Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pascha: The Glorious Feast of the Resurrection

Of all the meaningful feast days on our Church Calendar, everything pales in comparison to Pascha, which is rightfully proclaimed to be the "Feast of Feasts" in the eighth ode of the Canon of Resurrection Matins. Many of the early Church Fathers wrote of the special significance of this Holy day. In his Paschal sermon, St. Gregory the Theologian writes: 'The Resurrection is the feast that surpasses all others, just as the sun surpasses the stars." St. John Chrysostom extols Pascha with these words: "0 Death, where is your sting? 0 Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you have fallen! Christ is risen, and life reigns! Christ is risen, and the tomb is emptied of the dead!"

The word "Pascha" is derived from the Hebrew word "pasach" which means "Passover." For the Apostles and the early Christians, our Lord's Resurrection was viewed as a victory over death - when Christ indeed "passed over" from death to life, thus opening the gates to the kingdom of heaven for all of His faithful followers.

Through its rich symbolism, the icon of the Resurrection beautifully portrays this victory. It depicts our Lord entering into the realm of death, breaking the bonds that had imprisoned mankind since the fall from grace of Adam and Eve. The icon shows Christ reaching out to our first parents, freeing them from the curse of sin. He is surrounded by John the Baptist and other righteous figures from the Old Testament, who lived their lives in anticipation of the coming of the Messiah. Christ's brilliant white robes further emphasize the radiance of this Feast.

May the light shining forth from the empty tomb illumine our path and ultimately lead us to our heavenly home. Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
Orthodox Weekly Bulletin ......... Vestal, Cliffwood, NewJersey ......... Litho in USA

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