Pascha and Bright Week 2017 (PDF)

33953541641_cc8bfab63e_nI have gathered all of the 2017 posts from Pascha and Bright Week into one document for those who prefer to view them that way rather than having to navigate through the blog.  You can find all of those posts at Pascha and Bright Week 2017 (PDF).

You can find PDF links for all of the blogs I posted for each of the past 10 years for Great Lent, Holy Week, Pascha and many other topics at  Fr. Ted’s PDFs.

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Paschal Greetings: Christ is Risen!

Dearly Beloved,

On this day of Pascha, I offer to you the radiant words of  St. Paul, who we honor as the Apostle to the Nations:

“Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

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Thirty-seven years ago, I submitted to being ordained an Orthodox priest in order to follow in St. Paul’s footsteps: to hand over to you what I received: our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. My hope was and is to remain focused on Christ, faithful to the Gospel, practicing Orthodox Christianity in such a way as to be a faithful witness to Christ. At Pascha, we celebrate the culmination of our spiritual lives and our Lenten efforts as we encounter the risen Lord and experience Christ who is the Good News. Lent and Pascha are not about eating or not eating meat and dairy products.  They are about our living relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord and our commitment to His Body, the Church, in which we find salvation. Pascha is God’s own acceptance of death in order to give us eternal life. The Christian Faith and the Paschal Feasts are summed up well by Fr. Alexander Schmemann, who inspired me to choose Orthodoxy as the way to know God:

“Death is . . . man’s rejection of life in God. It is the rejection of God for the sake of man’s life in and for himself, the result of man’s alienation from God in whom alone is life and the life of man. Death, therefore, must be destroyed as the spiritual reality of man’s separation from God – hence, the gospel, the Good News. Christ has destroyed death by trampling it with his own death. . . . Under the guise of death, Divine Love itself enters Sheol, overcoming the separation and solitude. Dispelling the darkness of hades, Christ’s death is a divine and radiant act of love, and in his death, therefore, the spiritual reality of death is abolished.  Finally, the Christian gospel announces that with Christ’s resurrection a new life – a life which has no death in it – is given to all those who believe in him and are united with him.” (THE LITURGY OF DEATH, pp 45-46)

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In the Paschal Liturgy, we celebrate everything I believe and want to share with you. In the darkness, in the middle of the night, we are illumined by the resplendent Light which is Christ. Jesus sought out the gloom of Hades to find those hidden by the shadow of death. We came out in the pitch darkness of the night to see Christ and all those who are alive in Him. The glorious joy of the resurrection enlightens our hearts and shines light wherever there is darkness.

Christ is risen!  Indeed, He is risen!

Bright Saturday 2016

“Lord Jesus Christ, our God!  Flood our souls with the radiant light of Your wisdom, that we may serve You with renewed purity and integrity.  Sunrise marks the time for us to begin our labors, but we implore You, master, to prepare in our souls a place for the day that never ends.  Grant us a share in Your risen life, let nothing distract us from the delights You offer, and by our tireless zeal for You, mark us with the sign of that day of Yours that is not measured by the sun.”  (New Skete Monastery, Matins prayer for Pascha)

Bright Week, the week following Pascha, is liturgically treated as the day in the city of God which knows no night (Revelation 21:25).  The Light of the Risen Christ shines morning and evening, through dawn and dusk.  All week long the hymns of Pascha Sunday are repeated as if the day itself never ends but continues uninterrupted by sunrise or sunset for the glory of God is the eternal Light in the City of God, and the lamb of God is its lamp (Revelation 21:23).

“The heavenly world is taking part in the liturgy. But more than that: the mysterious Host, the Crucified One and the Living One is entering the souls and the bodies of the faithful and hallows them, preparing them for Life Eternal. He comes to the individual soul that bows before Him in deepest self-condemnation and repentance, feeling herself unworthy that He should enter under the roof of her house: ‘for it is all empty and crumbling to pieces.’ But He enters and heals and sanctifies soul and body. And He comes also to the whole of the Church, and our common partaking of the One Bread makes us all one body. But the Eucharist points also to the sanctification and transfiguration of the whole created world. The wine from the grapes and the vineyards and the bread from the wheat of the field become His transfigured, His glorified Blood and Body. They are premises of the nature who all will be sanctified and glorified because the Word has become Flesh and has suffered and conquered Death.

So the Eucharist points also to the future plenitude, to His future coming in Glory. ‘You proclaim the death of the Lord, till He comes’ (1 Cor. 11:26). The Past – His historical death on Golgotha and His resurrection – is mysteriously united to His unutterable Presence – the Presence of the Glorified One, who is the One who presents Himself in sacrifice, and the Risen One simultaneously. And this mysterious flowing together of historical fact and mystical Presence is also a stretching forward to the fullness of the manifestation of His Glory.” (Nicholas Arseniev, Revelation of Life Eternal, pp 86-87)

Previous: Bright Friday

Bright Friday 2016

We Orthodox continue our week of rejoicing, celebrating daily the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ throughout Bright Week.   The Church, the community of believers, was born in Christ – in His death and resurrection. One image the early Christians used is that in the same way that Eve was taken from the side of Adam (Genesis 2), so too the Church comes from the side of Christ – in the blood and water which poured forth from His pierced side.

We each participate in this death and resurrection through the sacraments of baptism and communion.  This is why in the early Church baptism of the catechumens was linked to the celebration of Pascha, the resurrection of Christ.  As St. Gregory the Theologian expressed it:  “Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him; yesterday I died with Him; today I am quickened with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him; today I rise with Him.”

The Roman Catholic scholar Jean Danielou says:

“The marriage of Christ and the Church, which took place on the Cross, is continued throughout the whole Church by Baptism and the Eucharist: ‘The Word of God came down to earth to unite Himself to His Bride, willingly die for her, to make her glorious and immaculate in the bath of purification. For otherwise the Church could not conceive those who believe and bring them forth anew by the bath of regeneration, if Christ did not die anew, did not unite Himself to His Church and give her the power from His side, so that all those may grow up who are born into the baptismal bath. Baptism perpetually regenerates Christians by plunging them into the death of Christ, and the Eucharist continually makes them grow by giving them the strength which comes from His side, that is, by communion in His risen Body.” (The Bible and the Liturgy, p 206)

Previous: Bright Thursday

Next: Bright Saturday

Pascha and Bright Week 2015 (PDF)

All the blogs posted for Pascha and Bright Week are now available in one document, a PDF which you can find at:  Pascha and Bright Week 2015 (PDF). 

You can find links to all the Lenten, Holy Week and Bright Week blogs I’ve posted for the past years as PDFs at Fr. Ted’s Blog Series.   Each year I collect all of the posted blogs from the Lenten and Paschal seasons  and put them together as  PDFs.

I will also be gathering all of the blogs related to the Post-Paschal Sundays into a PDF which will be published after Pentecost.

Bright Friday 2012

“To this end Christ died and rose to life that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living. But ‘God is not God of the dead, but of the living.’ That is why the dead, now under the dominion of One who has risen to life, are no longer dead but alive. Therefore life has dominion over them and, just as ‘Christ, having been raised from the dead, will never die again,’ so too they will live and never fear death again. When they have been thus raised from the dead and feed from decay, they shall never again see death, for they will share in Christ’s Resurrection just as He Himself shared in their death.” [St. Anastasius the Sinaite (7th C) in The Synaxarion of the Lenten  Triodion  and Pentecostarion, pg. 182]

Bright Tuesday 2012

“Today is salvation come unto the world, to that which is visible, and to that which is invisible. Christ is risen from the dead, rise ye with Him. Christ is returned again to himself, return ye. Christ is freed from the tomb, be ye freed from the bond of sin. The gates of hell are opened, and death is destroyed, and the old Adam is put aside, and the New is fulfilled; if any man be in Christ he is a new creature; be ye renewed…The Lord’s Passover, the Passover, and again I say the Passover to the honour of the Trinity. This is to us a Feast of feasts and a Solemnity of solemnities.” (St. Basil the Great in Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev, Christ the Conqueror of Hell: The Descent into Hades, an Orthodox Perspective, pg. 56)

Pascha and Bright Week (PDFs)

Blogs that I posted during Pascha and Bright Week for the past several years are now available as single document PDFs.  You can click on any link to read what I posted in the week following Pascha as we celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ going back to the year 2008.

Pascha and Bright Week (2008 and 2009)

Pascha and Bright Week (2010)

Pascha and Bright Week (2011)

Pascha and Bright Week (2012)

The Myrrhbearing Women, Bearing Hope

Before the rising of the sun,

the ointment-bearing women

hastened to anoint the sun

that had disappeared for a while

into the darkness of the tomb,

though it existed before

the sun itself came into being.

These holy women were seeking him

as one would seek the very light of day,

and, as they walked along, they spoke of what they were about to do:

Come, let us hurry! Let us anoint the very source of life as he lies in the grave,

that very one who raised up Adam.

Yes, let us hurry!

We shall bring him a gift of myrrh

and adore him

as once the wise men did,

for, as then he lay wrapped in swaddling clothes,

he now lies wrapped in a burial shroud.

Then, we shall tearfully entreat him:

Rise up, master,

for you alone provide

the grace of resurrection for the fallen!

(Ikos of Paschal Matins, New Skete Monastery)