The Holy Fifty Days is a very special period. It is a time that is filled with joy: the joy of the resurrection. During this time, the church is decorated with white curtains and white flags and the festal (joyful) tune is used in all the prayers even funerals. During this time the church lives the life of great joy that the disciples lived after Christ’s resurrection, as we read in the gospel, “Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20). They were very happy because Christ was with them. We also live this same happiness since Christ is present with us and that He is alive and has defeated death and come out victorious and has given us this victory.
During the Holy Fifty Days, we do not fast at all and we do not do any prostrations (metanoias). The reason for this is not to have a break after the Great Lent and Pascha Week, but rather it is to teach us to rejoice in the Lord and to reap the rewards of the Great Lent with joy. As this is the time of celebrating Christ’s presence among us, we cannot fast, we can only rejoice, and praise him, and celebrate His living presence, and partake of His Body and Blood. We should also try to bring this joy to others: that Christ is alive and has trampled death by death.
During the Holy Fifty Days, verses of the cymbals are chanted in the joyful tune. Also the following “Hitenis” are added to the regular: Archangel Michael, which is specific for the Feast of the Resurrection; Joseph, Nicodemus, and Mary Magdalene, which is also specific for the Feast of the Resurrection. After the Catholic Epistle, a specific Praxis response is chanted.
During the Holy Fifty Days, the Synaxarium (stories of the lives of the saints) is not read; this is because the church during this time wants to focus all her attention on celebrating the resurrection of
Christ, rather than celebrating the saints of the day. Right after the reading of Acts; however, instead of the Synaxarium we chant the hymn “All you heavenly hosts” and then we do the procession of the resurrection while chanting they hymn “Khristos Anesti”. The procession of the resurrection is done in every Liturgy because we are celebrating Christ’s resurrection and His presence in our midst as the icon of the resurrection is carried during the procession throughout the entire church among the congregation. It is also because during the 40 days after the resurrection Christ was appearing to the disciples and teaching them about the Kingdom of God. He was present in their midst and this led them
to experience great joy that lasted them for the rest of their lives. After Christ’s ascension, the disciples were still very joyful. Although they no longer saw Him with their physical eyes they saw Him in a different way with the eyes of faith. After the Feast of the Ascension, after 40 days, the procession is only done in the altar as Christ has ascended to heaven which is the altar.
After this the Trisagion (Agios) is chanted in the joyful tune. Then after the gospel the specific response is chanted in the joyful tune.
May God fill us with the joy of His Resurrection and reveal to us His presence among us and help us to rejoice in Him during this great time of joy.
Think about it:
- Which Hitenis are added during the Holy Fifty days?
- Why do we not fast during the Holy Fifty days?
- What hymn do we sing during the procession of the res