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Bright Week in the Eastern Catholic Church

img_2076-1280x960-1-1The first week starting with Pascha is known as Bright Week.  In our Byzantine Catholic churches, the entire week of Easter or Pascha is given extraordinary significance.  Pascha, being the Feast of Feasts is the greatest historical event on the liturgical calendar and we carry the salutations and hymns of the resurrection from Pascha to Christ’s Ascension.

Everything about Bright Week emphasizes the salvific act of Christ’s resurrection and the triumph over darkness.  The magnitude of Christ’s Resurrection is intertwined in the liturgical celebrations to such a degree that there can be no doubt in the minds of the faithful that what has transpired has changed the world and humanity forever.  Everything is brought into the fullness of the light shining in the world.  As the Gospel of John Chapter 1 proclaims about Christ, that it is “through him all things came into being, and apart from him nothing came to be.  Whatever came to be in him, found life, life for the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, a darkness that did not overcome it.”  (John 1: 3-5).

A tradition of our Byzantine churches on Bright Monday is the proclamation of the four resurrection Gospels.  The priest together with the faithful walk in procession while chanting resurrectional hymns to the four corners of the earth, represented by the four “corners” of the church.  The significance of this relates to the command of the angel who appeared to the myrrh bearing women upon arrival at the tomb, directing them to go forth and proclaim the good news of Christ’s resurrection and in these gospels we hear this account.  It is a beautiful tradition and one that if possible, all are encouraged to participate in when available.  It reminds us that in the baptismal vows made by our sponsors on our behalf, that we too are obligated as Christian believers and held accountable to do the same, to witness Christ to the world.   When we are able to join in this service, we are publicly making visible our commitment to all that we believe.  In every sense, we demonstrate Christ’s life in us.   Do we not want to shine to others also?

In the reading of the following Gospels which are chanted at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy on Bright Monday, we find ourselves mystically at the tomb with the disciples and the holy women.

Matthew 28: 1 – 28
Mark 16: 1 – 19
Luke 24: 1 -12
John 20: 1 – 10

As we listen and meditate on the accounts, our hearts are stirred with the same wonder as the first witnesses.  The sheer astonishment of the apostles in seeing the empty tomb and burial garments left in place brings to life  – paints an icon – of the reality and actuality of the Resurrection.  We can only imagine the rush of emotion they felt at the time as indescribable.

It is why their reading on this day after Pascha further confirms the authenticity of all we profess and believe.  While the manner in which the Resurrection physically occurred is beyond the grasp of our human intelligence, the facts of the Resurrection cannot be disputed.  Our faith in God lies in our surrender to trust in the mystery.  And in our trust, God can do great things.  The reading of the four Gospels should inspire us even more of the beauty of God’s plan and love for us.  Our faith is emboldened in this beautiful tradition of their reading.

In the liturgical services during this festal period, everything points heavenly and unites all creation in praise and glory to God.   Pascha is celebrated as a solemn feast for three days and liturgically observed the whole week.  During this week, the doors of the iconostasis or icon screen including the Royal Doors  remain open.  This symbolizes visually that Christ’s resurrection opened heaven for all of us.  We sing the Paschal troparion of “Christ is risen…” with the opening of each liturgy, during and closing.  And in the final blessing, the priest continues to bless us three times with the hand cross loudly and emphatically proclaiming “Christ is Risen!”  to which the faithful respond enthusiastically that “Indeed He is Risen!” while making the sign of the cross.

Our joy in the resurrection should be jubilant to the highest degree throughout Bright week and in the following 39 days because this is the summit of our Christian faith.  As we sing “Shine in splendor” everything in Bright week does shine in splendor in the beauty of the white altar linens, vestments, candles, flowers, and intensified church lighting.  Our celebration, as in other particular feast days, also removes the requirement to abstain or fast on the Friday of this week.   And so our joy is extended to all aspects of our life.  Let us fill our domestic churches – our homes – with joy and symbols of our unity of faith.

Our hearts rejoice in the hope of eternal life with our Lord.  Let us sing and rejoice!

The post-festive period of the Resurrection lasts until Ascension, the next feast day in the awesome continuation of God’s plan.

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Christ is Risen! Indeed He Is Risen!

“It is the day of Resurrection.  O People, let us be enlightened by it.
The Passover is the Lord’s Passover, since Christ, our God, has brought us from death to life,
and from earth to heaven.
Therefore we sing the hymn of victory!”

The words above are from Ode 1 of the Resurrection Canon sung at Resurrection Matins in our Byzantine Catholic churches.   The words summarize what the Resurrection of Jesus Christ accomplished across all measures of time and space for all people.   Our hymn of victory is our proclamation that “Christ is Risen” and that He is our God, “the Giver of Life”.

IMG_2021 (1012x1024) (2)Our Hymn of Victory is made visual each time we see the symbolic letters of
IC XC NIKA,  shorthand derived from the Greek language meaning  JESUS CHRIST CONQUERS!   Everytime we see these letters — on icons, on our hymnal books, in stained glass windows, and also imprinted on the prosphora the priest uses for Holy Communion — we are emboldened with strength in knowing that regardless of any hardships we have, that Christ triumphs over darkness.

We turn to Christ as a trusting child, knowing that the victory he has won for us is the answer.

The victory of our Risen Savior is found in another beautiful hymn sung at Resurrection Matins, the Hypakoje, gives a wonderful description of what we read in the New Testament — the discovery of the empty tomb, and along with this, a short command given to the “myrrh-bearing” women to act immediately.   A call to action, nonetheless!  This is also a command for us to go and be disciples.  To joyfully proclaim the same wonderous news to all.  When we share the “kerygma” we are following in the footsteps of the women at the tomb who in their discovery were the first to proclaim the revelation of the good news.

“The women with Mary, before the dawn, found the stone rolled away from the tomb – And they, heard the Angel say: ‘Why do you seek among the dead as a mortal , the One who abides in everlasting light?  Behold, the linens of burial – Go in haste and proclaim to the world – that having, conquered Death, the Lord is risen for He is the Son of God, the Savior of mankind.”

And as we rejoice and celebrate, we sing with emphasis the words of another refrain:

“All you who been baptized into Christ, have been clothed with Christ! Alleluia!

The church wisely reminds us that we are clothed in Christ as having been initiated into the Body of Christ through the Sacraments.  We live in Christ and Christ lives in us.   This is such a great gift freely and sacrificially earned for us by our Lord and Savior.   Such a victory!  Such a gift !  No one can give such a valuable gift as this !   Every time we receive the Sacraments, we renew our life in Christ.   Let us be mindful when we approach the Sacraments, such as Holy Communion, who we are receiving and what a sacred privilege to be so closely united with Christ, to be filled with all the graces and love He pours into our soul.

Not inconsequentially — our promise to God in our baptism is to live our Christian beliefs, all that Jesus taught his own disciples.  We are pledged and commissioned, just as the angel instructed the women at the empty tomb, to share through action and words, the message and joy of the Gospel.

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This is why in the Byzantine Catholic Church we sing repeatedly:   “Christ is Risen!”  It is just as He foretold.  The amazing power of God.

May we strive with unfailing intention, to bring the spirit of that  first Easter and evidence of our life in Christ to those we encounter along our life path.

Christ is Risen !  Indeed He IS Risen !

You can find more about these related topics on this website:

Pascha-Resurrection

Explanation of the Descent into Hades Icon

Reflections during Holy Week 2020

img_0481-443x800Our journey with our Lord brings us to this most solemn week for all Christians.   Yet we find ourselves both anxious and expectant of what may come next.  It is not the events of our Lord’s passion that has us most anxious.  Rather we feel the vulnerability and risk associated with a microscopic adversary, the novel coronavirus.  This tiny entity that we cannot see, but fear greatly, has presented every person with never before foreseen challenges.  We have been forced to submit to authorities in new ways, we have been stripped of our complacency and distanced from our self-created sense of comfort and self-reliance.

For us as Christians and Catholics it has been a Lenten journey like no other, one seen in a new light if we are able to see all that has come upon us through our spiritual eyes.   This Lent has given us a stark reminder more powerful than any of our rituals of faith, of our human condition — the finite reality of our human physical bodies.

Now imagine for a moment the world back in the time of Jesus Christ.  We may have an idealized view of what it was like.  But it was a world of difficulties, of hardships, and of discomforts.  During Jesus’ three years of public ministry he walked and lived the day to day realities of that time. And for what little the apostles had in terms of possessions, Jesus asked them to give up all for the greater treasure he offered.  Now consider the works of Jesus during his travels in the many towns and villages around Galilee.  Aside from his preaching, you would probably agree that his healing of the sick is among the most mentioned topics in Scripture. Wherever he traveled, Jesus was surrounded by people who sought to be healed.

In the situation of our present moment, we have been humbled to change our behavior, our thinking, our habits, relationships and more.  Like the people in Jesus’ time on earth, we are a people and a world in need of healing.  We have been in need of healing for some time.   Our plea of healing is not only for our physical problems, but for healing of the many ways we fail to live the virtues that Jesus calls us to.  Those failings are our sins.   Jesus not only wished to heal the people of his time on earth of their physical infirmities, but in many ways their spiritual blindness, a blindness that is prevalent in our time.  Jesus’ love and desire is to heal people of all time for all eternity.

A tradition during Great and Holy week in the Byzantine Catholic church has always been the chance for all Byzantine Catholics –  not limited to those with physical ailments — to receive the Sacrament of Sick, usually on Holy Wednesday.  Our Eastern view of the Sacrament is that we are all in need of healing, whether that is spiritual or physical and we are invited as a church family to receive this Sacrament during Great and Holy Week.  Unfortunately, during this time of cloistering and distancing, we are unable to receive this important Sacrament of our Catholic church.   However, we can still ask Jesus to heal us wherever we may be.  We can “attend” one of the many streamed services online, even to chant and pray along as participants.

We do not know what comes next in our present crisis.  In any crisis we do not know.  But we do know what comes next in the upcoming and final days of Holy Week.  And as we participate in our domestic church services this week, we can appreciate more clearly what Jesus endured for us, we see the price of sacrificial love, and the meaning of the cross.  We also see what Jesus wants us to have, wants us to possess, and that is the constancy of hope, a hope in all that is Truth, all that is eternal.  For the cross is more than a symbol.  Jesus Christ our Lord has conquered what we fear most.  He shows us the Way, loves us as children, knows our fears and hears our prayers.

We call to mind the many ways Jesus healed those who sought his help in total trust. In faith we can obtain those same graces and spiritual healing.   Jesus, the great Physician of Souls is always near to the hearts of those who seek and ask.

  • Please pray this week for healing for those who are suffering in any way and those who are grieving the loss of loved ones.
  • Pray for all who tirelessly serve the needs of others in sacrifice, that they may have the physical strength and patience they require.
  • Pray for healing and softening of the hearts that reject and mock God or are lukewarm in their relationship with Him.
  • And do not fear to ask for your own spiritual healing to trust God in all the trials of life, in asking for protection in the Most Holy and Blessed name, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Byzantine Liturgy at St. Ann Basilica, Scranton – Tuesday, July 23, 2019

 

 

We Welcome You to Join Us !

2019 Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy
Basilica of St. Ann, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Tuesday, July 23 – 4:30 p.m.

Bishop Kurt R. Burnette, D.D., of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, New Jersery will once again preside at this year’s Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy on Tuesday, July 23rd.  Present with the Bishop will be area priests, deacons, altar servers and regional choir members.  Not only is this a gathering of Byzantine Catholic faithful, but an opportunity for everyone to experience the expression of the Eastern traditions of the Catholic church.

The Liturgy will be in the air conditioned upper main church.  The traditional blessing with a relic of St. Ann follows.

The annual nine-day solemn novena to St. Ann at the National Shrine of the Basilica of St. Ann, Scranton begins on Wednesday, July 17 and culminates on Friday, July 26, the feast day of St. Ann.

For information about the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic visit :  eparchyofpassaic.com

In Addition to Photos (top of this page):  Photo Gallery Byzantine Liturgy at St. Ann Basilica

Novena week is the largest gathering of Catholic faithful coming from points near and far, focused in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Several thousand people attend daily Masses and the novena.  It is a beautiful tradition and pilgrimage for all faithful.

A key anticipated feature is the daily preached message. This year’s Passionist preachers are Fr. Jack Conley, C.P., and Fr. Rick Frechette, C.P., D.O..   Fr. Rick is known for his work as medical physician with the poor and marginalized in Haiti.  We look forward to being guided spiritually by both preachers in our challenge to be people of light and faith in a world of darkness and trials.

 

If you plan to attend the Divine Liturgy on July 23rd, it is recommended to arrive very early if you wish to avoid traffic.   You will want to have time for a visit around the Shrine; visit the gift shop, light a candle, and have prayer time in the lower church in front of the icon of St. Ann and the Holy Theotokos.

We are ever grateful to the Passionist community, staff, and St. Ann parish family at the Monastery who are always our gracious hosts and friends.  It is a gift and blessing to be united as Catholics in worship to God and with reverence to St. Ann.

For those who like to make it a day event, a food stand with a large menu of homemade items with a daily feature and dining tent is located at the lower end of the grounds courtesy of St. Ann’s parish volunteers.  Relaxing with other pilgrims is a great way to make new friends and share reflections.

 

Hope to see everyone in Scranton for novena week!

Let us pray for great weather to the benefit of all.

Additional information will be on St. Ann Scranton Novena Facebook page and more features at stannsnovena.com.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Novena Week :

If you cannot attend you can listen on
JMJ Catholic Radio 98.9 FM
12 noon (Mass) 12:30 pm (Novena)
7:00 pm (Mass) 7:30 pm (Novena)

DAILY Novena Devotions after each DAILY Mass :
8:00 & 11:45 am 5:30 & 7:30 pm
Novena Service only 3:30 pm daily in the Basilica
Solemn Adoration with the Blessed Sacrament 12:30 to 3:15 P.M. Daily – Lower Basilica
Confessions Before all Masses & after all Services

FRIDAY JULY 19
1:30 pm Mass of the Anointing of the Sick Thursday – Main Basilica

SATURDAY  JULY 20
10 am  Children’s Mass & Novena & Blessing for Families and Grandparents

SUNDAY JULY 21
Masses at 8:00, 9:30 & 11:45 A.M. 5:30 & 7:30 P.M.
9:30 am in TAMIL language in Lower Basilica

 

TUESDAY  JULY 23
4:30 pm
Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy

Eastern Rite of Catholic Church

Bishop Kurt Burnette, Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, NJ
This Liturgy is in place of the 5:30 pm Mass/novena

(Click on blue text above for History)

 

All Night Adoration (Eve of the Feast)
9:00 pm until first Mass at 4:30 am

FRIDAY JULY 26  St. Ann’s Feast Day
Masses:  4:30, 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, & 11:45 A.M.
1:15 pm – Polish (Upper Basilica)
3:30 (Novena only)
Mass: 5:30 pm
7:30 pm **  Pontifical Closing
with Bishop Joseph Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.

 


Divine Liturgy at the Basilica of St. Ann, Scranton, Pennsylvania

A Divine Liturgy is celebrated annually at the Basilica of St. Ann, Scranton, Pennsylvania.

The annual novena to St. Ann draws thousands of faithful pilgrims from July 17 through July 26, the feast day of St. Ann on the Latin calendar (July 25 : Dormition of St. Ann on Eastern rite Calendar).  Novena week is observed with multiple daily Roman Catholic Masses and daily novena prayer services with inspirational preaching. Each year for four decades, a Byzantine Catholic Liturgy has also been featured.

The Bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, New Jersery  presides at the Divine Liturgy with area priests and deacons as concelebrants, and altar servers and choir members assisting.   The photos seen below are a sample of the annual event, taken at the 2018 Liturgy with Bishop Kurt Burnett as the main celebrant.  The Passionist preachers for the 2018 novena were Rev. Don Ware, C.P. and Rev. Michael Rowe, C.P..   The Rev. Don Ware, C.P. is pictured below with Bishop Kurt.

Photos appear in sequential order including:  the great incensing of the church and faithful, chanting of litanies, the Epistle and Gospel readings, homily, singing of the Nicene Creed, the Anaphora (Eucharistic prayers) and Epiclesis (consecration of the Holy Eucharist), and following the Liturgy were the closing with novena prayers and blessing with relic of St. Ann.

 

   For a description of the history of the Divine Liturgy during St. Ann novena week: click here.

†   Click on any photo to open to Slide Photo View

Byzantine Liturgy at St. Ann Basilica, Scranton – to be held on July 23, 2018

Byzantine Liturgy at St. Ann Novena 2017

2018 Divine Liturgy at Basilica of St. Ann will be held on Monday, July 23 – 4:30 p.m.

 

†   For full description and additional photos:  Click Here for Photos of Liturgy with Bishop Kurt Burnette

The annual novena to St. Ann draws thousands of faithful pilgrims from July 17 through July 26, the feast day of St. Ann on the Latin calendar.

Bishop Kurt Burnette of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, New Jersery will preside at this year’s Liturgy with area priests and deacons as concelebrants, and area altar servers and choir members assisting.

The Liturgy will be in the upper main church.  All are invited to attend in witness to the beauty and expression of our Eastern rite traditions at this blessed and historic site.   Everyone attending will receive the traditional blessing with a relic of St. Ann following the Liturgy.

Pope Saint John Paul II declared St. Ann Monastery and Church as a National Shrine to be a Minor Basilica on October 27, 1997. The novena has a long history dating back to the early 1900’s when the monastery was founded by the Passionist order and the Roman Catholic diocese of Scranton.

Novena week is observed with multiple daily Latin rite Masses and novena prayer services with inspirational preaching.  This year’s Passionist preachers are Rev. Don Ware, C.P. and Rev. Michael Rowe, C.P.

Over four decades, every bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic since Bishop Michael J. Dudick, has visited the monastery and celebrated Liturgy at the Basilica. Through the vision of Bishop Dudick, the Byzantine Liturgy during novena week became an established tradition at the Shrine.   The entire Passionist community, staff, and parish family at the Monastery have continued to be gracious hosts and friends.  It is a gift and blessing to be united as Catholics in worship to God and with reverence to St. Ann.

Opportunities for Sacrament of Reconciliation are available before and after the regular daily novena services; it is recommended to arrive very early for parking, or to have time for a visit around the Shrine; or prayer time in the lower church before the icon of St. Ann and the Holy Theotokos, an icon presented from our Eparchy of Passaic.  A food stand is located at the lower end of the grounds courtesy of St. Ann’s parish volunteers.

Hope to see everyone in Scranton for novena week!

 


Directions and additional information may be found online.

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Novena Week Services include:

Novena Preachers : Fr. Michael Rowe, C.P. & Fr. Donald Ware, C.P.

Novena can be heard on local Catholic EWTN affiliate radio:  JMJ 98.9 FM 12 noon and 8 to 9 pm daily

Novena Devotions after each Mass : 8:00 & 11:45 am 5:30 & 7:30 pm & Novena Service only 3:30 pm daily in the Basilica   — Solemn  Adoration Blessed Sacrament 12:30 to 3:15 P.M. Daily – Lower Basilica — Confessions Before all Masses & after all Services

SUNDAY JULY 22  —–  Schedule: 8:00, 9:30 & 11:45 A.M. 5:30 & 7:30 P.M.  ** 9:30 am in TAMIL Language in Lower Basilica

THURSDAY JULY 19 —–  1:30 pm Mass of the Anointing of the Sick Thursday – Basilica
SATURDAY  JULY 21 —–  10 am  Children’s Mass & Novena     Special Blessing for Families and Grandparents

MONDAY  JULY 23  ——–  4:30 pm Divine Liturgy Eastern Rite of Catholic Church
Bishop Kurt Burnette, Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, NJ
This Liturgy is in place of the 5:30 pm Mass/novena

All Night Adoration (Eve of the Feast) 9:00 pm until first Mass at 4:30 am

THURSDAY  JULY 26  St. Ann’s Feast Day ——–  Mass Schedule:  4:30, 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, & 11:45 A.M. 3:30 (Novena only) & 5:30 pm 7:30 pm **  Pontifical Closing with Bishop Joseph Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.  **  Language Service – 1:15 pm – Polish (Upper Basilica) **

 

Visit St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church, Pittston home page  https://stmichaelsbyzantine.com  for additional topics

Christ is Risen! Indeed He Is Risen!

“It is the day of Resurrection.  O People, let us be enlightened by it.
The Passover is the Lord’s Passover, since Christ, our God, has brought us from death to life,
and from earth to heaven.
Therefore we sing the hymn of victory!”

The words above from Ode 1 of the Resurrection Canon summarize what the Resurrection of Jesus Christ accomplished across all measures of time and space for all people.   Our hymn of victory is our proclamation that “Christ is Risen” and that He is our God, “the Giver of Life”.

IMG_2021 (1012x1024) (2)Our Hymn of Victory is made visual each time we see the symbolic letters of IC XC NIKA,  shorthand derived from the Greek language meaning  JESUS CHRIST CONQUERS!   Everytime we see these letters — on icons, on our hymnal books, in stained glass windows, and also imprinted on the prosphora the priest uses for Holy Communion — we are emboldened with strength in knowing that regardless of any hardships we have, that Christ triumphs over darkness.

We turn to Christ as a trusting child, knowing that the victory he has won for us is the answer.

The victory of our Risen Savior is found in another beautiful hymn sung at Resurrection Matins, the Hypakoje, gives a wonderful description of what we read in the New Testament — the discovery of the empty tomb, and along with this, a short command given to the “myrrh-bearing” women to act immediately.   A call to action, nonetheless!  This is also a command for us to go and be disciples.  To joyfully proclaim the same wonderous news to all.  When we share the “kerygma” we are following in the footsteps of the women at the tomb who in their discovery were the first to proclaim the revelation of the good news.

“The women with Mary, before the dawn, found the stone rolled away from the tomb – And they, heard the Angel say: ‘Why do you seek among the dead as a mortal , the One who abides in everlasting light?  Behold, the linens of burial – Go in haste and proclaim to the world – that having, conquered Death, the Lord is risen for He is the Son of God, the Savior of mankind.”

And as we rejoice and celebrate, we sing with emphasis the words of another refrain:

“All you who been baptized into Christ, have been clothed with Christ! Alleluia!

The church wisely reminds us that we are clothed in Christ as having been initiated into the Body of Christ through the Sacraments.  We live in Christ and Christ lives in us.   This is such a great gift freely and sacrificially earned for us by our Lord and Savior.   Such a victory!  Such a gift !  No one can give such a valuable gift as this !   Every time we receive the Sacraments, we renew our life in Christ.   Let us be mindful when we approach the Sacraments, such as Holy Communion, who we are receiving and what a sacred privilege to be so closely united with Christ, to be filled with all the graces and love He pours into our soul.

Not inconsequentially — our promise to God in our baptism is to live our Christian beliefs, all that Jesus taught his own disciples.  We are pledged and commissioned, just as the angel instructed the women at the empty tomb, to share through action and words, the message and joy of the Gospel.

023 (768x1024)
This is why in the Byzantine Catholic Church we sing repeatedly:   “Christ is Risen!”  It is just as He foretold.  The amazing power of God.

May we strive with unfailing intention, to bring the spirit of that  first Easter and evidence of our life in Christ to those we encounter along our life path.

Christ is Risen !  Indeed He IS Risen !

You can find more about these related topics on this website:

Pascha-Resurrection

Explanation of the Descent into Hades Icon