Day of Rejoicing


Augustine Sokolovski

On the 10th day after Easter, in the Russian liturgical tradition, and therefore in the churches historically associated with the Russian Church, a special commemoration of the departed is performed. This day is called ‘Radonitsa’ – which in Church Slavonic literally means “Day of Rejoicing”. It always falls on Tuesday of the second week after the Easter celebration.

The very word "Radonitsa" has neither theological nor liturgical meaning. To understand the meaning of this day of commemoration, it is necessary to understand the essence of the Easter celebration.

The services of Easter Sunday and the following days of the Easter Week are built in the same way. At the same time, in the divine service of the Week, when changing hymns are sung, the tone changes every day. Usually, during the liturgical year, they change on a weekly basis. At the same time, on Easter week, along with Easter hymns, Sunday hymns are used.

Thus, it turns out that after Easter Sunday, in the liturgical sense, there are seven Sundays. The last of which is the is called Sunday of Thomas the Apostle. This day is not only a celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, but also a celebration in honor of the Descent of Christ into Hell.

The Sunday of the Apostle Thomas is the Sunday immediately following Easter. Easter Sunday with Easter Week and Sunday of the Apostle Thomas – these two Sundays are, as it were, two “successive” Easters.

The liturgy of St. Thomas Sunday is not simply the divine service of Easter Sunday. It follows the structure of the divine service of the “ordinary” Sunday, although its content is solemnly Paschal. That is, the Easter following Easter. Easter after Easter. The symbol of the Paschal Triumph, which continues until the day of Holy Pentecost. Hence, the name “Antipascha”, used in the Greek Orthodox tradition.

It is important to remember that the commemoration of the dead is always performed during the divine service during the reading of the Eucharistic canon by the priest, or by the bishop. The departed are also commemorated by the Church both on Easter night and on all days of Easter Week! This commemoration is regular, customary, obligatory. But, in essence, it is extremely important because it is an Easter. Commemoration.

However, since the Eucharistic prayer, that commemorates the dead, as a rule, was not read aloud in previous centuries, faithful standing in the church formed the conviction that the Church on Easter days stops praying for the dead. This opinion is wrong. Moreover, it is false, for it contradicts the essence of the Paschal dogma, which unites in a single stand before God the earthly and heavenly Church.

“I tell you a secret: not all of us will die, but we will all change, suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed,” Paul writes in his Epistle to the Corinthians about the resurrection of the dead on the last day (1 Cor. 15:51-52). The "sacramental rehearsal" of this event is the service of the Night of the Resurrection of Christ and Easter days.

In addition to the commemoration by name of the departed during regular liturgies in the Church, there is a special way of commemoration, in which the “usual”, liturgy is changed in content. Hymns, troparia, prayers, readings dedicated to the commemoration of the departed are attached to the unchanging framework of worship. Such a “modified” matins is one of the most important memorial services in the orthodox tradition. These funeral liturgies are performed by the Church on Universal funeral Saturdays, and at the solemn funeral of the departed.

The celebration of such divine services on Sundays and Easter days is impossible, since it is incompatible in meaning and content with the joy of Celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. And although the liturgical day, like the day in the biblical sense, and in the story of the Creation of the World in the Book of Genesis, begins in the evening, the funeral services on Sunday evening are also not allowed. This applies especially to the following Sunday after Easter – the Sunday of the Apostle Thomas.

So, according to the liturgical canon, the first possible day for the liturgical commemoration of the dead after Easter is Tuesday. Tuesday of St. Thomas Week begins on Monday evening. From this very important sequence of meanings comes the Orthodox commemoration of the dead on the Day of Rejoicing.