You might have noticed that the date for our celebration of our Lord’s Ascension with a Vesperal Liturgy has just jumped from Thursday, May 28th to Wednesday, May 27th. Just to clarify, this was not a mistake but rather a deliberate change of dates. I have figured out a way (or, rather, will figure out a way) to celebrate Vesperal Liturgy for Ascension on the proper day (namely, Wednesday). So…
Christ is risen!
In the Slavic tradition that we, in the OCA, have inherited from the Russian Mission to North America, a particularly important celebration is Radonitsa, “The Day of Rejoicing”. This celebration is essentially the Christian “baptism” of the remembrance of the departed that is so fundamental to us as human beings and which, in Christianity, is transformed by the joy of the Resurrection. This joyful remembrance of the departed is traditionally clebrated (in a custom which may stretch as far back as the time of St. John Chrysostom) on the first day that commemorations of the dead are allowed after Bright Week – namely, the Tuesday of the week following Bright Week – and, in the Slavic tradition, is celebrated with a general Panikhida (memorial service), blessing of Paschal food, and a procession to bless the graves in the church cemetery.
We obviously missed the “official” day of Radonitsa (and have no church cemetary to bless, yet!), but, in honour of the day, we will celebrate a general Panikhida just before Vespers this Saturday at 5:30pm. It is perhaps fitting that, after Vespers this Saturday, many of us will also be celebrating the departure of our beloved not-yet-departed medical students, David and Jeff, who have survived their intensive studies and will soon be leaving us to undertake their two-year residency training in Montreal and Victoria. Death, in the Christian understanding, is rather like departure – “we sorrow,” as the Apostle Paul says, “but not as those who have no hope.” In the joy of the Resurrection, no parting is permanent!