Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is Risen!
On this Leave-Taking of Pascha, we celebrate the last day of the feast, which we will ‘give up’ at the end of the Ninth Hour before celebrating vespers for the feast of the Lord’s Ascension, but even though the Paschal season now draws to an end, the Paschal Mystery through Christ’s victory on the Cross is eternal, and not only humanity, but also the universe is changed for ever. Death is despoiled and Hades is overthrown, for Christ our eternal joy and our eternal Pascha is arisen..
We must endeavour to preserve our Paschal joy in each and every day of our lives, by living in thanksgiving for the victory of the Cross, the death of death and the shattering of Hades, and the Life-Giving Resurrection, struggling – in times of trial, temptation and affliction – to confront ourselves with the wonderful, unchanging reality of the Resurrection, and the promise it contains for those who seek to live the Paschal Mystery.
No matter what darkness may beset human life, no matter how tired or ill, how poor, how hungry or afflicted we are, nothing can change the reality of Christ’s victory, especially for those who have been initiated into the Paschal-resurrectional life through the Holy Mysteries of baptism and chrismation, and through the constant spiritual renewal the Lord offers us in confession and Holy Communion, seeking to raise us up, even in this earthly life.
Whilst the fullness of the Paschal Mystery is to be revealed in the life of the age to come, the power of the Lord’s Resurrection is already at work in the Church and in the lives of her children.
The words of the Paschal Homily of St John Chrysostom, read during the Paschal Matins, must remain words of power and encouragement for us throughout the Christian life, but especially at times when we feel weak, tempted or helpless.
“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?
Christ is risen! And you, O Death, are annihilated!
Christ is risen! and the demons are cast down!
Christ is risen! And the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen! And life reigns!
Christ is risen! And the tomb is emptied of its dead:
For Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the first fruit-fruit, the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep.”
Through prayer and spiritual labour, fortified by the Holy Mysteries, let us live and abide in the joy of the Resurrection, so that it may be made an abiding and constant reality and qualitative presence in our lives.
This cannot be maintained in passivity and spiritual laziness, but only by active spiritual-labour in Christ-centred lives… and if our lives are truly Christ-centred they will always be Paschal, and the light and joy of the Resurrection cannot be eclipsed or taken away from us.
Christ is Risen! Live in His Resurrection each and every day of your lives.
“Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the Only Sinless One. We worship Thy Cross, O Christ, and Thy holy Resurrection we hymn and glorify, for Thou art our God, and we know none other beside Thee; we call upon Thy Name. O come, all ye faithful, let us worship Christ’s holy Resurrection, for, behold, through the Cross joy hath come to all the world. Ever blessing the Lord, we hymn His Resurrection, for having endured crucifixion, He hath destroyed death by death.”
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark