Friday, April 17, 2015

Easter in Quossaya

The Orthodox Church knows how to be ceremonial. On Good Friday we were invited to join sister Barcenia at 8:30 am in the third row on the women's side of the sanctuary. The service lasted until 5:00 pm, but we were told to go have lunch at 12:30 pm. Everyone else was abstaining from eating or drinking. We returned at 3:00 pm for the sermon and then stayed till the end. During the service a cross was buried in a box to symbolize the burial of Christ. The congregation said 400 Kyrie eliesons, 100 facing each of the compass points. Many people went to their knees after each phrase. They got a lot of exercise in that way. The phrase is believed to be very powerful, as it is said to be the phrase used to literally move a mountain in Egypt many years ago.

At 7:00 pm we were invited to a parishioner's house where we were given a wonderful supper of fasting food. The Orthodox give up animal products for lent.

We decided to skip the prayers from 11:00 pm until 6:00 am opting to sleep off some jet lag instead.

On Saturday was the big celebration. The service was from 8:00 pm until midnight followed by a breaking of the fast supper at the Bishop's guesthouse. During the service the cross was resurrected and paraded around the church.

It was great to see how many young people were actively participating in the ceremony.
I was shocked to find that Sunday there was no service. The bishop received visitors all day at his guesthouse where we were staying. It sounded like hundreds of people trying to talk to each other over the noise of the other people trying to talk to each other. This went on from 8:00 am until 9:30 pm with a short lunch break at 1:00 pm. 

We were then invited to the same parishioner's home for a meat fest. Turkey, beef, schnitzel, chicken and koofta. Even the mashed potatoes had chicken in them. Everything was excellent.

We now think that sitting in church for two hours is nothing.

Monday was a national holiday called "Smell the Breezes". We spent the morning relaxing and took the train back to Cairo in the afternoon arriving at home by 11:30 pm.