Tag Archives: Pascha

St. John the Wonderworker: What is most important on the holy day of Pascha is our Communion with the Risen Christ . . .

Icon of PaschaOn April 2 of this year, you asked permission for your Circle to distribute red eggs to the faithful in the Memorial Church after the Paschal Matins, inasmuch as a great many single, elderly, ill and poor people cannot stay to the end of the Divine Liturgy, when they would return to their homes in damp, cold weather. In response, His Eminence Archbishop John has issued the following resolution:

“What is most important on the holy day of Pascha is our Communion with the Risen Christ, which is principally manifest in the reception of the Holy Mysteries at the holy service, and for which we repeatedly pray in the services of Great Lent.

“Leaving the Paschal service before the end of Liturgy is a sin — or the result of a lack of understanding of the church service.

“If one is compelled to do so by unavoidable necessity, then an egg, which is merely a symbol of resurrection, cannot take the place of actually partaking of the Resurrection in the Divine Liturgy, and the distribution of eggs before the Liturgy would be an act of disdain for the Divine Mystery and a deception of the faithful.

“The Church canons strictly forbid bringing to the altar anything besides the bread and wine which are to be transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, likewise oil for the lamps and incense. A cleric who violates this canon is deposed according to the third rule of the Apostolic Canons.

“I call up all to fully participate in the Divine banquet of the Risen Christ — the Holy Liturgy, and then, at its conclusion, to announce the good news of Christ’s Resurrection and greet one another with this symbol of the Resurrection.”

+ St. John the Wonderworker, Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco

St. John the Wonderworker: Concerning the Reception of the Holy Mysteries on Pascha

Pascha 5“The Lamb of God communicates with us on the holy and light-bearing night of Resurrection. We pray for this when we are just beginning to prepare for Lent, and afterwards many times during the course of the Great Fast: that the lord would vouchsafe us to partake of the Holy Mysteries on the night of Holy Pascha. At that time the grace of God acts in a special way upon men’s hearts. We partake of the Christ Resurrected, we become partakers of His Resurrection. Of course, we must prepare ahead of time, and, having already communed during Great Lent, receive again the Holy Mysteries. Before Paschal Liturgy there is no time for a proper confession; this must be done earlier. And then, on that light-bearing night, having received general absolution, to draw near to the Divine Lamb, the pledge of our resurrection. No one should leave the church prematurely, rushing away to eat the meat of animals instead of receiving the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.”

+ St. John the Wonderworker, Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco

St. Ephraim the Syrian: Joseph as a Type of Christ

Patriarch JosephFor just as the Lord was sent to us
from the Father’s bosom [John 1:18] to save us all,

So the youth Joseph from Jacob’s bosom [Gen 37:13-14]
was sent to enquire about his own brothers.

And just as Joseph’s harsh brothers,
as soon as they saw him approaching,

began to devise evil against him,
though he was bringing them peace

from their father, so the Jews also,
ever hard of heart, as soon as they saw

the Saviour, said, ‘This is the heir [Matt 21:38],
let us kill him, and all will be ours’.

And just as Joseph’s brothers said,
‘Let us do away with him, and let us be set free

of his dreams’, [Gen 37:20] in the same way too
the Jews said, ‘Come, let us kill
him and lay hold on his inheritance’.[Mat 21:18]

Joseph’s brothers, while eating,
sold him, slaying him in intent.

In the same way too the abominable Jews,
while eating the Passover, slew the Saviour.

The descent of Joseph into Egypt signifies
the descent to earth of our Saviour.

And as Joseph within the marriage chamber
trampled down all the strength of sin,

putting on the bright prizes of victory,
against the Egyptian woman, his mistress,

so too the Lord, the Saviour of our souls,
by his own right hand, descending into Hell,

destroyed there all the power
of the dread and near invincible tyrant.

When Joseph had conquered sin
he was put in prison until the hour of his crowning;

so too the Lord, that he might take away
every sin of the world, was placed in a grave.

Joseph in prison spent two whole years,
passing his time in great freedom [cf Gen 39:21-23]

while the Lord, as powerful, remained
in the tomb for three days, not undergoing corruption.

Joseph, on Pharao’s order, was brought out
graciously from prison, as a true type,

when he easily interpreted the meaning of the dreams,
indicating the abundance of grain that was going to be;

while our Lord [Jesus Christ] was raised from the dead
by his own power, despoiling Hell,

offering to the Father our liberation,
proclaiming resurrection and everlasting life.

Joseph took his seat in Pharao’s chariot,
having received authority over the whole of Egypt;

while our Saviour, king before the ages,
ascending into heaven on a cloud of light,

took his seat with glory at the Father’s right hand,
above the Cherubim, as Only-begotten Son.

When ruling over Egypt, Joseph
having received authority against his enemies

his brothers were brought willingly
before the tribunal of the one who had died through them;

they were brought to prostrate with fear and trembling
before the one who had been sold by them to death;

and with fear they prostrated before Joseph,
whom they had not wanted to be king over them.

But Joseph, recognising his brothers,
revealed them as murderers by a single word;

but they, when they realised, stood dumbfounded
in great shame, not daring to utter,

not having anything at all to say in their defence,
knowing exactly their own sin

at the moment when they sold him;
while he, who seemed to have been destroyed by them in Hades,

was suddenly found to be ruling over them.

So too on that fearful day,
when the Lord comes on the clouds of the air,

he takes his seat on the throne of his kingdom,
and all his enemies are brought bound
by fearsome Angels before the judgement seat,

all those who did not want him to rule over them.

For the lawless Jews thought then,
that if he were crucified, he would die as a human;

the wretches not being persuaded that God had come,
for salvation, to save our souls.

Just as Joseph said quite openly
to his brothers, making them fear and tremble,

‘I am Joseph, whom you sold [into slavery],
but now I rule over you, though you did not want it’. [Cf. Gen 45:4]

So too the Lord shows the Cross
in an image formed of light to those who crucified him,

and they recognize the Cross itself
and the Son of God who was crucified by them.

Know how accurately Joseph became
a true type of his own Master.

+ St. Ephraim the Syrian, Excerpt from “Sermon on Joseph the Most Virtuous”, translation by Fr. Ephraim Lash
Read the full sermon at http://anastasis.org.uk/Joseph.pdf

Fr. Seraphim Rose: This weekend, at the Sunday Vigil of the Prodigal Son . . .

By the rivers of Babylon, painting by Gebhard Fugel, circa 1920

By the rivers of Babylon, painting by Gebhard Fugel, circa 1920

This weekend, at the Sunday Vigil of the Prodigal Son, we will sing Psalm 136.[1]

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion”.

In these words of the Lenten Psalm, we Orthodox Christians, the New Israel, remember that we are in exile. For Orthodox Russians, banished from Holy Russia,[2] the Psalm has a special meaning; but all Orthodox Christians, too, live in exile in this world, longing to return to our true home, Heaven.

For us the Great Fast is a session of exile ordained for us by our Mother, the Church, to keep fresh in us the memory of Zion from which we have wandered so far. We have deserved our exile and we have great need of it because of our great sinfulness. Only through the chastisement of exile, which we remember in the fasting, prayer and repentance of this season.

Do we remain mindful of our Zion?

“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem…”

Weak and forgetful, even in the midst of the Great Fast we live as though Jerusalem did not exist for us. We fall in love with the world, our Babylon; we are seduced by the frivolous pastimes of this “strange land” and neglect the services and discipline of the Church which remind us of our true home. Worse yet, we love our very captors – for our sins hold us captive more surely than any human master – and in their service we pass in idleness the precious days of Lent when we should be preparing to meet the Rising Sun of the New Jerusalem, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is still time; we must remember our true home and weep over the sins which have exiled us from it. Let us take to heart the words of St. John of the Ladder: “Exile is separation from everything in order to keep the mind inseparable from God. An exile loves and produces continual weeping.” Exiled from Paradise, we must become exiled from the world if we hope to return.

This we may do by spending these days in fasting, prayer, separation from the world, attendance at the services of the Church, in tears of repentance, in preparation for the joyful Feast that is to end this time of exile; and by bearing witness to all in this “strange land” of our remembrance of that even greater Feast that shall be when our Lord returns to take His people to the New Jerusalem, from which there shall be no more exile, for it is eternal.Book Father Seraphim Rose

+ Fr. Seraphim Rose, March 1965

Read about the life of Fr. Seraphim Rose

Footnotes:

[1] “By the Waters of Babylon” is the entire Psalm 136, sung to a plaintive melody, after the Polyelos Psalm during Matins. It is only sung in church the three Sundays that precede Great Lent: Sunday of the Prodigal Son, The Last Judgment (Meatfare) and Forgivensss (Cheesefare) It is significant that this same hymn is chanted at the beginning of the service of monastic tonsure.
[2] This homily was written in 1965, when the church in Russia was still under captivity to the Communist regime.

 

 

St. John of Kronstadt: I was dead, and behold, I am alive . . . (Homily on Pascha)

Icon of Pascha“He says: I was dead, and behold, I am alive for, evermore, amen; and you also will be alive forever. This is the meaning of the words of Him Who arose: I am the first and the last; I am He that liveth and was dead for you, for your redemption from death, and I; that is: I conquered your death by My innocent death for your sake, and behold, I am also forever and will sit with My Father on His throne; I was not separated from Him, even though I was on earth accomplishing My great work for you who are subject to sin and death. Therefore, do you also, My followers, work and struggle against sin and do righteous deeds, and where I am, there shall My servant be also–that is, in the eternal Kingdom.”

— St. John of Kronstadt, Homily on Pascha

St. Gregory the Theologian: Yesterday I was crucified with Him . . .

Icon of St. Gregory the TheologianYesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him. Continue reading

St. John Chrysostom: Paschal Homily

Icon of PaschaIf 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.