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Easter 2023 in the Eastern Churches – Orthodox and Greek Catholics

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The Orthodox and the faithful of other Eastern rites, e.g. Greek Catholics began celebrating Easter on Sunday, which this year falls a week later for them than for Catholics. – A special year is behind us, this is the second Easter celebrated during the full-scale aggression of Russia against Ukraine – reminded the clergy. He wished the faithful President Andrzej Duda and First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda.

The date of this holiday in the Catholic Church is calculated slightly differently than in the Eastern Church, so Easter falls on the same date in both rites only once in a while. This was the case, for example, in 2017; mostly Orthodox, however, celebrate Easter later, up to five weeks after Catholics.

Hierarchs to believers: the church is facing difficult trials

On Sunday morning in the Orthodox churches, Easter matins lasting several hours and liturgies starting at midnight ended. In the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Białystok – the capital of the province, where there are the largest groups of Orthodox Christians in the country – the ceremony was presided over by the Ordinary of the Orthodox Diocese of Białystok and Gdańsk, Archbishop Jakub. Even before the night Easter services began, many Orthodox parishes across the country had received the Holy Fire from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, brought to the country on Holy Saturday evening by a delegation of the Polish Orthodox Church.

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Read also: What does Orthodox Easter look like – traditions, dates, dishes

The delegation of the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church (PAKP) has been going for the fire every year for 14 years; departure this year Israel was possible thanks to the support of the faithful of the Orthodox Church, the financial assistance of the Podlaskie Voivodeship self-government and the organizational assistance of the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland. In the paschal letter, PAKP hierarchs emphasize that the modern world is undergoing “a process of reorganization of personal and social life, there is a breakdown of existing concepts and customs.”

“The Church is facing difficult processes regarding human freedom, dignity and morality. The level of spiritual responsibility and culture is falling, a healthy family is breaking down, crime is growing. Satan’s actions deal a great blow to human personality. The spiritual degradation of man becomes the main source of pathology” – they write in message. “Unfortunately, today’s humanity, including Orthodox believers, does not notice the denial of God’s commandments. All this fills our hearts with pain. We appeal to everyone for vigilance, perseverance, courage and sensitivity to various pathologies. This is our Orthodox mission. responsibility, humanity today experiences a lot – dissension, division, wars like those in Ukraine, Palestine, Africa. This is the pain of modern times, stress the Orthodox hierarchs. Let us try to make spiritual gifts full of Easter joy: love, joy, peace, generosity, kindness, mercy, faith, meekness, temperance. They will help us better understand the phenomena of our time: divisions, hostility, conflicts, wars and all kinds of injustice, they appealed. Their own Easter messages to the faithful and clergy were also addressed by, among others, the head of the Orthodox Church in Poland, Metropolitan Sawa and Archbishop Jakub.

Morning liturgy on Resurrection Sunday in the Greek Catholic Cathedral in PrzemyślPAP/Darek Delmanowicz

Sunday Easter breakfast is for many faithful the first hearty meal after a very strict fast in Holy Week, and for some – after the whole period of Lent without meat and even dairy products. In some families, it was eaten in the morning, after returning from several hours of Easter services. Foods blessed on Holy Saturday also appeared on the table.

“Second Easter Celebrated During Russia’s Full-scale Aggression on Ukraine”

In the Olsztyn Greek Catholic Church of the Protection of the Mother of God, which is also the cathedral of the Olsztyn-Gdańsk eparchy of this church, an Easter service was held on Sunday morning. – With the Resurrection, Christ encourages each of us to build a world where peace, love and good reign – said Greek Catholic Bishop Arkadiusz Trochanowski.

– May the resurrection give us strength and strengthen our hearts with peace and tranquility, which we all need now – he emphasized.

Read also: Holy Saturday in the Orthodox rite. Where there is no church, priests come

In his homily, the hierarch devoted a lot of space to the situation in Ukraine and thanked the faithful living in Poland for helping those in need. – A special year is behind us, this is the second Easter celebrated during the full-scale aggression of Russia against Ukraine. It’s been a year that has brought a lot of pain, worry and death. At that time, we witnessed a great migration of people, but also spontaneous and organized humanitarian aid. Many of you were like a good Samaritan: you wiped wounds and tears, you comforted the suffering, you healed wounds and traumas on souls with the help of God’s Word,” said Bishop Trochanowski and added that such behavior showed that those helping war refugees “understand in a Christian way that life is more precious than death, that good overcomes evil.” – We must make every effort to ensure that as many people as possible experience the resurrection of Christ. This will happen when we show our faith, when we show who for us is the source of our renewal every day. May the words of hope of today’s holiday flow to Ukraine, which needs peace and spiritual rebirth, he said.Recalling the words of the head of the Church of Sviatoslav, Bishop Trochanowski expressed hope that after war in Ukraine “a new world will arise, a world where there will be no more evil, where evil will be defeated, a world where man will feel worthy and human life will be respected.”

In Poland, about half a million believers. But before the war in Ukraine

Due to the presence in Poland of war refugees from Ukraine, where the dominant denominations are the Orthodox Church and the Greek Catholic Church, Christmas meetings for refugees have been planned in some cities. An Easter breakfast for several hundred people is planned in Białystok. There are no exact data on the number of Orthodox Christians in Poland. The hierarchs of this Church estimate that there are about 500,000 faithful. This number was also provided by the Central Statistical Office in the recently published report “Religious denominations in Poland in 2019-2021”. In the previous census, 156,000 people declared belonging to the Orthodox Church in Poland. people, however, these data are considered unreliable by the hierarchs. Data in this area from the last census, conducted in 2021, is not yet available

Greetings from the President and First Lady

Presidential couple on Sunday morning Andrzej Duda and Agata Kornhauser-Duda wished Easter to the clergy and faithful of the Eastern Churches.

– In the joyful, festive time of Christ’s Passover, we cordially greet all the clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church, the Greek Catholic Church and other Eastern Churches in our country. Please accept my best Easter wishes – said President Andrzej Duda. First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda She stressed that “Easter strengthens hearts, fills with trust, brings peace”. – May the Paschal message about the resurrection – about the victory of good over evil – be a source of spiritual strength for all of us and let it unite us into a community of solidarity – she added.

The president recalled that “the Eastern tradition is part of Polish religiosity, history and culture.” – Our country has been a meeting place for the West and the East for centuries. Also today, citizens of the Republic of Poland of various denominations and traditions live in harmony, peace and mutual respect. It is with all the greater sympathy that we look at the tragedy of Ukraine, which is defending itself against the brutal aggression of Russia, stressed the president. The first lady pointed out that “this is the second Easter that we celebrate together, in solidarity, with war refugees from Ukraine – victims of Russian aggression”. – Support for needy brothers and sisters from Ukraine is carried with great commitment by our entire society, including churches and religious communities in our homeland – she emphasized. The president thanked “for open hearts, for all the gestures of solidarity”. – This is a great testimony of generosity and Christian love of neighbor – he assessed. The presidential couple wished “a joyful, peaceful and pleasant Easter with your family, relatives and friends”. – Let hope, optimism and spring mood reign in your homes. We wish you health and every success – said Agata Kornhauser-Duda.

Main photo source: PAP/Darek Delmanowicz



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