Voices from Russia

Sunday, 24 April 2016

24 April 2016. Holy Week is Upon Us… Take of It What You Can, When You Can

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The holiest season of the Christian Year is upon us… Christ comes to Jerusalem to perform the Seder, be betrayed, suffer a real death, and to rise from the tomb, trampling down death by death. You don’t have to be at every service… our services are monastic in nature, so, they’re not well-suited at times to laypeople with real cares, obligations, and limitations in the real world. This is a time of year when jumped-up konvertsy try to lecture the rest of us on how to be Orthodox (quite often using inappropriate “Evangelical” verbiage in so doing). I advise most of you not to engage them, please. I always fall down at once or twice a year in that… their overblown treatises with rather shallow roots do rankle me mightily (especially, when I’m tired or vexed).

You’re under no obligation to go to all the services. You’re NOT a monastic. Even in monastic communities, there are always those with obediences that often keep them from services. Go to what services you can and get from them what you will. Stand in God’s Presence… it’s enough, trust me on that. Remember, the services are only the flower of the Faith… belief is the root and Christian practise is the stem. The services are only an ornament… without interior content, they are worse than nothing.

Reflect on what Christ did for you and for all of us… then, love and do what you will, as the Apostle bade us…

BMD

24 April 2016. From the Russian Web (By Way of Texas)… Happiness to All of Y’all on the Feast!

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I found this little guy all over the RuNet, so, I researched the image. It seems that the earliest posts of this were from Texas! Quite obviously, since we Russians use pussy willows instead of palms on Palm Sunday, one can see why Russians fell in love with this one. This is one of the Great Feasts of the Church… it reminds us that Easter is only one week ahead… I still have my kulichi to buy, I confess… forgive me, for I shall sin… I’m buying it and not baking it myself…

BMD

Saturday, 23 April 2016

23 April 2016. Tomorrow Is Palm Sunday… Holy Week Is Upon Us

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Bulgarian kids dressed for Lazaritsa (Lazarus Day)

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Tomorrow is Palm Sunday… Holy Week is upon us. Technically, Lent ended on Friday… Lazarus Day and Palm Sunday are out-of-sequence… Holy Week is a separate entity in our liturgical and popular life. In the Orthodox countries, many people only really stick to the full regimen of abstinence during the first week of Lent (Clean Week) and during Holy Week. This is what’s actually out there. Of course, more than you might think do abstain from meat, eggs, and dairy products… but very, very few keep the fullness of the abstinence rules (which are monastic, not secular, after all). Therefore, the konvertsy caterwauling about people “not fasting” isn’t only out-of-place, it’s not in the Mind of the Church. The late Patriarch Pimen Izvekov blessed seminarians and lay workers at seminaries to eat fish during Lent… some loudmouths were causing trouble (just like they do here in the diaspora). In fact, even most monastics don’t keep the full rigour of the Fast… most monasteries require a monk or nun to ask permission to do so, and that permission isn’t always forthcoming.

So… Holy Week is upon us… Christ goes forth to His Voluntary Passion and Death… to culminate in the Feast of Feasts, the Festival of Festivals… Holy Easter… Holy Pascha… whatever you call it, it’s the Centre of Our Faith.

BMD

23 April 2016. Today is Lazaritsa… Lazarus Day

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Girls doing a traditional dance for Lazaritsa in Bulgaria

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Today is Lazarus Day (Лазаровден); also known as Lazaritsa (Лазарица). Lazarus Day occurs eight days before Easter. Due to the fact that Easter is determined by a lunar calendar, not the solar calendar, Lazarus Day falls on a different date every year, but always on Saturday. On this day, there are set customs. Young women pick flowers for bouquets that they’ll bring to the church for blessing on Palm Sunday (the day after Lazarus Day). The girls dress in traditional folklore costumes and go about the houses of the village singing special songs (Lazarki) asking for health, prosperity, happiness, a good harvest, and blessings upon all concerned. However, in houses where unmarried young people live, the girls sing special songs about love. The householders give them money, eggs, fruit, and small gifts. In past times, suitors proposed to their girlfriends on Lazarus Day.

BMD

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