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Online Liturgical Texts for April Now Available

Fr. Justin Havens of Ss. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church of Salt Lake City, Utah baptizes new Orthodox Christians on Holy Saturday, 2014.Fr. Justin Havens of Ss. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church of Salt Lake City, Utah baptizes new Orthodox Christians on Holy Saturday, 2014.The liturgical texts for April, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.

By now, Orthodox Christians have completed their Lenten journeys by entering into the festive, albeit brief, period of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday. When our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ raised his friend Lazarus from the dead after four days, He confirmed "the universal Resurrection." That is, our Lord shows us that He will raise all of those who believe that He is Life. Then, on Palm Sunday, we commemorate our Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem where the people cried out "Hosanna!" (or, "save us now!) and waved palms as symbols of victory. Antiochian parishes around the world festively celebrate this day as a second Pascha, bearing candles and palms in large outdoor processions.

But then, the festivities come to a sudden stop. The Church now enters Great and Holy Week, a somber yet anticipatory time in which Orthodox Christians walk every step of the way with our Lord through the Mystical Supper, and His betrayal, judgment, crucifixion and death. But then, Orthodox Christians celebrate His destruction of Hades on Holy Saturday, and His Resurrection on Great and All-Holy Pascha. The vast majority of these services are found in the Antiochian Archdiocese's book "The Services of Great and Holy Week and Pascha." However, the Online Liturgical Guide has provided two additional ones: Orthros of Holy Thursday (April 9), in which we commemorate the Foot-Washing, Mystical Supper, Transcendent Prayer and Betrayal of Christ; and the Vesperal Divine Liturgy on Holy Saturday (April 11) that includes the sacraments of baptism and chrismation. This is specifically for parishes that are restoring the ancient, Godly tradition of initiating an organized catechumenate into the Church on this most important day.

For Pascha (April 12), the Online Liturgical Guide features the outline of the midnight vigil and Divine Liturgy Variables, but also Agape Vespers, in which the Gospel is read in multiple languages to confirm the universal "good news" of Christ's Resurrection; and the Paschal Office, which is read in place of most daily services. Parishes can print this Office for parishioners to take home because it also replaces their personal prayers at home.

On April 19, we commemorate "Thomas Sunday" in which we recount the Apostle Thomas' lack of belief in Christ's Resurrection. Our Lord famously said: "Blessed are those who do not see, and yet believe." On April 26, we commemorate the Myrrh-bearing women who were the first to proclaim Christ's Resurrection, as well as Righteous Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who happens to be the patron saint of Sayidna Joseph.

The Online Liturgical Guide, produced by the Committee on Liturgics, provides the official, uniform word-for-word texts to be used for the divine services in all parishes across the Archdiocese. Should you have any questions, please contact Subdeacon Peter Samore at service_texts@antiochianladiocese.org.