Earlier in the afternoon, a crew sets up the Paschal tables for breakfast. After 7 weeks of strict fasting, it is truly a marvel to behold, as the tables are covered with white covers, upon which Kulichi, the Russian Paschal sweet breads are laid along with red eggs. Also provided for breakfast are chocolates, Paschal cheese, butter, bread, milk, an assortment of cheeses, and coffee.
At 11:15 PM, His Grace Bishop Luke walks to church, where he is ceremoniously greeted, although in great silence, so as not to break the anticipation of the upcoming service. He then Is led into the altar, where he is vested by his subdeacons. All the concelebrating clergy also vest themselves and prepare for the beginning of Paschal matins. Upon conclusion of the Paschal Midinight service, the shroud is brought back in to the altar.
At 12 midnight promptly, His Grace, Bishop Luke begins censing the clergy and the altar at one glance. Upon the second censing, the bishop censes all the priests, and upon the Third censing, the Royal Gates are swung open, and the clergy choir sings in a strong and clear voice, announcing along with priests the glad tidings.
The actual Paschal matins is commenced on front of the steps of the cathedral. Upon completion of the announcement of the Resurrection of Christ, to the accompanying of the bells, the procession returns to the middle of church, at which point the Paschal canon is sung, with the clergy and the choir singing antiphonally.
Upon completion of the Canon, the clergy return to the altar and give each other the Paschal kiss, whereupon the matins part of the service is completed after the chanting of the Lauds. At this point, two Paschal “hours” are chanted, and the Divine Liturgy is commenced. One distinguishing characteristic of this liturgy is the chanting of the Gospel reading, from St. John the Theologian, in different languages. This year, the Gospel reading was done in Greek, English, Spanish, and Church Slavonic. Light “perezvon” chimes are rung. This signifies the universality of the Gospel of Our Lord.
Most of the numerous faithful remained for the liturgy and availed themselves of receiving the Holy Mysteries. At the conclusion of the liturgy, all the faithful greeted each other, upon the conclusion of which there was a procession of His Grace with the clergy and the choir to the refectory, where the breakfast foods were blessed with Holy Water, and a long-awaited Paschal repast was enjoyed by the brethren, who praised the Lord for the great joy in being able to celebrate so solemnly His Holy Resurrection.