROPARION
CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD, AND BY HIS DEATH HE HAS TRAMPLED UPON DEATH AND HAS GIVEN LIFE TO THOSE WHO ARE IN THE TOMBS!

TROPARION (TONE 1)
After the stone was sealed by the Jews, and while the soldiers were watching Your spotless body, You rose, O Savior, on the third day, bestowing life on the world. Therefore the heavenly powers cried out to You, O Giver of Life: "Glory to your resurrection, O Christ, glory to your Kingdom, glory to your Economy, O You who alone are the Lover of All People."

TROPARION (TONE 2)
When You descended to death, O Immortal Life, You put Hades to death by the splendor of Your Divinity. And when You raised the dead from below the earth, all the Heavenly Powers cried out to You, "O Giver of Life, Christ our God, glory to You!"

TROPARION (TONE 5)
Let us, 0 faithful, praise and worship the Word, co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit. Born of the Virgin for our salvation, He was pleased to be lifted in the flesh upon the Cross and to endure death, and to raise the dead by His glorious Resurrection."

Each Sunday and its weekdays have a different tone. The tones are in numberical success beginning with tone 1 on the First Sunday after Holy and Glorious Pascha - Thomas Sunday or New Sunday or Bright Sunday.

Resurrectional Troparia

Resurrectional Troparia Melkite Greek Catholic Church Eparchy of Newton

Trisagion

All of you who have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia!
or
As many as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia!

Readings

On SAT., BLESSING OF THE NEW LIGHT and PROCESSION OF TRIUMPH
Apostolos: Rom. 6:3-12 First Gospel: Matthew 28:1-20
Gospel of Hajmeh Mark 16:1-8
Trisagion: "All of you who have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia!"
Apostolos of the Liturgy: Acts 1:1-9 Gospel of the Liturgy: John 1:1-17
At the end of the Liturgy Christ is risen! He is truly risen! (Arabic, Greek, English)
Priest: Glory to His Resurrection on the third day!
People: We glorify His Resurrection on the third day!

ON SUN., DIVINE LITURGY OF ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
Troparion of Pascha 3 times: Arabic, Greek, English, Hypacoi of Pascha, Kontakion of Pascha
Trisagion: "All of you who have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia!"
Apostolos: Acts 1:1-9 Gospel: Mark 16:1-8 and John 1:1-17
At the end of the Liturgy Christ is risen! He is truly risen! (Arabic, Greek, English)
Priest: Glory to His Resurrection on the third day!
People: We glorify His Resurrection on the third day!

Pascha Homily by Saint John Chrysostom

Saint John Chrysostom's Pascha Homily is always said by the priest.
RESURRECTION HOMILY Saint John Chrysostom Saint Ann Melkite Catholic Church, West Patterson, NJ

There is liturgically nothing on Sunday morning

Many churches will have a second Divine Liturgy of Holy and Glorious Pascha for the people who were unable to attend on Saturday night.

Pascha Cycle

Great and Holy Saturday is within the Pascha Cycle. Great and Holy Saturday is between Great and Holy Friday and Holy and Glorious Pascha.

How to determine when Great and Holy Saturday occurs

Great Lent is Forty Days.
A count back from the date of Pascha is made.

Traditions

Traditions of Great Lent and Holy Week Melkite Greek Catholic Church Eparchy of Newton

Images

Images of Holy Week Melkite Greek Catholic Church Eparchy of Newton


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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center
Martha Liles
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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center is dedicated to my cousins: Bucky (Richard C. Liles) and Shirley (Shirley Jean Liles Buck). Bucky fell asleep in the Lord on Dec. 12, 2000 and Shirley fell asleep in the Lord on Nov. 8, 2001.
O God of all spirits and of all flesh, who have destroyed death, overcome the devil, and given life to the world: grant, O Lord, to the souls of your servants Bucky and Shirley, who has departed from this life, that it may rest in a place of light, in a place of happiness, in a place of peace, where there is no pain, no grief, no sighing. And since You are a gracious God and the Lover of Mankind, forgive him/her every sin he/she has committed by thought, or word, or deed, for there is not a man who lives and does not sin : You alone are without sin, your righteousness is everlasting, and your word is true. You are the Resurrection and the Life, and the repose of your departed servants Bucky and Shirley. O Christ our God, and we send up glory to You, together with your eternal Father and your all-holy, good and life-givng Spirit, now and always and for ages upon ages. Amen.

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