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Over 300,000 people have visited Moscow’s churches and monasteries over the Easter weekend in Russia. Police patrols were on alert to prevent breaches of peace and crime, with over 6,000 officers deployed to guard the city’s monasteries and churches.
Easter is the red letter day in the Orthodox calendar. The holy day is being celebrated by believers worldwide, with large-scale festivities to be held in Russia on Sunday.
Easter services are also organized at all Russian Orthodox churches across the world, the number of which exceeds 30,000.
But the largest service, helmed by Patriarch Kirill, is being held at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The service lasts several hours, well into the early hours of Sunday.
A group of pilgrims have also delivered the Holy Fire from the Old City of Jerusalem to the Russian Cathedral of Christ the Savior. It is lit each year at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem on the day preceding Orthodox Easter. Tens of thousands of pilgrims visited Jerusalem on Saturday to observe the ‘Holy Fire’ ceremony.
The Holy Fire has been perceived by generations of Orthodox believers as a miracle. It’s through divine intervention that the first flame comes to life, the faithful believe. Pilgrims say it doesn’t burn in the first minutes after it has been lit. Parts of the Holy Fire are ‘spread out’ between churches across the country, placed in torches akin to those used to transport the Olympic Flame.
After parishioners lit the candles from the Holy Fire, Kirill started the procession around the cathedral, glorifying the Resurrection. Priests and believers carrying crosses and icons get going around the church. The procession climaxed when the Patriarch announced “Christ is risen!”, meaning the Holy Day has started.
After midnight and for the next 40 days after Easter Sunday, Orthodox Christians will be greeting each other with the words "Christ is risen!" expecting the reply "He is risen indeed!" The end of the short dialogue is celebrated by three traditional kisses.
The festivities at the Christ the Savior Cathedral where attended by President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin.
Christians celebrate Easter to mark the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion. The Resurrection of the Savior symbolizes his victory over sin and death.
Preparations for Easter celebrations begin on the last day of the Holy Week, known in Russia as Passion Week. On Holy Saturday believers come to churches to have their paschal cakes and eggs blessed by priests.
Easter is preceded by a long period of fasting. Believers abstain from meat, fish, eggs and dairy products for 48 days, spending time in prayer.
The real challenge is to help people refine their souls and learn to restrain desire.
Russians celebrate the end of Lent by painting colorful eggs – as a rule red, as a symbol of the blood of Christ - they exchange with each other, and preparing rich Easter cakes with raisins and nuts.
Easter is a moveable feast. Eastern and Western Christianity base their calculations on different calendars. The former uses Julian calendar, the latter Gregorian, so their Easter days differ.
Last year it was marked by the Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant and Anglican churches on the same day, which happens quite rarely.
In 2012 nearly half a million Muscovites flocked to the country's churches to take part in evening and night services across the Russian capital. The largest service drew 6,000 people and was held at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Patriarch Kirill, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church, led the Easter service in Moscow's landmark Cathedral.
More than 6,000 people attended the Easter service at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow
© Russia Today. 06 May, 2013
The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church, has addressed the faithful with his traditional Easter speech.
Christ is Risen, dear brothers and sisters!
I would like to share the joy of the holy day of Easter with all of you. The Lord has indeed saved us all through his resurrection. And in order to comprehend the significance of this for us as mankind we could consider this example. Just imagine that someone innocent took the blame, responsibility and penalty for all the crimes ever committed by all the wrongdoers and rendered them all free by taking their penalty for them. Our Lord Jesus Christ did just the same, yet with one condition – he didn’t open the doors of the prison cells the sinners are contained in, but undid their locks. And now it is our free choice – to step out and be free or remain locked up. In one of the hymns, we praise our risen Savior saying that He smashed open the eternal fetters and chains and freed us of them. But in order for us to step out of that door and become free we need to make our way towards Him, because there is only one way that leads to the door beyond which the freedom lies.
Our circumstances in life, superstitions, all kinds of stereotypes and false values lead us off this path. We often get tempted with other ways to freedom. At times people spend their entire lives pursuing these ways only to find out in the end that they’re still locked up and instead of obtaining freedom have hit the wall. Some may still have the time and energy to resume their search for a way out, while others may give up the hope to escape their imprisonment.
If we turn to Christ, we open the door that He unlocked for us. We become free and empowered by His ways and commandments. We become free to live a full life. This doesn’t require any exhausting effort. It only takes to believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ has risen and saved us. It only takes to believe that the door is open. It only takes to believe that living by His will is the true freedom while any other way is the opposite.
And when we begin to realize this, a whole new life opens to us. We find it easier to be good to people, refrain from foul words or judgments and make our way through life without hurting other people or crippling them.
We discover that we are able to love, be faithful, and carry the truth into the world. That’s what life in Christ means, that’s what the true freedom is. Maintaining freedom isn’t easy. Each one of us knows how difficult it is for a state to protect its freedom and independence. It sometimes takes a lot of hard work. Protecting one’s freedom from numerous temptations and illusions that the dark powers are sending our way to drive us off the way to salvation isn’t easy just the same way.
The holy day of Easter is a celebration of victory and freedom. Let’s embrace this holy day with these feelings and make the decision, as much as we can, to start making our way towards our risen Savior through the door that He gracefully opened for us by His holy deeds of mercy and truth – and we can do so by helping those who need our help, promoting peace, justice and love among all of us.
Christ is risen indeed! Amen!
© Russia Today. 05 May, 2013
Photo: A pre-Revolutionary Easter card depicts the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and the Tsesarevich Alexei distributing Easter eggs to soldiers.
St. Petersburg-based State Museum of History is offering a rich collection of 19th-20th century Easter greeting cards at an exhibition that opened on Thursday, ITAR-TASS reports. Festive attributes and symbols will make it possible to trace all the stages of the great Christian Holiday from the Palm Sunday to the Bright Week. Visitors will also be able to see greetings, addresses and the names of dispatchers and recipients on the reverse sides of the cards.
The first domestic Easter greeting cards include a series of illustrated Easter cards issued by the Community of St. Eugenia in 1898. They are made in water colors and are devoted to “spring themes”. The Community’s publishing house often returned to the Easter theme in future. The sketches for the Easter greeting cards were drawn by Ivan Bilibin, Fyodor Berenshtam, Yevgeny Bem and other famous artists.
The exposition also features greeting cards made by other publishers such as the Richard publishing house in St. Petersburg, the Lenz and Rudolf publishers in Riga, the Kiev-based “Rassvet” (Dawn) publishers, the Vienna-based “M.Munk” and “The Publishing House of I. Lapin” in Paris. They depict traditional Easter eggs, Easter cakes, churches, spring landscapes and people exchanging triple kisses as well as some untypical images borrowed from Western Europe such as rabbits, lapins and chicks.
Photo cards, including portraits and still-life paintings, were no less popular than drawn cards. Most of them were shot in the studio and were often painted manually in aniline colors.
A special section is devoted to Easter cards issued during WWI. New attributes and new characters appeared on those Easter cards such as soldiers and nurses. One of the last cards was issued in 1917. An unknown artist drew a red Easter egg as a symbol of revolutionary events in Russia. Soon, all Easter celebrations were abolished and Easter greeting cards disappeared from Soviet life. Easter traditions were preserved only by Russian emigrants abroad. Church publishing houses printed a small number Easter cards after the Great Patriotic War. The tradition of printing Easter cards started to revive in the late 1980s.
The exhibit runs until June 17th in the History Museum of St. Petersburg which is located inside the SS Peter and Paul Fortress.
© Russkiy Mir. 26 April, 2013
Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, is delivering his traditional Easter address to Orthodox believers.
I address you, dear brothers and sisters, with this Paschal greeting: Christ is risen!
This greeting, which we have inherited from the days of holy apostles, proclaims divine truth and asserts a historical fact. Indeed, 2,000 years have passed, but nobody can say that this greeting is no longer relevant. It is living and effective, and this alone manifests divine power and truth.
The greeting that you have just heard and that you will pass to each other later today contains a great hope, because our Lord Jesus Christ, being without sin, in other words not having sinned before men or before God, was crucified, and before that subject to suffering, torture and humiliation.
How often, when facing suffering, especially suffering inflicted by other people, we become anxious and desperate. We think that it is unjust for us to suffer, that we don’t deserve this. We resist injustice. Believers often say that by being reviled they are bearing their cross.
So why is apostles’ greeting, ‘Christ is risen!’, a sign of hope for us? It’s because if Christ, who was without sin, suffered, we, too, should remember our Lord and Savior when facing injustice, slander, malice and lies.
Every one of us, even those who suffer unjustly, has some personal sins, some wrongdoings. This alone means that we can regard our suffering as a punishment for our wrongdoings.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, who had not committed any wrongdoing and had never lied, accepted reviling from people and even agreed to be put to death being innocent.
The Lord has taken the way of the cross, and now He encourages us to follow Him and remember that resurrection follows the cross.
The Lord has risen from the dead, and this resurrection is His victory over all those lies.
We believe that as we proclaim, with faith and hope, that Christ is risen, we too are heirs to everything Christ entrusted to His apostles, because Easter, the day of Christ’s resurrection, is a day of great hope, which should strengthen us in our sorrows, help us overcome hardships, cope with injustice and move forward remembering that Christ defeated evil, which means that we too should overcome evil in our lives, through the power of God, the power of prayer and the power of faith.
That is why the holy day of Easter is a celebration of hope for all people.
I would like to share the joy of this celebration and the joy of Christian hope with you. Let this hope give you strength to go through your life, following the great, unfading and shining image of the risen Christ.
CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!
© Russia Today. 15 April, 2012
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