Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Elder Ephraim of Arizona on Pascha, Paradise and Springtime

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
The Resurrection of Christ (source)
   
"Now in the springtime, when nature is wearing its most beautiful apparel, one feels inexpressible joy when this natural beauty is accompanied by a sublime spiritual state. Truly, our holy God has made all things in wisdom (Ps. 103:26)! The soul cannot get enough of beholding the beauty of nature. Oh, if man would only lift his mind above this earthly realm to the heavenly Jerusalem, to the inconceivable beauty of paradise where the finite, earthly mind ceases to operate! If here in exile, in this accursed land of weeping, our holy God has given us so much beauty to enjoy, I wonder how much there will be in the place where God Himself dwells! Truly, “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory and bliss (Rom. 8:18).” Theosis* in the heavens, my child! There the Lord our God will remove every tear from our eyes, and do away with all sorrow and pain and sighing, for there the angelic way of life reigns, and the only work is to chant hymns and spiritual odes! An eternal Sabbath is prepared for us where we shall live in joy with our Father, God, Who is waiting for us to be ready so that He may call us to Him forever! There every saved soul will live in an ocean of love, sweetness, joy, amazement, and wonder!" 
*Theosis: Connected with the theoria of uncreated Light, theosis, or divinization, is a participation in the uncreated grace of God. At this stage of perfection, one has reached dispassion. Through the cooperation of God with man, theosis is attained through the action of the transfigurative grace of God.
   
The Resurrection of Christ (source)
   
"Ah, if you could only see a little bit of paradise, if you could only hear for a few seconds the chanting of the sweet angels who shine with heavenly light and emit paradisiacal fragrance! Oh, what beauty! Unfortunately, we are in the dark about all these things.
There everything shines with limitless bliss. And what does the throne of Christ tell you? Christ the Master sits upon a throne, and due to His light no one can discern His sacred and most sweet face. Oh, what sweetness and beauty! What is more beautiful than this? This is truly paradise: to behold the face of our Jesus! Glory to Thy Cross, O Lord, and to Thy Resurrection!
O depth of the wisdom of God! O mysteries of the three sun Deity! Blessed is he who humbles himself like a child, obeying all commands with a guileless soul for the love of God! And woe to him who will hold on to his egotism, like me; how many divine gifts does he deprive himself of!
My children, run with humility to reach the Lord Who humbled Himself for our sake—our sweetest, beloved Christ, the light of our poor souls.
See what beauty awaits us! If you could only see how beautiful it is! You would disregard everything; you would even become like trash to be stepped on, just as long as you would not be deprived of everything that the sweet love of Jesus has prepared! These are the kinds of things my Elder used to tell me, and I am conveying them to you so that you may be sweetened. I am done—forgive me!
   
Christ, the Good Shepherd, Who came to find the lost sheep (source)
   
From Counsels from the Holy Mountain: Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim of Arizona (sources 1 and 2)
   
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

"This light-bearing day has become the first and lady of days..."

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
The Sunday of St. Thomas, when Christ again appeared to His Disciples after His Resurrection (source)
   
This light-bearing day [Sunday] has become the first and lady of days, in which it is worthy for the new and divine people to rejoice. And as a type of the ages, it also forms the eighth day which is to come, He Who is greatly-exalted by us and our Fathers, blessed are You, O God.
-from the Matins Canon for the Sunday of St. Thomas
 
(source)
 
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

"As imitators of the Passion of the Savior, and of the radiance of His Resurrection..."

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene the Newly-revealed Martyrs and Wonderworkers of Lesvos (source)
 
As imitators of the Passion of the Savior, and of the radiance of His Resurrection, you clearly shine forth to us, O Holy Martyrs, for as He appeared to the chaste Myrrhbearers after His Resurrection, you likewise appeared to pious women, confirming the mystery, and clearly proclaiming to them the revelation of hidden things. Having beheld the outcome [of your lives], O Raphael and Nicholas, together with the virgin Irene, we magnify Christ Who glorified you.
-Doxastikon of the Aposticha of Great Vespers
 
(source)
 
Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, together with those martyred with them at Karyes, Lesvos (source)
 
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Monday, April 9, 2018

A Paschal Epistle of St. John Maximovitch

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

The Resurrection of Christ (source)
 

PASCHAL EPISTLE OF ST. JOHN MAXIMOVITCH, 1940

St. John Maximovitch

Pascha, 1940, Shanghai. A large Russian diaspora, forced to leave behind their homeland; many had lost their dear ones, and everything they owned, and now lived in want, in a foreign land. But God gave them a saintly bishop to comfort them, and keep them in remembrance of the grace and strength of Holy Orthodoxy.
A member of St. John’s Shanghai flock, Nicholas Feodorovich Tsepitov, of Revda, Russia, preserved this Pascal Epistle all his life, even after his return to the Soviet Union in 1947. It gave him comfort there also, where more trials awaited him. He gave this epistle for publication to the Fund for the Canonization of St. John Maximovitch in Russia, and we present it here, in English translation, as a comfort to all.
Christ is Risen!
Let us arise in the deep dawn,
And instead of myrrh offer a hymn to the Lord.
We forestall the rising of the sun, and hasten in the depth of night to meet the Sun of Righteousness. 
The present night is not an ordinary night! Brighter than day, it fills our souls with light! 
The rays of the Sun of the world illumine us and the whole universe, enlightening all who come to His light. 
The warmth poured out through His rays penetrates all our members, filling our souls with deep peace, even healing our bodily illnesses. 
This warmth melts away our sorrows, and our passions are burned away as by fire. 
Enmity and hatred disappear from us, we forget our bitterness, and we do not feel our impoverishment. 
The whole world becomes different in this holy and only night! 
All nature is changed, and everything is filled with warmth and light. 
Just as birds of prey hide at the rising of the sun, and wild beasts disappear into their dens, so does evil flee from every heart illumined today by the Light which radiates from the tomb. 
Like the morning dew, now are our tears dried away! 
As blossoms unfold at the onset of day, enlivened by the sun’s rays, so do virtues return to us as the Sun rises upon us this morning. 
Let us strive to be wholly illuminated by this wondrous light! 
When spring comes, we open all the windows and doors of our homes, that the warmth may enter and dry the dankness within. 
Now the Divine Light can also enter; but it cannot shine within souls that have closed themselves, and do not want to be illumined by that Light. 
Let us open our souls and hearts! Let us hasten with the myrrh-bearers, let us come bearing our lamps to Christ, Who has come forth from the tomb!
Even if you are burdened by sins, do not turn away; for today even those in the bonds of hell hasten to the Light with joyful feet.
Even if you are poor and haven’t the means to buy candles and myrrh, do not turn away. Let our hearts and souls burn in place of candles. There is no impoverishment in the world! 
In these past days, we were all called to bring our material offerings and bodily ascetic labors as myrrh. 
Now we all are called to partake of spiritual joy. This is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Instead of myrrh and material offerings, let us bring a hymn to the Lord. Let us sing the praise of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God! 
Let us open now the doors and windows of our souls and hearts, that they might be warmed by the rays of the Sun of Righteousness! 
From the outermost border of heaven is His going forth, and His goal is unto the outermost part of heaven, and there shall no man hide himself from His heat (Ps. 18:6). Now all things are filled with light: heaven and earth and the nether regions (Ode 3 of the Paschal Canon). Only we are impenetrable if we do not want Him! 
If you do not feel this radiant joy today, seek the reason within yourself only. 
It would be insane for a man to claim that the sun does not exist, only because he does not see it from within his tightly closed and shuttered dwelling. Pitiable is the blind man who keeps telling everyone that there is no such thing as light, only because he does not see it! It would look very foolish for a man to insist that spring has not come, only because no warmth has penetrated into his locked cellar! 
We praise the gentle light, the holy glory of the immortal Heavenly Father—the Resurrected Lord, crying out to Him from the depth of our souls, MEET IT IS FOR THEE AT ALL TIMES TO BE HYMNED! 
Then the light of Christ that enlightens all will enlighten even us, and we shall behold Christ the Sun of Righteousness, Who shines upon all life! 
Christ is Risen! 
The Bright Resurrection of Christ, 
1940, Shanghai 
Translated by Nun Cornelia (Rees)
4/4/2010
   
The wonderworking and incorrupt Holy Body of St. John Maximovitch in San Francisco, a vivid icon of the reality of the Resurrection of Christ (source)
   
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

St. Porphyrios reading the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
The Resurrection of Christ (source)
   
Recording of St. Porphyrios reading the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom, with subtitles of the English translation (source)
   
A short Paschal greeting of St. Porphyrios
"I pray that the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ will resurrect within your souls every good and beautiful feeling, in order to lead everyone towards holiness and to put to death the old man together with its passions and desires. This is what our Lord seeks, and these I pray: that His Resurrection might help, might be well pleased to overcome and to put to death our old man, that we might be made worthy of His Church.
Certainly! This I pray, may our Lord help us.
Many years! Christ is risen!"

Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He is granting life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Vision of the Prophet Ezekiel of the Resurrection

The Vision of the Prophet Ezekiel of the Resurrection (read during the Matins service for Great and Holy Saturday) (source)
   
1And the hand of the Lord came upon me, and the Lord brought me forth by the Spirit, and set me in the midst of the plain, and it was full of human bones. 2And he led me round about them every way: and, behold, there were very many on the face of the plain, very dry. 3And he said to me, Son of man, will these bones live? and I said, O Lord God, thou knowest this. 4And he said to me, Prophesy upon these bones, and thou shalt say to them, Ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5Thus saith the Lord to these bones; Behold, I will bring upon you the breath of life: 6and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and will spread skin upon you, and will put my Spirit into you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. 7So I prophesied as the Lord commanded me: and it came to pass while I was prophesying, that, behold, there was a shaking, and the bones approached each one to his joint. 8And I looked, and behold, sinews and flesh grew upon them, and skin came upon them above: but there was not breath in them. 9And he said to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord; Come from the four winds, and breathe upon these dead men, and let them live. 10So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath entered into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, a very great congregation. 11And the Lord spoke to me, saying, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: and they say, Our bones are become dry, our hope has perished, we are quite spent. 12Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will open your tombs, and will bring you up out of your tombs, and will bring you into the land of Israel. 13And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, that I may bring up my people from their graves. 14And I will put my Spirit within you, and ye shall live, and I will place you upon your own land: and ye shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and will do it, saith the Lord.
-Ezekiel 37:1-14
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Monday, April 2, 2018

"Being moved by compassion, O Christ..."

The Crucifixion of Christ (source)
   
Being moved by compassion, O Christ, You willingly come to suffer, O Benefactor, wishing to redeem us from the passions, and from the condemnation of Hades. Therefore we hymn Your precious Passion, and we glorify, O Savior, Your utter condescension.
-from the Compline for Holy Monday
 
(source)
 
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!