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93 bytes added, 15:18, March 21, 2007
some cleanup; still needs to be expanded beyond Slavic practice
Pascha normally falls either one or five weeks later than the feast as observed by Christians who follow the [[Gregorian calendar]]. However, occasionally the two observances coincide, and some years they can be two, four, or six weeks apart (but never three). The reason for the difference is that the older [[Julian Calendar]] uses a different [[paschalion]], the formula for calculating the date of Pascha. This formula was determined by the [[First Ecumenical Council]].
==Celebration of the feast==
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the center of the Orthodox Christian faith. Twelve weeks of preparation precede it. This is made up of prelenten Sundays, [[Great Lent]], and [[Holy Week]]. The faithful try to make this long journey with repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and study. When the feast finally arrives, it is celebrated with a collection of services combined as one.
Sometime before midnight, on the [[Holy Saturday|Blessed Sabbath]] the [[Nocturne]] service is chanted. The priest goes to the tomb and removes the winding-sheet and carries it through the [[royal doors]] and places it on the [[altar]] table where it remains for forty days until the day of [[Ascension]].
===Midnight Office===Sometime before midnight, on the [[Holy Saturday|Blessed Sabbath]] the [[Midnight Office]] service is chanted. In the Slavic practice, the priest goes to the tomb and removes the [[epitaphios]] and carries it through the [[holy doors]] and places it on the [[altar]] table where it remains for forty days until the day of [[Ascension]]. In the Byzantine practice, the epitaphios has already been removed (during the [[Lamentations Orthros]] on [[Holy Friday]] evening). The procession begins near midnight. The people leave the dark church building singing, carrying banners, [[icons]], candles, and the Gospel. The procession circles the outside of the church and returns to the closed front doors. Here the Gospel is read which tells of the empty tomb. Next, the [[Pascha#Hymns|Easter TroparionPaschal troparion]] is sung for the first time, together with the verses of [[Psalm]] 68 which will begin all of the Church services during the Easter Paschal season.
:''Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee from before his face!''
:''As smoke vanishes, so let them vanish; as wax melts before the fire,''
Next is the service of Easter Paschal [[MatinsOrthros]]. It is entirely sung, nothing is just read in the Church services of Easter, everything is joyfully sung. The [[canon (hymn)|canon]] hymns of Christ's resurrection ascribed to St . [[John of Damascus]], are chanted with the [[Pascha#Hymns|Easter Troparion]] Paschal troparion as the constantly recurring refrain.
Next, in some traditions, the Easter Paschal [[Hours]] are also sung. At the conclusion, the celebrant solemnly proclaims the famous Paschal [[Sermon]] of St. [[John Chrysostom]]. This sermon is an invitation to all of the faithful to forget their sins and to join fully in the feast of the resurrection of Christ. 
===Divine Liturgy===
Next, the Pascha Paschal [[Divine Liturgy]] begins with the singing once more of the festal troparion with the verses of Psalm 68. The [[antiphons]] of the liturgy are special psalm verses that praise and glorify the salvation of God. Again, the troparion is repeated over and over. And the [[baptism]]al verse from [[Galatians]]: ''As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ'' (Galatians 3:27) replaces the [[Trisagion|Thrice-Holy Hymn]].
The readings take the faithful back again to the beginning, and announces God's creation and re-creation of the world through the living Word of God, his Son Jesus Christ.
==Pascha and Natural Religion==
There is, however, a connection which may be drawn between the pre-Christian celebrations and the feast of the Resurrection of Christ. Just as Christ's incarnation is the ultimate fulfilment of the best hopes of all "natural" religion, so can Pascha be understood as being the ultimate springtime of mankind. The pre-Christian celebrations of the renewal of creation in the Spring find their completion in the Resurrection, the passage from death to life of the incarnate Son of God, and with him all creation.
[[Troparion]] (Special Melody)
*[[Paschal Homily]]
==External link==
*[ HOLY PASCHA The Resurrection of Our Lord] from [[OCA]] website.
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