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Archive for the ‘Easter – Pascha’ Category

Last year, during the Paschal season I  posted what is, to me, the quintessential Easter Song:

Christ God is Risen!

I hope you enjoy this little reprise!

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Paschal Greetings from Metropolitan PHILIP

“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one to His own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)

“O Christ Saviour, we were but yesterday buried with Thee, and we shall rise with Thee in Thy Resurrection. We were but yesterday crucified with Thee: glorify us with Thee in Thy kingdom.”
(Verse from the Third Ode of the Paschal Canon)

Beloved Hierarchs, Clergy, Trustees, Parish Council Members, and All Faithful of our God-Protected Archdiocese:

Christ is Risen!

I greet you with the Paschal greeting, praying that our Risen Lord will bless you and your families as we celebrate His glorious Resurrection from the dead. As we live in the midst of a world plagued by war, famine, crime and moral decay, we have no other hope than to look to our Lord who destroyed death and gave new life to all. This new life and hope should strengthen us to overcome all of these destructive forces and, in fact, enable us to speak out against them. Indeed, as Christ ended the “wailing of Eve by His Resurrection,” we must also “proclaim that the Saviour is risen from the dead.”

May the eternal light of the Empty Tomb shine in your hearts and in the hearts of people everywhere.

Wishing you a glorious Paschal season, I remain
Yours in the Risen Lord,

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down Death by death!
And upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

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Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, on the occasion of the great feast of the Lord’s Pascha, 2009

Posted 04/18

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of The Orthodox Church in America

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

Beloved, let us greet one another with Paschal Joy, and exchange the kiss of peace.

Let us feast soberly, that our joy may be full. Let us not stuff ourselves to satiety with feasting, nor indulge our passions to insensibility. Most of all, let us not give ourselves over to the darkness of the fallen world from which we have sought to purify ourselves, lack of forgiveness, anger and judgment, bitterness and hatred.

Rather, let us allow our old selves to remain crucified and buried, that the New Man may live, resurrected in and with Christ. Let us live according to the Kingdom, in communion with the Holy Spirit, so that we may be renewed by the Resurrection.

Our Pascha is not simply the beautiful services and the good food. It is not just family and Easter bunnies. It is not just the fellowship and familiar old customs.

Pascha is the dawn of the Age to Come, the Kingdom of God radiating into our souls and minds and hearts. Pascha is the experience of salvation itself, the foretaste of the Messianic Banquet, and the transformation of our lives. In Pascha we behold Christ, Risen from the dead, the revelation of the Second Coming.

We have gone with Christ to His Passion, but have we been crucified with Him?

We have held vigil at His Tomb, but were we asleep, and missed Him? Did our minds betray us and we doubt His Resurrection?

Let the fruit of our Lenten efforts be the enlightenment of our minds and the renewal of our hearts that our repentance not be in vain.

Let us sing with joy together with the Angels and Archangels, and all creation which has groaned awaiting the revelation of the Son of Man. With all creation, the living and dead, the spiritual and material, and with all the saints, let us cry:

Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

Христос Воскресе из мертвых, смертию смерть поправ, и сущим во гробех живот даровав!

Χριστος ανεστη εκ νεκρων, θανατο θανατον πατησας και της εν τοις μνημασι ζωην χαρισαμενος.
With love and joy in the Risen Christ,
SIGNATURE
+JONAH
Archbishop of Washington and New York
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

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Archpastoral Paschal Message of His Grace Bishop Irinej of Australia and New Zealand

IRINEJ
BY THE GRACE OF GOD
THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX
BISHOP OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

Addressing you: beloved monastics, clergy, all sons and daughters, the faithful spiritual children of our Holy Church, with a heart resounding and overflowing with joy in the victory of the inextinguishable light over the death-bearing darkness of sin, the great and victory-bearing Feast of Feasts – The Resurrection of Christ, We wholeheartedly greet all of you with the salvific Christian greeting:

CHRIST IS RISEN!

Shine, shine – let us all sing –
O New Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!
Exalt now and be glad, o Zion; and rejoice, O Pure Theotokos
in the Resurrection of your Son!
(Paschal Irmos – 9th Canon)

And again, We reiterate, sing dear spiritual children, for the Resurrection has brought forth joy in abundance! Together with the Most Holy Theotokos let us rejoice in the Resurrection of her Offspring, convinced that the Lord will fulfill the promise given to us, His disciples and friends (Jn. 15:14) and that the answer will radiate out of the life-giving Tomb in response to the lament of His Mother, and to our sorrows and bitter tears: For I shall arise and be glorified with eternal glory as God and I shall exalt all who magnify you in faith and in love (Irmos of Holy and Great Saturday-9th Canon). And that is truly the joy of Zion, the joy of those persons who live and desire to live on the Mount of the Lord and to maintain an indissoluble bond with the Risen Lord.

Therefore, exalt today for we are surrounded by the radiance and brilliance of the New Jerusalem – that Heavenly Kingdom – which is revealed in the celebration of every Divine Liturgy, and especially today’s – Paschal Liturgy. Truly, the Divine Liturgy is bestowed upon us as a visible gift of that inextinguishable light of the Eighth Day, that day which stands apart from time and space, in eternity. Zion exalts, for even the hills and mountains and all that God has created rejoice, and we exalt in Zion and rejoice in our One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and indivisible Orthodox Church!

We rejoice in the Church, for, according to the words of the famous Theologian, Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, we know that the Church is not an institution with Sacraments; but rather a Sacrament with institutions, wherein we experience the world being made the Kingdom of God through Christ. Also, precisely for the sake of our salvation, Fr. Alexander’s warning is revealed unto us: You will not save the Church; rather the Church will save you! And that we could comprehend this as something which is essential to our daily lives, it is good to call to remembrance the Proverbs of Solomon wherein it is stated: Where there is no vision, the people perish (29:18).

Therefore, in the Church, outside of which there is no salvation, a person of faith cannot and will not perish. It is never too late for anyone to repent and believe, for this generous Master receives the last as the first. It is necessary to open our ears and hearts and our entire being unto the hearing of faith. Then, when we open up ourselves so that the Divine Logos may abide in us (cf. Jn. 1:14), truly the light of the Risen Lord will shine upon us. Let us extend a hand of reconciliation to one another, embrace each other and forgive all by the Resurrection. Only then will we be able to preserve that which we already are. And the paradox of our holy Christian Faith is found exactly in that: if we do not open up ourselves, if we do not come out of our self-sufficiency, we will not be able to preserve anything. And precisely such a sacrifice of love is impossible without the Resurrection.

Inspired by the sacrificial love of the Theotokos – the Mother of the Light, let us hasten to our Mother Church as to the ship of our salvation, so that we may sail upon the waters of a clear vision of ourselves, our identity, our vocation and our holy mission, both as individual members of the Church, according to our Baptism, and as one holy Body of Christ’s Church. This is the holy Faith which we have received through Tradition and which We impart unto you, our beloved faithful, not only for preservation, but also for enrichment and advancement. Truly, this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith (I Jn. 5:4) and that is the only and unique source of our entire joy and fullness of our Christian victory – the victory of the Risen Lord! Therefore today, as all creation rejoices in the victory of love over death (cf. Songs 8:6), We greet you with the victorious greeting:

CHRIST IS RISEN!

TRULY, HE IS RISEN!

Given in Sydney, at Pascha in the Year 2009

Your fervent intercessor before the Risen Christ,

+IRINEJ

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The bright Pascha of our Lord has come again, and with it, the promise of our Lord’s Resurrection. On this day we celebrate what is actually a continuous series of actions by God to bring us back to him.

In the beginning, in the Garden, Adam and Eve walked and talked with God, as with a benevolent Father who was interested in everything about His children. When they disobeyed, they gave up the priviledge of the Garden, and of the closeness they previously had with their Father. The Garden was closed to them and to their children. Think of it as a massive “time out” in today’s speak.

Yet, even then, God was planning the ways to bring his errant children back to Him. God could not come as Himself. Remember, he only showed his back to Moses. He appeared to people as what has become our Christian symbolism – as a burning bush, as a small voice after a storm, as a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day during the Exodus. God has ever been with us., even in the darkest of our times.

Someone once told me that we are closest to God when we are “crucified on the back of the Cross with Christ. We can’t see Him, we can’t “feel” Him, but He is closest to us and we to Him at that time.” This is kind of horrifying thought, but as with any stereotypical comment, there is a bit of truth in it. God IS closest to us when we are the most distressed, when we are hurting, worried, frightened. Our own emotions cloud Him from us at these times.

But today is a new beginning. It is Bright Pascha! God is no longer hidden from us – even if we are distressed. God appears to us and show us that the Gates of Hell are broken, that the power of the Evil One is broken, that the Evil One himself is bound and gagged.

The trials of this earth no longer have power over us. Economics, politics, differences of opinion with our spouses, fights with our children – none of these have power over us anymmore. For Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!

God is with us in a way He wasn’t before the Incarnation, Life, Passion, Death and Glorious Resurrection of Christ. We can turn to Him and lay aside our fears, our burdens. We can make better decisions with God’s Guidance.

“Let God Arise”
(The Paschal Canticle)
Let God arise and let His enemies be dispersed!

The Holy Pascha is revealed to us today.
The Pascha, new and Holy. The Pascha Mystical.
The Pascha all honorable.
The Pascha which is Christ the Redeemer.
The spotless Pascha, the great Pascha.
The Pascha of the Faithful.
The Pascha which has opened unto us the gates of Paradise.
The Pascha that sanctifies all the Faithful.

As smoke vanishes so let them vanish.

Come from that scene, O women, bearers of glad tidings,
And say to Sion: Receive from us the glad tidings of joy:
Of Christ’s Resurrection.
Exult and be glad and rejoice O Jerusalem,
Seeing Christ the King Who comes forth from the tomb
Like a bridegroom in procession.

So the sinners will perish before the face of God
But let the righteous be glad.

The myrrhbearing women at the break of dawn
Drew near to the tomb of the Lifegiver.
There they found an angel sitting upon the stone.
He greeted them with these words:
“Why do you seek the living among the dead?
Why do you mourn the incorrupt amidst corruption?
Go: proclaim the glad tidings to his disciples.”

This is the day which the Lord hath made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

The Pascha beautiful,
The Pascha of the Lord,
The Pascha,
The Pascha all honorable has dawned for us.
The Pascha!
On which let us embrace one another with joy.
O Pascha! A ransom for sorrow.
For today shining forth from the tomb
As from the bridal chamber
Christ filled the women with joy saying,
“Proclaim the glad tidings to the Apostles.”

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
Both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen

It is the Day of Resurrection
Let us be glorious in splendor for the Feast.
Let us embrace one another.
Also, brethren, let us speak to those who hate us
And in the Resurrection let us forgive all thing.
Therefore let us cry:
Christ is risen from the dead; trampling down death by death,
and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!
Christ is risen from the dead; trampling down death by death,
and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!
Christ is risen from the dead; trampling down death by death,
and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

Let us rejoice, indeed, in the victory of Christ and in the possibilty of uniting with Him! Let us bask in the joy of Pascha! And let us renew our struggle in the knowledge that no matter what happens to us in this life, we are with our Lord and God, and He is with us!

God is with us!
Understand this, O nations, and submit yourselves
For God is with us!

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I was hopefully looking forward to at least attending one of the Liturgies of Bright Week. Any weekday Liturgies are a little shorter (and less populated) than Sunday liturgies. During Bright Week, the Beautiful Doors remain open, the Deacon Doors remain open, the Curtains are open, all the lights are on, At the end of the Liturgy, the is a procession with banners, around the Church, stopping at each of the four corners to read the Gospel – to proclaim the Gospel to each of the 4 Corners of the Earth. While I would not be able to take part in the procession, the Liturgy would be marvelous – such a balm, such a medicine to my soul!

But am unable to go. On Tuesday I developed shingles on the right side of my waist toward my back, and I cannot put my back braces on. I can’t even wear anything with a waistband. I can hardly sit in my chair or lie in bed. Shingles hurts! And it itches, but I don’t dare scratch! If I touch the area, it hurts, aches, and burns and prickles (actually, prickles is too trivial a word for the sensation, but I don’t know what other one to use) – and the sensations persevere for several minutes after any touch. Continuous touch doesn’t mean the sensations decrease – rather, the discomfort (discomfort? AGONY!) increases the entire time the area is being touched by anything. Spraying the area with Benzocaine or similar products doesn’t help. I’ve had this before, and it just has to “run it’s course.”

Yes – I’m taking an antiviral medication. Yes – I started it early. But it still has to run it’s course. 10 days to 2 weeks. No, I’m not “contagious.”

So Bright Week is being spent as Great Lent was spent – and Holy Week was spent and Pascha was spent – watching bits and pieces of Liturgies on Youtube, and listening to CDs. Searching the internet for [octires pf Icons and the interiors of Churches.

From time to time I have a “pity party,” but most of the time I am grateful – I am blessed that I live in an age when the technology is here to allow me – and others – who are shut-ins to at least have bits and pieces of the Feasts and Fasts of the Church. I have to say, however, that I wish one – or more – of the Russian Churches would have a live streaming video of their services on the Web and maintain an archive for a few weeks for those who can’t “be there” live. There is a real need for this kind of outreach ministry. It wouldn’t be the same as “being there,” of course, but it would be even better than CDs. (Not that CDs are not needed!)

To say that I’m disappointed is an understatement. Crushed is more like it. But God is Good, and I’ll get over my paltry emotional reaction. And I will try to remember the words of the Akathist Hymn – Glory to God for All Things:

Ikos I

Into the world I was born as a weak, helpless child, but Thy Angel spread wings of light over me, guarding my crib. Ever since then Thy love lights all my paths, wonderfully guiding me towards the light of eternity. Gloriously, the generous gifts of Thy Providence have been manifest from the very first day. I am thankful to Thee and with all who have come to know Thee, call out:

Glory to Thee, Who called me to life,
Glory to Thee, Who hast shown me the beauty of the universe,
Glory to Thee, Who hast opened before me the sky and the earth as an eternal book of wisdom,
Glory to the eternity of Thee, in the midst of the world of time,
Glory to Thee, for Thy hidden and evident goodness,
Glory to Thee, for every sigh of my sadness,
Glory to Thee, for every step of my life, for every moment of joy,
Glory to Thee, O God, unto the ages of ages.

Mother of God Tenderness Pskov

I am blessed – blessed beyond my understanding. I simply MUST learn to recognize my blessings in all my days and all my hours and all my minutes.

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HYMN TO CHRIST ON EASTER DAY
(AFTER LONG SILENCE),

Cristi anax, se prvton, epei logon heri dvka,
dhnaion katecwn, fqegxom apo stomatwn,
(Dactylic hexameter, and pentameter.)

O Christ the King! since breath pent up so long
I have outpoured, Thou first shalt be my song;
May this my word, the current of my mind,
If lawful thus to speak, acceptance find,
And unto Thee as holy incense rise
Of holiest priest, a grateful sacrifice!
The Father’s Brightness, Word of the Great Mind,
Who cannot be by power of speech defined,
High Light of highest Light, the Only Son,
Image and Seal of the Immortal One,
Without beginning; from same Fount of Light
With the Great Spirit; infinite in might:
All-glorious Thou, and Author of all good:
From age to age Thy truth hath firmly stood.
Enthroned Thou reignest high in heaven above,
Almighty Breath of Mind and Lord of Love.
Throughout this framed universe Divine
Whatever is, or shall be, all is Thine:
Thou madest all, to all Thou givest life,
And all Thou guidest: nowhere fault or strife,
Nor error in Thy workmanship is found:
The whole in willing chain to Thee is bound.
Thou laid’st the world’s foundation: and Thy nod
All things obey, and own their Sovereign God.
For Thee the lofty sun, the king of day,
Quenching the stars, holds on his fiery way.
For Thee, for so Thou bidst, the eye of night,
The moon, waxes and wanes, full orb of light.
For Thee the belt of heaven, all-dancing ring,
And seasons kindly mingling, laugh and sing.
For Thee the fixed stars and planets shine
In course, and speak Thy wisdom all divine.
Thy light they are, the heavenly minds that be,
All sing on high the glorious Trinity.
Man is Thy glory too, angel below,
Here placed to sing, O Light, Thy beauteous glow.
Immortal, fleshless, glory’s highest ray,
Who mortal flesh yet took’st, man’s woes to stay,
For Thee I live, for Thee my songs arise,
For Thee I am a breathing sacrifice;
For this, of all things once possessed by me,
Alone remains, and this I give to Thee.

I tie my tongue, and loose it at Thy will;
In either, what Thou wouldst may I fulfil,
Speak what is right, nor think aught else beside:
From mire select the pearl, with Thee my Guide;
Gold from the sand, the rose from thorny brake,
From straw-encumbered ears the pure grain take.
To Thee, O Christ, this wreath of uttered praise,
As firstfruits of my loving toil, I raise.

For from the dead, with whom He mingled lay,
Great Christ arose, upon this gladsome day;
Gates of grim Hades He did open fling;
And broke death’s power, and robbed him of his sting;
Rushed from the tomb, appeared to speaking men,
For whom, once born, He died and rose again;
That we new-born might rise, from death set free,
And ever live, ascending Lord, with Thee.
This day glad Heaven with acclamation rings,
And choir angelic crowning anthem sings.
This day my closed lips I loose in song
To Thee, to whom my lute and breath belong.

Of mind to Mind, of word to the true Word,
I here have offered what I could afford:
Hereafter, if He will, I hope to bring
To the Great Spirit worthier offering.

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