Beloved children in the Lord,
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
In this holy season, we celebrate the two greatest events of our Faith: the death of Christ on the Cross and His glorious Resurrection from the grave on the third day. These are the two great mysteries upon which our whole life as Christians is based; and it is by participating in them that we are joined to Christ and inherit life everlasting. We partake of these events both in our own personal struggle and in the liturgical life of the Church. When we take up our personal Cross and die to sin, we begin to grasp, in part, the greatness of the mystery of the Cross, which is the mystery of our salvation. When we have been crucified together with Christ to sin, we are raised up with Him into a new life of virtue and holiness. It is this reality that we experience symbolically in the season of Great Lent and Pascha. During the Fast, we mortify our fleshly members and die together with Christ on the Cross. Now, as we joyfully proclaim His Resurrection, we receive a taste of the everlasting joy and sweetness of Kingdom of Heaven.
We are still weak and sinful human beings, but if we open our hearts to God’s grace we, together with Christ, trample upon the dominion of the devil. Our Savior Jesus Christ is not ashamed to make us one body with Himself and to make us fellow heirs in His kingdom. To this end, He humbled himself for our sake, "And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8).
Our Saviour condescended to suffer crucifixion, which was considered in the ancient world to be one of the most humiliating death sentences. He suffered on the Cross in order to redeem the race of mankind, and to show us that God loves us so much, that He would even die a shameful and agonizing death for us. Yet it was through His death and Resurrection that our Lord defeated death and granted us everlasting life. That is why the Church chants in her Paschal hymn "for behold, through the Cross joy is come to the whole world"! After the Crucifixion of Christ, the Cross was no longer a symbol of shame, but became rather a symbol of joy and victory. Indeed, Christ changes all things! That which is humiliated becomes exalted! That which is scarlet becomes white! That which is profane becomes pure!
Brother and Sisters in Christ! We have now passed through the period of Great Lent. We have passed from death unto life and from earth unto heaven. We have passed from the Egypt of the passions into the promised land of Israel. We have become a holy nation, a chosen people, citizens of the Jerusalem on high. Now our Saviour is Risen! Now He has established us in salvation! Now has He manifested Himself in us! Now indeed are we the fellow heirs with our Saviour Jesus Christ, the Victor over sin and death. To Him be glory forever.
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
Your fervent suppliant before the Lord,
† Demetrius of Boston
St. John of Kronstadt Orthodox Church began as a mission parish in the year 2000, in a home chapel in Palm Coast, FL – a small town on Florida’s northeast coast located between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach. After two years, it became necessary to have services in area community centers, rented for Sundays and other Holy Days. Read more...
Q. Are the prayers in the blue prayer book [A Prayerbook for Orthodox Christians by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery —ed.] compulsory for everyone? I mean their morning prayers and the service of Small Compline. My confessor gave me a special rule but wasn’t clear about whether this replaced the book prayers or was in addition to them. Read more...