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Last year on Memorial Day weekend, I went along with my priest, Fr. Andrew Bartek and a few other parishioners for grave blessings at cemeteries around the area. Earlier that week, my friends and I had a conversation about Memorial Day weekend plans. All of my other friends had been describing their party plans and their family picnics and their fireworks watching. Then came my turn to tell everyone of my upcoming weekend plans. I explained to them that I was going to attend grave blessings with my Church and we were going to have a Liturgy at one of the cemeteries. I still remember the look my friend Sarah gave me when she asked, "You consider that fun? Hanging with your Church all weekend?" At that moment, they all laughed and called me a weirdo. I started to think about the weekend ahead.
It didn't dawn on me until the first day of grave blessings just how wrong Sarah had been. Singing Christ is Risen in the cemetery over the graves of the departed was something I wish she could've been part of. To me, that was one of the most beautiful services I had ever been involved in. It was so uplifting to sing in the joyous tones of Pascha instead of the somber tones we are used to hearing during a Panachida. I felt as if the souls of all the departed sang along with us celebrating Christ's Resurrection just as we were and still are today.
So, as far as my Memorial Day weekend went, it was not only fun, but it showed me that the living aren't the only ones celebrating Pascha. All of the souls of our loved ones are in heaven celebrating it as well. It has also inspired me to continue going in the years to come. I just wanted to thank Father Andrew for inviting me and making my vacation fun and one that I will never forget!
Chloe Webb - St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Scranton, PA