Monday, April 21, 2014

I Found the Joy of Easter

Me and the other guys just a moment before we became members of the church.
I am second from left.

Father Matti, and me (second from right) and the other "catechumens".

On the Great Saturday, we were accepted to become amembers of the parish in a formal
and beautiful ceremony called Chrismation (Russian: миропомазание, Finnish: mirhalla
voitelu, a direct translation: "anointing").

The priest anoints the recipient with "chrism", making the sign of the cross on the
forehead, eyes, ears, nostrils, breast, back, hands and feet using the following words
each time: "The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit."

We got candles and also white roses after the ceremony.

As I told you before, I spent the Easter weekend at the Orthodox Church of Vaasa. I attended many services, and on the Great Saturday I was accepted to become a member of the parish in a formal and beautiful ceremony. At last, I am officially Orthodox Christian. A long, long journey has come to an end. This process began already in the summer of 2011, after my mother's passing. Now I feel like I have returned home.

Easter Night Service in the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church was stunningly beautiful, and it lasted for three hours (from 11:30 pm till 2:30 am). There were a lot of people from many different nationalities: Finns and Russians, Ukrainians, Greeks, Serbs, Ethiopians, and so on. All in all, our church has members from 24 different countries and they speak 14 different languages. Indeed, it's a very international organisation.

On the Easter Vigil, all who wanted, got the chance to ring the church bells. So I tried it too, and it was not easy at all to make it sound good. Haha. (One of my friends, Victor from Moscow, is a professional bell ringer, and I really admire him.) There was also a traditional outdoor procession around the church. In the procession, I carried the icon of the Mother of God.

I spent two nights in the church basement, in the room called playfully the "Crypt" by the members of the parish. My good friend also visited me on Friday evening. When I wasn't participating services, I was reading and praying in the Crypt. For me, it was like a monk's cell. (^—^) The book I was reading was the Orthodox Catechism written by Ivan Glukhov (he was a great teacher of theology from Moscow, died in 1999).

In summary, this was the happiest and the most memorable Easter in my life. I can say that now I have found the joy of Easter. Indeed, Christianity is a religion of joy, like Ivan Glukhov said.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I put here some photos from my trip.
Note! A new photos added on 24 April, 2014.
Please click on the pictures to see them bigger.

Text by Teisuka
Photos by Jussi and Teisuka

Me in the church on April 19, 2014.

 St. Nicholas Church in the Easter morning light.

 A dome of the church.

 A view inside of the church before the service.

 My modest bed in the church basement.

 Orthodox Catechism written by Ivan Glukhov. This book is a real gem,
an extensive and detailed guide to the Orthodox faith, including more
than 500 pages.

Next to the church is the Lotta Svärd statue, designed by Tea Helene-
lund, unveiled in 2005. Lotta Svärd was a Finnish voluntary national
defence organisation for women that was active between 1921 and 1944.
The organisation was religious-patriotic, unarmed and non-political.

A view from the city center of Vaasa.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happy Easter to My Friends!

The Resurrection of Christ, the icon of the Holy and Great Saturday.

I'd like to wish a Happy Easter to all my friends in advance, because I'm going to spend the next few days (from Friday to Sunday) in Vaasa and the Orthodox Church. I will spend my nights in the church basement. I have a special permit for that. (^—^) On the "Great Saturday" (April 19), I will become a member of the Church.

Probably, I'm not able to see my messages or blog comments before I return home on Sunday evening. So let me say once again: Happy Easter to my dear friends! I keep you all in my prayers. До свидания – "Until we meet again"!

Peace and blessings,


P.S. On the Easter Night, I'll whisper these words (with three kisses) to my angel: «Воистину Воскресе!» Because I know you will say the first words... ( ̄ー ̄)

P.S. 2. In the Orthodox Church, Easter is called Pascha. See also my previous blog article titled "Christ is Risen!" Easter Greetings in Many Languages.