Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Dearest Spiritual Ohana,

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

The Feasts of all feasts is upon us– Holy Pascha, celebrated on April 8th, this year! It is a celebration so central to our faith as Orthodox Christians. It is about our salvation in Christ, the fulfillment of our deepest longings, and our ultimate purpose in life! For our life in Him is our path towards everything we could ever truly long for! He is the Source of our fulfillment and true joy. He offers us something eternal, and not fleeting nor temporal. He offers us “true life.” In His Resurrection, He defeats humankind’s worst enemy, death! The question remains in our daily quests and life-long challenges, do we actually seek Him and allow Him to enter our hearts and be a living Presence in our lives? He offers us His Immeasurable Love and Mercy and Glory, but it is up to each and every one of us to respond to Him, personally! Do we, and how?

Great Lent afforded us the opportunity to open up and offer our lives to the Lord through fasting, increased prayer, repentance, etc., with the goal of living a Christ-centered life. If we merely went through the motions of fasting and prayer without embodying what these were meant to bring us, we have totally missed the point of the Great Lenten Season. We were meant to steer our lives in the direction towards an intimate relationship with God.

The Holy Fathers offer us the best insights and “sign posts” to help move us in the right direction in regards to our appropriate responses to what the Lord has given, gives and will give us through His Holy and Glorious Resurrection.

St. John Chrysostom, in his homily to us on Pascha, helps us see and experience the Glory of the Resurrection. Here is a portion of his sermon:

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.

St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, a contemporary Saint of our times who reposed in 1966, beautifully articulates the pathways and dynamics involved in building and strengthening our relationship with God. He says:

“Now the Church consists of both her earthly and heavenly parts, for the Son of God came to earth and became man that He might lead man into heaven and make him once again a citizen of Paradise, returning to him his original state of sinlessness and wholeness and uniting him unto Himself. This is accomplished by the action of Divine grace grated through the Church, but man’s effort is also required. God saves His fallen creature by His own love for him, but man’s love for his Creator is also necessary; without it he cannot be saved. Striving towards God and cleaving unto the Lord by its humble love, the human soul obtains power to cleanse itself from sin and to strengthen itself for the struggle to complete victory over sin.”

I express and share deepest sentiments of utmost joy as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. He loves us human beings so much that He would ultimately defeat death by His own Death and His Resurrection! Let us, therefore, give due glory to Him with all our hearts, minds, souls and beings as our continual response for all He has done, does and always will do for us.

I wish you all a Most Blessed and Joyous Pascha!  

With Love in Christ,
+Fr. Alexander

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