It took me a while to write about Easter. Easter – Paskha – is the most important holiday for the Russian Orthodox as for many the miracle of Christ’s resurrection surpasses the initial wonder of His birth. Being Christian I celebrated many Easters. I also saw many pictures of people celebrating Easter all over the world. Photographs of Easters in Russia are usually colorful, concentrating on magnificent processions taking place at big cathedrals. “Why write about Easter in Tula?” was a question I asked myself during the past week. “A church service is a church service and the Cross procession at my neighborhood church, however special and significant it was for me and other parishioners, may not seem any different compared to many other services and processions from better-known cathedrals around the world.” I then realized that this unity – of services, processions and people – is exactly what makes Easter so unique. Services in churches in Tula were held in unison with services in many other cathedrals – big and small – throughout the country and the world, echoing, in turn, other processions and ceremonies held throughout many years of Christianity. This spiritual unity was heightened this year by the fact that both Western and Orthodox Easters were celebrated on the same day.
If the week after the Easter Sunday is the time of celebration then the week before, the Holy (strastnaia) Week was the time for reflection. People came to Saints Peter and Paul cathedral to pray. Father Sergius is seen here with the cathedral’s parishioners.
The symbolism of resurrection can be seen in many things, big – such as the people’s growing faith and the restoration of a very special cathedral in Tula — that of Saints Peter and Paul — and seemingly small – such as the miracle of the nature’s renewal, brighter, for some reason, this year.
Or in the city’s Spring cleaning with its usual yearly freshening of curbs.
Or, even, in the abundance of Easter’s cakes, kulichi, which in my childhood used to be baked only at home.
On Holy Saturday people brought kulichi and colored eggs for the sanctification. This is done every twenty minutes or so, when new people come.
Easter Vigil, held later Saturday, is followed by the Cross procession at midnight. “Christ is Risen!” proclaims Father Sergius to the people for the first time after the procession he lead around the church comes back to the front doors of the cathedral. “Indeed he is Risen!” are the joyful replies of the faithful. People then come inside the church for the Divine Liturgy — a very solemn and important service for every Christian.
Later the Holy Fire was brought to the cathedral.
Eastertide or Easter Season lasts forty days, from Easter Sunday until the Feast of the Ascension. The importance of this festive time to me lies not only in celebrating per se as in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice and the ethical values emphasized by the resurrection. Love, forgiveness, renunciation of violence and unity based on tolerance sound especially important in light of the recent events in Ukraine.