A Blessed Resurrection & A Most Joyful Pascha to All!
Dearest Spiritual Ohana,
As we enter into the month of April, we come to the conclusion of Great Lent, travel through the Most Blessed Holy Week and arrive at the Joyous Season of Pascha and the Holy Resurrection. I pray that you took the opportunity to immerse yourselves into Great Lent, with all of the ascetic practices of fasting, increased prayer, almsgiving, etc. And whether you did or did not engage in these practices, I wish you immense joy as we come to proclaim, “Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!”
The Feast of our Lord’s Resurrection is central and most meaningful to our lives as Orthodox Christians. It is the ultimate expression of God’s Love for us and all of Humanity! He grants us the remission (wiping out) of our sins through His Crucifixion, and vanquishes, defeats and conquers death by His own Death and Resurrection. This Feast is not merely a commemoration of something wonderful that took place in history many year ago. These loving actions of our Lord have eternal implications for all of humanity and are meant to touch each and every one of us, personally, in the here and the now!
As we come to the Most Joyous Celebration of Pascha and the Holy Resurrection, I leave you with the best sermon ever preached about this Season, by St. John Chrysostom (the Golden Mouth):
St. John Chrysostom: Paschal Homily
If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.
If anyone is a wise servant, let him, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward.
If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let him keep the feast.
If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; for he shall suffer no loss.
If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near without hesitation.
If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay.
For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward. O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.
Let no one lament his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn his transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.
He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into hades and took hades captive! He embittered it when it tasted his flesh! And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, “Hades was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions.” It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and, face to face, met God! It took earth and encountered heaven! It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen!
“O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory?”
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the First-fruits of them that slept.
To him be glory and might unto ages of ages. Amen.
Kalh Anastash kai Kalo Pasca!
(A Blessed Resurrection and Pascha to All!)
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
With Love in Christ,
Polycarp the Holy Martyr & Bishop of Smyrna; Proterios, Archbishop of Alexandria; Gorgonia the Righteous, sister of Gregory the Theologian; Damian the New Martyr of Mount Athos; Boswell, Abbot of Melrose Abbey