Celebrate the Feast Days of the Resurrection and Holy Ascension – May 26 & 28

Join us in celebrating our parish feast day of the Resurrection (Apodosis of Pascha) along with the feast day of the Holy Ascension.

Please join us on Tuesday, May 26 for Divine Services at 6:00 p.m. with Father Niko Bekris on our YouTube channel and/or Facebook page.  Our parish feast day celebrates the conclusion of the feasting, or the leaving taking of Pascha. It is the last day we greet each other with Christos Anesti! “Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs He has granted life.” – Apolytikion Plagal First Mode

Our sister parish in Oakland, California will be livestreaming Great Vespers for the Feast of the Holy Ascension on Wednesday, May 27 at 5:00 p.m. with Father Tom Zaferes and Father Nick Mueller, along with Divine Services on Thursday, May 28  beginning at 8:00 a.m. All are invited to join the broadcast on their parish website and/or Facebook page. “O Christ our God, You ascended in Glory and gladdened Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit. Your blessing assured them that You are the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world.” – Apolytikion Fourth Mode

The Feast of Feasts (Apodosis of Pascha) – May 27
On Wednesday of the sixth week of Pascha, we celebrate the Apodosis or Leave-taking of the Feast of Feasts – Holy Pascha. While most Feasts have their Leave-taking on the eighth day, Pascha, the Feast of Feasts, has its Leave-taking on the thirty-ninth day. The fortieth day is the Feast of the Lord’s Ascension, which marks the end of the Lord’s physical presence on earth. The Church once again gives us the opportunity to celebrate the beauty of the feast of Pascha. For forty days we celebrate the victory of Christ’s Resurrection, and the Apodosis ends this celebration on the liturgical level. The festivity of the Resurrection, however, continues with us throughout the year, especially every Sunday during the Divine Liturgy which is known as a “Small Pascha.” It is not only the Resurrection we celebrate at every Divine Liturgy, but the entire life of Christ and the Theotokos and the Saints.

The Icon of the Resurrection is one of the most symbolic of the Festal Icons of the Orthodox Church. In the center of this radiant event is Christ pulling Adam and Eve up from their tombs. The gates of the Realm of Death are broken and thrown down. Death, personified in human form is defeated, and bound hand and foot at the bottom of the scene. We recall the joyous words of St. Paul: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)

In the background stands the host of the departed, so numerous they cannot be depicted. Among them in the front of the multitude are some of the righteous dead, though now invigorated by the Resurrection. King David and his son Solomon are seen on the left wearing crowns. Near the center is St. John the Baptist. On the other side is Abel, the son of Adam and the first man to ever die. He wears a shepherd’s robe and has a cane. Many icons of this subject depict large crowds with other recognizable prophets.

The Feast of the Holy Ascension – May 28

On the fortieth day after Pascha, Jesus appeared again in Jerusalem. After He had first spoken to the disciples about many things, He gave them His last commandment – go forth and proclaim His Name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. But He also commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait there together until they receive power from on high, when the Holy Spirit would come upon them.

Saying these things, He led them to the Mount of Olives, and raising His hands, He blessed them, and was parted from them and taken up. Immediately a cloud of light, a proof of His majesty, received Him. Sitting thereon as though on a royal chariot, He was taken up into Heaven, and after a short time was concealed from the sight of the disciples, who remained where they were with their eyes fixed on Him. At this point, two Angels in the form of men in white raiment appeared to them and said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, Who is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven” (Acts 1:11).

The icon of The Ascension of Our Lord is a joyous icon. It is painted with bright colors. Christ is shown ascending in His glory in a mandorla. A mandorla is a design which holds a holy person, and is almond-shaped or round. Christ blesses the assembly with His right hand. In His left is a scroll. The scroll is a symbol of teaching. This icon shows that the Lord in heaven is the source of blessing. In addition, Jesus is the source of knowledge. The icon reminds us that Christ continues to be the source of the teaching and message of the Church, blessing and guiding those to whom He has entrusted his work.

The Theotokos occupies a special place in this icon. She is placed immediately below the ascending Christ, and clearly outlined by the whiteness of two angels. The Theotokos is depicted in a calm pose; her hands are a gesture of prayer. The entire group, the Theotokos and the disciples represent the Church.

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