Paschal Reflections: To love Sunday and live with its blessings

By Father Andrew Lemeshonok

The Paschal night allows us to see the Resurrection of Christ. Not with our eyes, of course, but with our hearts. You remember what the Lord told Apostle Thomas: “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Metropolitan Philaret Drozdov thinks that those words were addressed not to the faithful people who did not see Christ but still believe, but to Saint John the Theologian, who was heading to Christ’s tomb together with Apostle Peter. He came there first and believed as soon as he approached the tomb without even entering. Peter came second, entered the tomb, saw that it was empty, and then came out being filled with confusion. The thing is, John the Theologian was the first one who believed although he did not see. Thus, to believe we have to do so like Saint John the Theologian did: to see the empty tomb and still believe.

On the Paschal night, we all have an opportunity to live through the sacrament of Christ’s Resurrection. However, to live the night through, you have to go through Great Friday; you have to stand near the cross for long enough, to cry for long enough, to listen to the readings of the Holy Gospel. Then, on Great Saturday, you have to take part in the burial of Christ and so on. You have go the entire way, to live through the entire Great and Holy Week. In this case, on Pascha, “flesh and fur will hush to hear Spring, in the midnight hour, Predict that soon the skies will clear, And over death, we’ll persevere With Resurrection’s power”. The Resurrection is given to us as an experience for our hearts, as overcoming death, as a doubtless fact of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This is what Pascha provides us with.

Except from this, we have an opportunity to experience this every Sunday at the Divine Service. How many times a year does the Church celebrate the Resurrection of Christ? Fifty two times. As many times as there are Sundays in the year. This is why we should approach this question in the following way: on Sunday, I will not sleep in, I will get up and go to the church. Why? Because it is Pascha. And why is it Pascha? Because the Paschal excerpts from the Gospel are read at the morning service, because we sing: “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus”. I saw that with my heart, and I should not forget about that. I only live with what I have seen.

We take the Body and Blood of Christ. When the Royal Doors open and a priest or a bishop come out with the Chalice – what is this then? It is the Resurrection of Christ. Christ comes out of His tomb. The Doors and the veil open , and Christ in the Chalice, taken by a priest, comes out of His tomb, just like the bridegroom comes out of the palace. He comes out of the tomb to let the faithful people partake of the Holy Communion: “With the fear of God, faith, and love, draw near.”  And we come closer and just like the Myrrthbearers did, we fall at His feet.

The liturgy is a Sacrament of Communion with the Resurrected Christ. This is why the Sunday service and everything connected with the Sunday prayer is a straight way to the union with the Church. It allows  us to make everything that there is in the Church to be ours, to understand and feel everything and to live with it. To do this we need to love Sunday and live with its blessings.

April 23, 2017

St. Elisabeth Convent