During the seder of the Jewish Passover, the youngest member at the meal is to ask questions about the ritual. What a wonderful way not only to ensure that new generations understand the meaning of sacred traditions, but also that adults don’t forget the “why” of all the preparations and practices we know so well.
In our Ukrainian Catholic Faith Tradition, religious and cultural practices are inextricably entwined, even when a custom predates Christianity, such as pysanky.
Our lives are more deeply enriched when we ask ourselves “why” regarding our Faith. Understanding symbolic meaning opens up so much more possibility for recognizing our own personal ways to relate to ancient practices and tie us to generations past and future!
Today we celebrate the beginning of Christian experience. Each time we show our love for others, we live in the Resurrection. Each time we delight in life, we live in the Resurrection.
Today is the birthday of joy!
Today, the service of Matins, (Utrenja) enacts the blissful gladness of hope after the bleakness of death. We leave the darkness of the church—the tomb— with lighted candles and walk three times around the church. The sun is rising. We are the myrrh-bearing women, weary with the injustice and cruelty that humiliates and destroy; but our love carries us forward.
We expected death and found life.
We are the first to proclaim the Good News.
It is important that we walk outdoors—outside we are not hiding from the world that denies Christ; we confront our souls as our material bodies confront the weather: the wind, rain, cold, of the dawn of our new life in Christ.
The Resurrection icon and Artos lead the procession (counter-clockwise) and at the
third passage the procession stops in front of the closed doors of the church – a symbol of heaven closed to us before the resurrection.
The priest knocks on the church door with a crucifix: the tomb is empty.
The doors open.
The priest proclaims “Christ is risen!” We affirm “He is truly risen!” The open doors thus signify the openness of Heaven because of Christ’s victory over death.
The church bells ring.
Singing the joyous Resurrectional tropar, we re-enter the church, now dazzlingly lit, the vestments bright.
We pass from darkness into light!
During the Matins, we recognize and remind each other of our responsibility as followers of the Risen Christ: you and I are to be icons of Christ to our world—embodying peace, hope, mercy, love.
This is the day of the Resurrection
Let us be illumined by this celebration
Let us embrace each other,
Let us call “brothers and sisters” even those who hate us
And forgive all by the Resurrection
And so let us cry: Christ is Risen from the dead,
by death trampling on death
and on those in the tombs bestowing life!