My beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ.
Χριστός Ανέστη! Christ is Risen!
Αληθώς Ανέστη! Truly He is Risen!
The reading is from the Holy Gospel according
to Saint Mark.
Let us attend.
Glory To Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee.
Chapter 16: 1-8
And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome,
bought spices, that they might go and anoint Him. And very early on the first day of the week,
they came to the tomb, when the sun had just risen. And they were saying to one another, ‘Who
will roll the stone back from the entrance of the tomb for us?’ And looking up they saw that the
stone had been rolled back, for it was very large. But on entering the tomb, they saw a young
man sitting at the right side, clothed in a white robe and they were amazed. He said to them,
‘Do not be terrified. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified? He has risen, He
is not here. Behold the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He
goes before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as he told you.’ And they departed and
fled from the tomb, for trembling and fear had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone,
for they were afraid.
Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee.
Priest: Glory to the Holy and consubstantial and Life-Giving and Undivided Trinity,
always, now, and forever. Amen.
Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling
upon Death, and to those in the tombs
"The Day of Resurrection! Let us be illumined, O ye people!
The Passover of the Lord! From death unto life, and from
earth unto heaven hath Christ Our God brought us over,
singing a song of Victory!" (Saint Gregory the Theologian)
Celebrating the Day of Pascha, Joseph Vryenios, a disciple of Saint Gregory Palamas and teacher of Saint Mark Evgenikos, analyses the theological meaning of the Feast. Pascha IS THE CROSSING FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT, COMING FORTH FROM HADES TO THE EARTH, RISING FROM EARTH TO HEAVEN, CHANGING FROM DEATH TO LIFE, RESURRECTION OF FALLEN MORTALS, RECALLING OF THOSE BANISHED FROM EDEN, DELIVERANCE OF THOSE IN CAPTIVITY TO CORRUPTION, THE TRUE LIFE OF THE FAITHFUL, DELIGHT OF ALL THE WORLD, HONOR OF THE DIVINE TRINITY.
If the Feast of Christ’s Resurrection is the annual Pascha, there is also THE WEEKLY PASCHA. Every Lord’s Day (Sunday) the man of faith celebrates Pascha. And indeed the Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ enables him to participate in Pascha. Saint John Chrysostom says characteristically: "For Pascha is not a fast, but AN OFFERING AND SACRIFICE, THE GATHERING ONE BY ONE. "For every time we come together for a Eucharistic gathering, with the necessary Ecclesiological preconditions, the powers of Satan are put down (Saint Ignatios Theophoros) and we have the feeling that death has been conquered.
Not only the Feast is called Pascha, as a change from death to life, but so is Christ Himself. Moreover, man’s salvation is not known apart from the Godman, since He IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE. He is MAN’S RESURRECTION. Therefore in the Canon of Paschal Feast Saint John of Damascus ascribes to Christ the characterization "Passover, Pascha." He writes: "O Christ, the Passover great and most Holy! O Wisdom, Logos/Word, and Power of God!" This characterization is related to the Apostle Paul’s words: "For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sanctified for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Therefore, through Christ, Who is the Living Passover, we too can experience the Passover, which IS THE CROSSING FROM DEATH INTO LIFE.
Christ’s Resurrection SHOULD NOT BE CELEBRATED AS A HISTORICAL OR SOCIAL EVENT, but AS EXISTENTIAL, WHICH MEANS THAT IT SHOULD A PARTICIPATION IN THE GRACE OF THE RESURRECTION. The fasting which precedes the Feast during the whole of Lent, THE ASCETIC STRUGGLE, aims at the best participation in the Mystery of the Resurrection. In order to be successful, however, this requires, as all the Holy Fathers teach, PURIFICATION OF THE SENSES OF BOTH BODY AND SOUL. Saint John of Damascus sings: "Let us purify our senses and we shall behold Christ, radiant with the Light Ineffable of the Resurrection, and shall hear Him say, in accents clear: REJOICE! AS WE SING THE SONG OF VICTORY." Thus PURIFICATION IS A NECESSARY PRECONDITION FOR VISION OF GOD AND COMMUNION WITH GOD. Saint Gregory the Theologian says: "Therefore, first one must be purified, then one must converse in purity."
The purpose of the SPIRITUAL LIFE is for ONE TO BE UNITED WITH THE RISEN CHRIST, TO SEE HIM IN ONE’S HEART. Christ is risen in OUR HEART, MORTIFYING THE PASSIONATE THOUGHTS WHICH ARE PRESENT THERE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE DEMONS AND OVERCOMING THE IMPASSIONED REPRESENTATION AND PREOCCUPATION OF SIN, JUST AS THEN HE OVERCAME THE SEALS OF THE TOMB (Saint Maximos the Confessor). Therefore it is not a question of an outward symbolic celebration but of AN INNER AND EXISTENTIAL ONE. In this light Saint Gregory the Theologian recommends that we should not celebrate in a festive and worldly manner BUT IN A GODLY AND HEAVENLY MANNER.
Participation in the mystery of the Resurrection IS AN EXPERIENCE OF DEIFICATION (THEOSIS). He who has been initiated into the ineffable power of the Resurrection has realized from experience what Christ’s purpose was in creating the world (Saint Maximos the Confessor). In reality, MAN WAS CREATED IN ORDER TO ATTAIN DEIFICATION (THEOSIS), AND THE WORLD TO SHARE IN THE SANCTIFICATION THROUGH MAN. Then he who is initiated into this ineffable power of the mystery of the Resurrection attains deification (Theosis) and fulfills the purpose of his existence. Thus he acquires greater knowledge.
The holy Apostle Paul commends this experience of life, and therefore he writes that we have been buried through Holy Baptism with Christ into death, "that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). This REBIRTH IS ESSENTIAL because otherwise, man will die spiritually, according to the words of the Apostle Paul: "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, YOU WILL LIVE" (Romans 8:13).
CHRIST’S RESURRECTION is the Greatest Event in history. It is a matter of DEIFICATION (THEOSIS) and RESURRECTION OF THE HUMAN NATURE AND OF A HOPE FOR DEIFICATION AND RESURRECTION OF OUR OWN PERSON. Since the medicine has been found, there is hope of life. Through Christ’s Resurrection, both life and death acquire another meaning. We do not regard as life the whole of the events of history but COMMUNION WITH GOD. And we do NOT regard as death the end of the present life, BUT MAN’S WITHDRAWAL FROM CHRIST, WHILE SEPARATION OF THE SOUL FROM THE BODY IS NOT DEATH, BUT A TEMPORARY SLEEP. The holy Apostle Paul, precisely because he feels united with the Risen Christ, can confess: "FOR I AM PERSUADED THAT NEITHER DEATH NOR LIFE, NOR ANGELS NOR PRINCIPALITIES, NOR POWERS, NOR THINGS PRESENT NOR THINGS TO COME, NOR HEIGHT NOR DEPTH, NOR ANY OTHER CREATED THING, SHALL BE ABLE TO SEPARATE ME FROM THE LOVE OF GOD WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD" (Romans 8:38-39).
In a catechetical oration of Saint John Chrysostom which is a triumphal hymn of victory, he says that through Christ’s Resurrection, all human problems have been overcome. No one should weep about poverty and in general about deprivation of necessary material goods because THE COMMON KINGDOM HAS APPEARED." No one should bewail the sins which he has committed, because FORGIVENESS HAS RISEN FROM THE TOMB." No one should fear death, because "THE DEATH OF THE SAVIOUR HAS FREED US." This "no one" is the absolute, which the Resurrection of Christ creates. As far as we are close to the relative and do not enter into the absoluteness of "no one," to that extent WE WEEP AND BEWAIL AND FEAR. (Source: The Feasts of the Lord. An Introduction to the Twelve Feasts and Orthodox Christology by Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos).
"Glory Be To GOD
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With sincere agape in the Glorious and Life-Giving Resurrection of
Our Lord, God, and Savior JESUS CHRIST,