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Archive for the ‘PASCHA!’ Category

Much of this relies upon information from Image and Likeness.

The Resurrection Icons are much alike. They show Christ in His Descent into Hell, binding Satan and rescuing Adam and Eve. This was described in the Gospel of Nicodemus, a Gospel that was rejected by the Great Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church for reasons unrelated to the verity of the content.

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The icon of the Descent into Hell is a

“spiritual representation of the significance, reality and importance of what Christ accomplished.  Many of the elements that we see come from the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus and although the details vary from icon to icon, the essential elements remain the same:

The Icon of Christ’s Descent into Hades  is not a photojournalists recording of what took place in the bowels of the earth, but rather a spiritual representation of the significance, reality and importance of what Christ accomplished.  Many of the elements that we see come from the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus and although the details vary from icon to icon, the essential elements remain the same:the same:

  • We read from The Acts of Pilate, from the text of Nicodemus “The bronze gates were broken in pieces and the bars of iron were snapped; and all the dead who were bound were loosed from their chains, and we with them. And the King of Glory entered like a man, and all the dark places of Hades were illumined…” Christ is shown standing on the gates of Hades which are suspended over a black hole in the form of a cross. Hades is depicted as a person, conquered and bound.
  • Sometimes Satan is depicted with two heads to show his multiplicity and lack of integration or personhood. The hardware that held the gates in place is shattered and scattered, showing that the gates will never be closed again.
  • Christ is dressed in a garment of white, orange or sometimes even dark hews of blue, or brown, but with gold highlights emanating light from His transfigured body, showing that He is the Light of the world. His cape flies to show that He is not ascending, going up, but actually descending into Hades, and having resurrected He is shown in His glory. This is signified by the blue Mandola behind Him, which we also see in the Transfiguration and in the icon of the Koimoiseis or Falling Asleep of the Virgin Mary.
  • He is raising Adam from his tomb with Eve on the other side. Adam offers his hand to Christ rather than clasping Christ’s hand to show that it is Christ who raises us from the dead. With His other hand, Christ raises Eve from her tomb, or He may be depicted holding a scroll in His hand, in order to proclaim the Good News to the captives. Sometimes He is shown holding a cross in His hand, the tool by which He broke apart the gates of Hell. http://www.imageandlikeness.com/meaning-of-icons-v-18.html
Anastasis Fresco in Cathedral of the Holy Virgin, Joy of All who Sorrow

Anastasis Fresco in Cathedral of the Holy Virgin, Joy of All who Sorrow Anastasis Fresco in Cathedral of the Holy Virgin, Joy of All who Sorrow

One of the most touching Icons of the Anastasis I have ever seen is located in the Church of the Virgin, Joy of All Who Sorrow (ROCOR) in San Francisco, California, USA. Christ grasps the left wrist of Adam in His right hand, and with His left hand he grasps Eve’s right wrist. Adam is stretching his right arm and hand toward Eve and looks at her tenderly. He seems to be saying or thinking, “O Lord, please don’t forget my helpmeet, my wife, my beloved.” It is hard to see because of the location, just over part of the Iconostasis and with a chandelier in front of it. I know how hard it is to get a decent photo of it – I tried! This is a professional photo by Alex Mizuno, My Shot, National Geographic.

PaschalIcon

  • Christ’s hands and feet show the marks of the nails, as is the case in the Icon of the Touching of Thomas, but which is not true of the Icon of the Ascension.  Sometimes angels are shown above the Mandola, (also known as the “glory orb”), holding the tools of salvation:  the cross, the lance and the sponge.  These are elements that also appear in The Icon of The Extreme Humility of Christ.
  • There are many figures surrounding Christ.  On the left side in this icon we have 1) the kings David and Solomon who are Christ’s relatives, according to the flesh; 2) St. John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament Prophets is also present, proclaiming in Hades as he did in this world “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”  Some say that John died before Christ so that he could be the “Forerunner” even in Hades; 3) Moses is also shown, wearing a Phrygian cap, he represents the first covenant and one who witnessed the first Passover; 4) and Abel, the first to suffer injustice as the consequences of sin; 5) In the background are various kings, prophets, and righteous men who immediately recognize the Risen One.
  • On the right side we have the contemporaries of Christ showing us that this is an eternal act that transcends time and space.  http://www.imageandlikeness.com/meaning-of-icons-v-18.html
Resurrection-Anastasis03

Descent into Hell – Resurrection Icon showing Satan and Hades represented as two men under Christ.

This Icon shows Satan and Hades represented as two men beneath the figure of Christ. They are leaning on the gates of brass which Christ has destroyed.

Some Icons of the Anastasis show Christ in profile, raising Adam. His stole is flying, showing his descent. As in all of the Resurrection Icon, Eve’s hands are covered by her robe:

Christ holds a Cross as he raises Adam.

Eve waits behind Christ for her “turn” at the Resurrection. You can see the piercings of Christ’s hands and feet. The young man behind Adam may represent John, the beloved disciple, illustrating the “eternal act that transcends time and space.”

Finally, in the following Icon from Russia, from the 1500’s, Christ is carrying a cross as he raises Adam:

Anastasis-Russia-1500s

Anastasis-Russia-1500s

It is hard to see the elements of this Icon because of all the time that has passed and darkened the Icon. Eve is behind the figure of Adam, surrounded with contemporaries of Christ. Behind Christ are Kings David and Solomon (wearing crowns) and St. John the Baptist. This Icon does not show the keys and hinges of the Gates of Brass, nor does it show Satan bound beneath the broken Gates. There is no Mandola around Christ, and the “halo” around Christ’s head in this Icon does not have the cross behind His head, nor the “OWN”  – “I Am Who I Am” usually on the halo is not present. Compare to the first, third and fifth icons above. I do not know if this is because of the extreme age of the Icon, or if the artist did not put these elements in on purpose.

In the future, as you look at Icons of the Resurrection, look for the various elements, and try to identify the people shown.

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I have decided this will be a habit. As long as I can blog, I will keep referring to the 2008 post with the beautiful Serbian song, composed by St. Nikolai Velimirovic – Christ God is Risen! Let us Rejoice!

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Christ is Risen!! Indeed He is Risen!!

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May this song bring you the blessings of the bright and joyful Pascha of our Lord!

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Tomorrow, Sunday May 24 (May 11, old style) is the 6th Sunday after Pascha on which we remember the healing of the Blind Man.

We also remember the special Saints of the days: Hieromartyr Mocius (Mucius), Presbyter of Amphipolis in Macedonia.
Saints Methodius and Cyril, Equals of the Apostles, first teachers of the Slavs.
Hieromartyr Joseph, Metropolitan of Astrakhan.
Commemoration of the Founding of Constantinople. St. Nicodemus, Archbishop of Serbia. St. Sophronius, recluse of the Kiev Caves.
New-martyrs Dioscorus and Argyrus. St. Bessarion, Archbishop of Larissa. Martyr Acacius of Lower Moesia. St. Tudy, Abbot of Ile Tudy. St. Comgall, Bishop and founder of Bangor Monastery. St. Wiro. St. Bassus.

The healing of the Blind Man occurred 6 months prior to the passion of Christ, yet we celebrate it on the 6th Sunday following Pascha.

The V. Rev. Archimandrite Panteleimon P. Lampadarios, Patriarchal Vicar of Alexandria wrote a homily on this Sunday. It may be found on the Orthodox Research Institute website.

He concludes:

“The man who was born blind in today’s Gospel, met Christ and confessed Him as being the True God. Let us follow his example; let us approach Christ and ask Him to cure our spiritual blindness. Let us ask Him, to grant us the divine Light, so that we can see the virtuous path on which we must walk on. Let us ask Him, to lift up the heavy darkness of our sinful passions, which sinks us into a unsearchable darkness. The Lord said, if the darkness which is in you is dark, how much dark is the darkness? Let us ask Him to grant us His mercy, so that through the interventions of most blessed Lady and Ever Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, and all the Saints to achieve our salvation in Christ. Amen.”

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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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