Church Services

Palm Sunday

And the crowds that went before him
and that followed him shouted, "Hosanna
to the Son of David! Blessed is he who
comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!"

Matthew 21:9

April 16 - 22, 2006 - Having hosted Lenten Mission Vespers the week before, and having completed the forty day observance of the Great Fast the day before, SS. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church began the most solemn week in the Orthodox calendar - Holy Week (please see lead photomontage above)- with the Vigil of Palm Sunday with the blessing of willows on Saturday evening, April 15. Palm Sunday (icon immediately above) commemorates the triumphal entry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into Jerusalem several days prior to His Crucifixion and Resurrection. Those who greeted Jesus on that day did so in joyful fashion, throwing palms in His path and acknowledging Him as their earthly king. Several days later events turned and they would not only abandon Jesus - these same people would call for His Crucifixion. This photoreport covers the period from Palm Sunday eve to Holy Saturday at noon. Each section of the present report is preceded by an icon (all of the icons on this page are from the Palekh School of iconography) representing the corresponding Feast Day - Palm Sunday, Great and Holy Thursday, and Great and Holy Friday. A second photoreport will cover PASCHA - the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the most holy day on the Orthodox calendar - and the days of Bright Week which follow.

It was mentioned above that palms are a symbolic part of Palm Sunday services. In the northern European lands of our forefathers, it was too cold a clime to grow palms at this time of the year - or at any time of the year, for that matter. And so, making use of practicality and common sense, our forefathers chose what was closest at hand to symbolize palms - namely, pussy willows. Each year, the willows must be gathered and transported to our Church and, on Lazarus Saturday (the day preceding Palm Sunday), parishioners gather to prepare the willows - sorting them and separating productive from nonproductive willow wood. Above and below, we see scenes of adults and children preparing the willows on the afternoon of April 15 in anticipation of the Vigil of Palm Sunday later that evening.

Parishioners arriving before the start of the Vigil Service were greeted by a table in the center of our Church upon which were placed the willows (above) which would be blessed during the service and then distributed to those in attendance. Below are scenes from the Vigil.

The two clerics shown above are the Rector of our parish, Rev. David Garretson, and our Pastor Emeritus, V. Rev. Sergius Kuharsky. The view from the choir loft (above right) shows that toward the conclusion of the service and after the blessing of the willows, each parishioner approaches the center of the Church to receive anointing with Holy Oil and then a single, blessed willow (photo below right). Below left, the choir sang the responses to the service under the direction of Choirmaster Basil Kozak.

The Feast Day itself dawned bright and clear. As it is the tradition to hold willows during the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom on this day, parishioners stop before entering Church to select the willows which they will hold during the service, as we see parishioner Mary Urbanik doing in the photo above. Below left, Rev. Dn. John Parsells assisted Rev. Garretson in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Below right, Reader Joseph Shaluha read the Epistle in his newly-blessed green sticharion.

Deacon Parsells reads the appointed Gospel reading for the day (above left) and Rev. Garretson delivers the homily immediately following (above right). Below left, the choir sang flawlessly, again under the direction of Mr. Kozak. Below right, Reader Shaluha joined the clerics at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy for a group photo. It is traditional on Palm Sunday for clerics to wear green vestments.

Great and Holy Thursday

Of thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God,
accept me today as a communicant:
for I will not speak of thy Mystery to
thine enemies, neither, like Judas, will
I give thee a kiss; but like the thief will
I confee thee: Remember me, O Lord,
in thy kingdom.

Prayer Before Holy Communion

April 20, 2006 - Great and Holy Thursday - Having recounted the evening before the betrayal of Christ by Judas over Judas's avarice (the commemoration of Christ's betrayal by Judas on Wednesday of Holy Week provides the explanation as to why Orthodox Christians fast on almost all Wednesdays of the year), the Orthodox Church now turns her attention to the events of Great and Holy Thursday. This Feast Day commemorates the Last Supper and the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church. On the morning of this day, a Vesperal Liturgy is served. Below are scenes from the Vesperal Liturgy on the morning of Great and Holy Thursday.

Above left, an icon relief of The Last Supper adorns the front of the Altar of our Church. Above right and below left, Rev. David Garretson consecrates the Holy Gifts. Below right, a parishioner receives Holy Communion on the day commemorating the institution of the Holy Sacrament by Jesus Christ.

Above left, The Golgotha is in place in the center of our Church at the conclusion of the Vesperal Liturgy in anticipation of the Matins of Great and Holy Friday later in the evening. Above right, despite the sadness of the day, the stained glass window in the background of the photo suggests the anticipation of Christ's Resurrection.

Great and Holy Friday

After this Jesus, knowing that all was now
finished, said (to fulfil the scripture), "I thirst."A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so theyput a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssopand held it to his mouth. When Jesus hadreceived the vinegar, he said, "It is finished";and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:28-30

Great and Holy Friday - the commemoration of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the giving up of His Spirit - is the saddest day in the Orthodox Christian calendar. It is a day of strict fast. Celebration of the Divine Liturgy - a joyous service - is forbidden on this day. On Thursday evening is celebrated the Matins of Great and Holy Friday with the reading of the Twelve Passion Gospels. These readings recount the somber events - far removed from the joy of Palm Sunday - which lead to the trial and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Below are scenes from the Matins of Great and Holy Friday and the afternoon service of Vespers of the Entombment with the placing of the Winding Sheet on the Tomb.

The clergy take turns reading from the Twelve Passion Gospels. Above left, Rev. David Garretson, Rector of SS. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, is shown reading from the first Gospel, while (above right) V. Rev. Sergius Kuharsky, Pastor Emeritus of SS. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, reads the second Gospel.

Clergy and parishioners hold candles during the entire service (above left and below left and right). Above right, our Church Choir again sang dependably under the dependable direction of its Choirmaster, Mr. Basil Kozak.

Below are scenes from the Vespers of the Entombment With the Placing of the Winding Sheet on the Tomb. The Winding Sheet is carried in procession from the Altar Table to the Tomb. Below right, Rev. Garretson delivers a brief sermon on the meaning of Good Friday.

Above left, Reader Joseph Shaluha reads from the Psalms at the conclusion of the service. Below right, members of the Steffaro family venerate the Tomb before departing for home, as did all parishioners in attendance at the service.

Great and Holy Saturday

Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day
of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary wentto see the sepulchre. And behold, there was a greatearthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended fromheaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat uponit. His appearance was like lightning, and his raimentwhite as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembledand became like dead men. But the angel said to the women,"Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who wascrucified. He is not here; for he has risen as he said. Comesee the place where he lay.

Matthew 28:1-6

Below are scenes from the Matins of Great and Holy Saturday with the Procession of the Winding Sheet. This service was celebrated on Friday evening, April 21. On the morning of Great and Holy Saturday, a Divine Liturgy is celebrated. Clergy are already wearing white vestments and the nature of the readings and singing suggests that the hope of the Resurrection has already displaced the dismay and despair of Holy Week. After the Divine Liturgy this morning, SS. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church welcomed a new parishioner - former catechumen Amanda McLaughlin - through the Sacraments of Adult Baptism and Chrismation. In the historical Church, baptisms were only performed once per year, that is, on PASCHA, so it is fitting for our parish to welcome her newest parishioner just hours before the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Below are scenes from the Matins of Great and Holy Saturday with the Procession of the Winding Sheet, the Divine Liturgy of Great and Holy Saturday and the Sacramental transition of Amanda McLaughlin from catechumen to parishioner in the Orthodox Faith.

Above left, members of the choir are shown exiting the Church as the procession begins. Above right, Altar Servers do likewise. Below left, Pastor Emeritus, V. Rev. Sergius Kuharsky, preceded the Winding Sheet with the censer. Below right, Rev. Garretson is beneath the Winding Sheet with the Book of Holy Gospels as the procession passes in front of our Church.

Below left, the procession is headed by the Processional Cross and banners. Carrying the Processional Cross is Church President James Kornafel.

Above are additional photos of parishioners in procession. Above right is Amanda McLaughlin who would be baptized and chrismated as an Orthodox Christian and thus would become our newest parishioner (please see below).

Above, a considerable number of parishioners partook of Holy Communion at the Vesperal Liturgy served on the morning of Great and Holy Saturday.

Above right - at the conclusion of the Liturgy, Fr. David blessed the Agape, as is tradition. Below, Tatiana Lapchuk and Reader Joseph Shaluha cut the blessed bread for distribution along with wine.

After the morning Liturgy, parishioners Gregory Berezniak, Hank Dziemian, Joseph Shaluha, and Choirmaster Basil Kozak erect the sign outside of our Church which proclaims Christ's Resurrection. Below, baptismal candles and other items integral to the baptismal service lie on the Winding Sheet in anticipation of the Baptism and Chrismation of Amanda McLaughlin.

Above Amanda receives baptism with water - the adult equivalent of infant immersion in water. Below left, Amanda and her sponsors - Karen and Gregory Berezniak - hold candles during the service. Below right, Rev. Garretson reads over Amanda from the Book of Holy Gospels.

Below, Fr. David poses with Amanda and her sponsors in front of the icon of her patron, the NewMartyr Elizabeth. A complete and distinct photoreport on Amanda's Baptism and Chrismation will soon be available on this site.

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