CHRIST IS RISEN !
TRULY HE IS RISEN!
Every Pascha we cry out and hear from others: “Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!” But Pascha is not a one-day celebration and has is not ended, for its celebration continues for forty days, during which we greet each other with: “Christ is risen!” “Truly He is risen!” Pascha is the Feast Day above and beyond all other feast days -- it is the Feast of Feasts. On Pascha Churches are usually filled with celebrants who join together singing: “Christ is risen!” Red eggs are seen everywhere, and celebrants are holding lighted candles. The day of the Resurrection of Christ has no equal in the enthusiasm of its celebration and the accompanying joy, for the fast is over and Pascha is here!
The week beginning with Pascha, known as New Week, is an extension of Pascha, the seven days being a continuation of the single day of Pascha. With enthusiasm we sing: “Christ is risen from the dead trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.” In exceeding joy we keep these seven days sending up prayers and glorification to the one who arose from the dead and by His death put death to death. We continue singing of Pascha for a full forty days, from Pascha to Ascension, for we start and finish both private prayers and all services greeting each other and singing: “Christ is risen!
The joy of this feast is that it directly concerns us by offering us life, greatly affecting our present and endless future, which is everlasting life, and happily death’s empty threats have been annihilated. The Incarnation, Passion, Crucifixion, Death and Resurrection of the Son of God is part of the divine plan of God for the salvation and sanctification of the entire human race. Christ is the Godman who being God also became a man like us and dwelled among us full of grace and truth. He is the example of what the man we must strive to become. God became man to save us and so that man may become a god like God. For this reason the Paschal celebration should inspire us to decide to change our lives. The week after Pascha is called New Week, and concerns the transition from the old to the new, from the old man to the new man Christ, from sin and death, to virtue and Resurrection. We all need to study, learn and act following Christ’s commandments in order to derive benefit from the Resurrection. Our reformation needs to be sparked by our firm understanding that following Christ is even more precious than the offering of our praises and glorification on the day of Pascha. In doing this we will remember and celebrate and continually live Pascha each day of our lives, then we will be prepared to enter the never ending paschal domain through the doors of a harmless death. During the thirty-three years before His Passion, Death and Resurrection, Christ was teaching, exhorting and encouraging the propagation of His Gospel, which would be spread over the earth.
On Pascha we greet each other with: “Christ is risen,!" Truly He is risen!” We can keep Christ and Pascha alive in our souls by increasing celebrations, such as, Christ is born! Glorify Him!; Christ has ascended! He ascended in glory! The most important thing is the constant remembrance of our Savior, the Christ, for He is everything!
Shortly ater Pascha there was an article in a newspaper written by an Orthodox Priest under the heading: “Christ is risen! Now What?” He challenges Orthodox Christians to keep the spirit of Pascha alive, not just once with with red eggs and lighted candles on Pascha, but by each one of us undergoing a change by becoming lights in this world. From the hierarchs to the faithful, the light of Christ is dim but needs to shine brightly in this world of moral darkness. The author says: “We have lost the meaning of “church” as being the Body of Christ. People think of it as a stationary building that we visit as if it were some museum . . . The challenge is how do we keep Pascha alive, not for a day or week but for the whole year long, says the author.
We keep Paschas alive by continual remembrance that Christ was crucified and died on the Cross and on the third day. Christ is risen and will never die again. Christ is risen and we too shall arise with Him and be with Him forever. Christ is risen and we who believe in His Resurrection will reflect His light so that it will shine through us before the whole world, for all mankind certainly needs the light of Jesus Christ.
We must not choose the alternative, to be spiritually dead men lacking light and life even though we attend a brilliant and living church the only source of all truth. When we celebrate Pascha and sing “Christ is risen,” if we fail to come alive with Christ it will be of no benefit but on the contrary it will do us harm. For when we sing this triumphant praise it becomes our testimony that either we believe it or are hypocrites. Let us enter the Paschal joy of our Lord! The joy of Pascha stirs the spiritual fibers of our souls and is meant to awaken our spirits and our enthusiastic response!