From the desk of Fr. Andrew

April 2018

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ is Risen! Χριστός Ανέστη! For the next 40 days following the celebration of Pascha, Orthodox Christians all over the world will greet one another daily with these words: "Christ is Risen" with the joyous and affirmative response "Truly He has Risen!" We are reminded that each jubilant greeting is an affirmation, a powerful statement of faith in our Lord's Resurrection from the dead - the ultimate promise and gift. Like the early Christians, we identify ourselves as followers of Christ by exchanging this brief dialogue with one another. This affirmative joyous greeting traditionally ceases on the eve of the Ascension - 40 days after Pascha (Thursday, May 17, 2018) only to be heard again at our next year's Paschal celebration. So, a very good question for us to ponder is: Does this joyous exchange ever need to conclude after the 40th day?

The historical proximity of the Resurrection to the primitive Church, aside from being the world's greatest unprecedented event ever, made it very difficult to dismiss as insignificant. The early Christians' unshakable faith was rooted in the hope and the power that emanated from the empty tomb. As St. Paul writes, If Christ is not risen then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty (I Corinthians 15:14). The Resurrection meant everything for the early Christians, who lived the paschal mystery daily. It gave meaning and direction to their lives. It comforted them from the pangs of the fallen world around them. It helped them to make sense out of the human condition. In short, their faith in their Lord, triumphant over sin and all its consequences was their very life, day in and day out. The paschal light was not about to be extinguished, not then, not ever.

Where then is the same zeal and jubilation for the Resurrection today? How do we experience the fervent joy beyond the 40 days of Pascha? Do we need to have lived closer in time to Christ's sojourn on earth? This manner of thinking is precisely the mistake we make today.

Orthodox Christians constantly bask in the light of the Resurrection because the Resurrection event has never truly ended! God continues to heal, to reconcile and to save through His Church, which proclaims the Resurrection not just for 40 days out of the liturgical year, nor simply during Sunday Liturgy, but daily. In many Orthodox monasteries, wherein the Church's liturgical life is best preserved in its splendor, daily celebrations of the Eucharist conclude with the devotional recitation by each monastic of the well-known paschal proclamation: "Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus..." Through Holy Communion, as well as through the daily disciplines of prayer and fasting, the power of God's love becomes clearly manifested. Jesus did not say, I will show you the resurrection and true life. On the contrary, He said: I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25) ...yesterday, today and tomorrow (Heb. 13:8). An event has limitations; it has a beginning and end. Christ, on the other hand, is the eternal God, whose power is ineffable, never ending and boundless for those who believe in Him.

The Paschal light burns incessantly in the living Lord who dwells within His Holy Orthodox Church. The joy of the Resurrection can be experienced daily but it requires from each of us effort and commitment, to believe, to pray, to fast, and to attend the Church's liturgical services frequently. The glorious light is there, but we need to reach out and light our own lamps from the source; and when we have chosen to allow the Paschal Light to burn fervently in us, day in and day out, then perhaps we can choose to greet one another with the greeting Christ is Risen daily beginning from Ascension Thursday onward. Christ is Risen! Χριστός Ανέστη! Truly He is Risen! Αληθώς Ανέστη!

God's continued blessing, +Fr. Andrew