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MOSCOW, April 9 (Itar-Tass) — Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill I has congratulated the clerics and the lay on the occasion of the Holy Week – a period of an especially strict fasting and prayer that precedes the Easter.
Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches, including the Russian Church, observe the Pascha /Easter/ cycle in accordance with the ‘old-style’ Julian calendar that was in effect during Jesus Christ’s lifetime. This year, the Orthodox Christian Easter falls on April 15.
After leading the Liturgy of Pre-Sanctified Gifts in Moscow’s Monastery of Our Lady of the Don, the supreme hierarch of the Russian Church inaugurated this year’s procedure of making of the myrrh, the holy oil used in the rites of baptism and consecration of church buildings.
By tradition laid down in later 1940’s, myrrh for all the parishes of the Russian Church is prepared in the altar of the Lesser Cathedral of this monastery.
His Holiness Kirill I wished the clerics and the lay “to go through the beneficial preparations of the Holy Week and to prepare ourselves for the great joy of hailing the Day of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection.”
In the Russian Orthodox tradition, the name of each day of the week includes the adjective ‘great’. On the Great Monday, the Church recalls the episode with the barren fig tree, which symbolizes a human soul deprived of God’s light.
The Great Thursday is the day of recollection of the Last Supper, during which Jesus established the Eucharist.
On the Great Friday, Jesus was crucified. This is the day of the strictest fasting and most profound prayer.
The services of the Great Saturday are linked to Jesus’s entombment, but it is already in the course of the morning service that the priests change their dark vestments for the brightly colored ones in the altar.
After the morning service, preparations for the Easter dinner begin, as the priests read special prayers over the Easter eggs, holy loaves and special curd desserts, which the believers bring to the church on the eve of the holiday for consecration. During the consecration ceremony, ‘the gifts’ are sprinkled with holy water.
Throughout the week, Kirill I will lead services at Moscow’s monasteries and the metropolitan Cathedral of the Savior.
The most festive service of the year will be held by tradition on the night from Saturday, April 14, to Sunday, April 15.