Category Archives: Paschal Services


Christ is Risen!   Хрїсто́съ воскре́се!     Χριστς νέστη!

In our increasingly secular times, we are told that death is natural and we should accept it as such. A human being, an animal, even a plant is born, matures, grows old and dies. This is called the cycle of life. But from a Christian perspective, death is not natural. God did not create death. Death is the most unnatural thing in the world. God created humanity for eternal life, for an embodied life with God. It is only with human sin that death entered the world. Adam and Eve sinned by partaking of the ‘forbidden fruit’ and were subjected to death. Even so, death is not simply a punishment. When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil they sinned against God. If they had eaten of the Tree of Life they would have become immortal. This may sound good, but it would mean that they would have lived forever with the stain of sin on their souls. To prevent this God subjected them to mortality in the knowledge that he would send his Son, Jesus Christ, to save humanity from sin and death.

Sometimes people think that the Christian belief that people’s bodies die, and their souls go to heaven to live with God. However, this is a pagan way of looking at things. For Christians, life is an embodied life, a life lived in union of soul and body. The separation of soul and body at death is unnatural. Therefore, when Christ comes at the end of time all the dead will rise to a new, embodied life, a life that will be eternal. This is what men and women are created for.

Christ’s resurrection is the origin of our salvation. The resurrection is not simply an event in the past. Rather, when we are baptized we become partakers of Christ’s death and resurrection. Just as Christ was in the tomb for three days, so we went down into the water of the baptismal font three times. And just as Christ was raised from the tomb, we were raised from the font to become partakers of a new resurrection life. We will not fully experience resurrection until Christ comes again, but we participate in this life here and now, especially when we received Holy Communion.

All of this means that Christ’s resurrection is not simply an event of the past. Every Easter we experience the joy of resurrection life. Easter lasts forty days but during those days we should never forget that Christ’s resurrection even though we are busy with daily life. 

Beyond this, every Sunday is a mini-Pascha in which we receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament of Holy Communion.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart of the Christian faith. It is, as St. Paul writes “…if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” But Christ is risen, and we share in this joy.

The Paschal Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

At the Paschal Divine Liturgy it is the custom that the priest not give his own sermon, but rather read the Paschal sermon of St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople (347-407 AD). St. John is the author of our Liturgy and probably the greatest preacher in the history of the Orthodox Church. The name “Chrysostom” is actually a nicknamemeaning “golden-mouth” in Greek. He has this nickname because of his skill as a preacher. Let us all read St. John’s sermon and take it to hear, or rather Christ’s invitation to partake of the Body and Blood of the Risen Christ, at the Paschal Divine Liturgy.

The Paschal Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.
And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day.
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is fully-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.
O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are
overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

Огласительное слово на Пасху святителя Иоанна Златоуста

Кто благочестив и Боголюбив — насладись ныне сим прекрасным и радостным торжеством! Кто слуга благоразумный — войди, радуясь, в радость Господа своего! Кто потрудился, постясь, — прими ныне динарий! Кто работал с первого часа — получи ныне заслуженную плату! Кто пришел после третьего часа — с благодарностью празднуй! Кто достиг только после шестого часа — нисколько не сомневайся, ибо и ничего не теряешь! Кто замедлил и до девятого часа — приступи без всякого сомнения и боязни! Кто же подоспел прийти лишь к одиннадцатому часу — и тот не страшися своего промедления! Ибо щедр Домовладыка: принимает последнего, как и первого; ублажает пришедшего в одиннадцатый час так же, как и трудившегося с первого часа; и последнего одаряет, и первому воздает достойное; и тому дает, и этому дарует; и деяние принимает, и намерение приветствует; и труд ценит, и расположение хвалит.
Итак, все — все войдите в радость Господа своего! И первые, и последние, примите награду; богатые и бедные, друг с другом ликуйте; воздержные и беспечные, равно почтите этот день; постившиеся и непостившиеся, возвеселитесь ныне! Трапеза обильна, насладитесь все! Телец упитанный, никто не уходи голодным! Все насладитесь пиром веры, все воспримите богатство благости!
Никто не рыдай о своем убожестве, ибо для всех настало Царство! Никто не плачь о своих грехах, потому что из гроба воссияло прощение! Никто не бойся смерти, ибо освободила нас Спасова смерть! Объятый смертью, Он угасил смерть. Сошед во ад, Он пленил ад и огорчил того, кто коснулся Его плоти.
Предвосхищая сие, Исаия воскликнул: «Ад огорчился, встретив Тебя в преисподних своих». Огорчился ад, ибо упразднен! Огорчился, ибо осмеян! Огорчился, ибо умерщвлен! Огорчился, ибо низложен! Огорчился, ибо связан!
Взял тело, а прикоснулся Бога; принял землю, а нашел в нем небо; взял то, что видел, а подвергся тому, чего не ожидал! Смерть! где твое жало?! Ад! где твоя победа?!
Воскрес Христос, и ты низвержен! Воскрес Христос, и пали демоны! Воскрес Христос, и радуются ангелы! Воскрес Христос, и торжествует жизнь! Воскрес Христос, и никто не мертв во гробе! Ибо Христос, восстав из гроба, — первенец из умерших. Ему слава и держава во веки веков! Аминь.

Meditation for Palm Sunday

Icon Palm SundayIt’s easy to be a Christian and to love God when things are going well with us. On a warm, spring day we might spontaneously say ‘thank you’ to God for what He has done for us. As the English poet Robert Browning wrote: “God’s in His heaven, all’s right with the world”. Of course when things start to go wrong we instinctively turn to God in prayer. If we or a loved one gets sick, if we lose a job, if we have family or work problems, we ask God for help. This can comfort us for a while, but then sometimes it seems that God is not answering our prayers. Then we might become bitter, hate God or even lose faith in Him.
In a sense we are like the crowds in Jerusalem during Jesus’ last week. On Palm Sunday Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph. The crowds cry “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (Jn 12:13). They are ready for Jesus to drive the Romans out of Jerusalem and inaugurate the Messianic kingdom.
Jesus Christ cleanses the Temple, the crowds expect some earthshaking event is going to happen. But then Jesus preaches and teaches as usual. He is not driving the Romans out and bringing in the kingdom. The crowds are disappointed and begin to turn against Him. Then Jesus is arrested, tried, beaten and mocked. The crowds know that this is not supposed to happen to the Messiah. When Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor or Palestine says to the crowd “Behold the man” (Jn 19:5). The crowds replied “…. Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God.” (Jn 19:6-7) The crowds have turned against Jesus because He did not do what they expected Him to do, what they thought He should do.
At times we are like the crowds in Jerusalem. We love Jesus when things are going well with us, but when He seems to not answer our prayers we can turn against Him. But prayers are not magic and Christ does not promise us heaven on earth. He Himself was tortured, beaten and killed. That means Christ knows what it means to suffer, to (literally) bear the cross.
As we accompany Christ through His last days during Holy Week, the scripture reading and the prayer tell us about His suffering. This means we are bearing our own crosses, as terrible as they are sometimes, and Jesus is with us, helping us to bear our cross. He promises us resurrection, of course, at the end of time, but through prayer to our Lord, our reading of scripture and veneration of icons, and above all in receiving Holy Communion, even in the midst of our suffering, we have a foretaste of the coming resurrection.

Tone 1 Troparion
By raising Lazarus from the dead before Thy passion,Thou didst confirm the universal resurrection, O Christ God.Like the children with the palms of victory,we cry out to Thee, O Vanquisher of Death: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!
Tone 4 Troparion
When we were buried with Thee in baptism, O Christ God, we were made worthy of eternal life by Thy Resurrection.  Now we praise Thee and sing: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!
Tone 6 Kontakion
Sitting on Thy throne in Heaven, carried on a foal on earth, O Christ God, accept the praise of angels and the songs of children, who sing: Blessed is He Who comes to recall Adam!

Fr. John

Celebration of the Pascha of the Lord