On the Saturday of Bright Week, April 18 2015, at the St. Steven’s Cathedral in Alhambra, Los Angeles, the Feast of Our Lady Queen of the Angels (Los Angeles) was celebrated for the first time, as we read from the Synaxarion: On this day, the Saturday of Bright Week, we celebrate the Synaxis of our All-holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary, the Queen of all and Sovereign Lady of the Angels, protectress and unfailing intercessor of our holy diocese of Los Angeles.
The special liturgical service (Akolouthia) for this Feast-day was composed on the Holy Mountain of Athos by Athanasios, Hieromonk of Simonopetra Monastery, Hymnographer of the Holy Great Church of Christ, at the request of His Grace Bishop Maxim of Western America. The Service was translated from Greek language into English by Norman Russell.
On this Sunday, the second Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the Antipascha, that is to say the re-dedication of the Resurrection of Christ, and also commemorate the event of the Holy Apostle Thomas' touching the wounds of Christ.
This commemoration is due to the ancient custom of rededicating important events. As a year would pass and the date of such an event would arrive, a commemoration was made so that such great events would not be forgotten. This is why the Israelites celebrated the Passover at Gilgal, to commemorate the passing through the Red Sea. They also commemorated the consecration of the Tabernacle of Witness that was in the wilderness and many other holy events.
Just a little before midnight on Saturday, April 11, 2015, the Blessed Sabbath, His Grace Bishop Maxim, the clergy, and the Orthodox faithful gathered at the Saint Steven's Cathedral to participate in the Feast of Feasts, Great and Holy PASCHA, the Resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
As the children of the Youth Chorale chanted the verse "Come Receive the Light", His Grace offered the Paschal Light of Christ to the faithful and after receiving the unwaning light the Easter procession around the Church began as the clergy and faithful sang, "The angels in heaven, O Christ our Saviour, sing of Thy resurrection. Make us on earth also worthy to hymn Thee with a pure heart". After returning to the closed doors at the front of the church, His Grace announced the Resurrection of Christ and the Easter Troparion was sung, "Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life".
His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej officiated the Paschal Holy Hierarchal Liturgy at the Saint Sava Memorial Cathedral on Vracar in Belgrade at midnight.
The Paschal service was attended by President of the Republic of Serbia Mr. Tomislav Nikolic. Thousands of believers came to the Cathedral to welcome the Holy Fire, which this year, with the blessing of Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem and Serbian Patriarch Irinej was transferred from the holy city of Jerusalem to the Serbian capital.
Of all the days the Holy and Great Forty Day Fast is the most distinguished, but more than the Holy Forty Day Fast the Holy and Great Passion Week is exalted, and more than the days of Holy Week Great and Holy Saturday is the most exalted. This week is called great not because these days or hours are more exalted but because the great, portentous and extraordinary deeds of our Savior were accomplished during this week, but especially on this day.
Why do atheists and skeptics want to destroy faith?
During the long history of Christianity, there has never been a single miracle that skeptics and atheists have not tried to disprove. They have used and still use every possible means in this battle. Even St. John Chrysostom talked about those [the chief priests and Pharisees] who denied the miracle of the Resurrection, saying, “But note, I pray thee, their plotting, how ridiculous it is. They [the chief priests and Pharisees] say, ‘Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, “After three days I will rise again”’ (Matthew 27:63). Yet if He were a deceiver, and boastfully spoke falsehood, why are ye afraid, and why do ye rush about, and make such a commotion? They reply, ‘We are afraid that the disciples might steal Him away, and deceive the multitude.’ And yet it has been proved [in the previous paragraph of his homily] that this could in no way happen. Malice, however, is a thing obstinate and shameless, and attempts to do what is foolish” (The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel of St. Matthew. Homily LXXXIX 2).