Beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God and Only True Savior Jesus Christ,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
SERMON OF SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE
Whosoever is a devout lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful bright Festival. And whosoever is a grateful servant, let him rejoice and enter into the joy of the Lord. And if any be weary with fasting, let him now receive his penny. If any have toiled from the first hour, let him receive his due reward. If any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast. And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any have delayed to the ninth hour, let him not hesitate, but let him come too. And he that hath arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay; for the Lord is gracious and receiveth the last even as the first. He giveth rest to him that cometh at the eleventh hour as well as to him that hath toiled from the first. Yea, to this one, he giveth and upon that one, he bestoweth. He accepteth works, as he greeteth the endeavor. The deed he honoreth and the intentions he commendeth.
Let all then enter into the joy of our Lord. Ye first and last receiving alike your reward; yet rich and poor, rejoice together. Ye sober and ye slothful, celebrate the day. Ye that have kept the fast, and ye that have not, rejoice today; for the Table is richly laden. Fare ye royally on it. The calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake ye all of the cup of faith. Enjoy ye all the riches of his goodness. Let no one grieve at his poverty; for the universal Kingdom hath been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he hath fallen again and again; for forgiveness hath risen from the grave. Let no one fear death; for the Death our Savior hath set us free. He hath destroyed it by enduring it. He spoiled Hades when he descended thereto. He vexed it even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he cried, Thou, O Hades, hast been vexed by encountering Him below. It is vexed; for it even done away with. It is vexed; for it is made a mockery. It is vexed; for it is destroyed. It is vexed; for it is annihilated. It vexed; for it is now made captive. It took earth, and, behold! It encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see. O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory? Christ is Risen, and thou art annihilated. Christ is Risen, and the Angels rejoice. Christ is Risen, and life is liberated. Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of the dead; for Christ, having Risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those that have fallen asleep. To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen.
"The gate into Paradise is not narrow. There is room for all those who bow humbly, and are not puffed up with pride, as long as they repent and give the burden of their sins to Christ. The thief on the cross simply said, 'Forgive me' and he was saved. Salvation depends on the second, not the minute. Man can be saved with a single, humble thought; or, with a proud one, loose everything.
Spiritual health equals pure thoughts, an enlightened mind, and a purified heart that unceasingly harbors Christ and Pahaghia. Watchfulness over ourselves and prayer are a great help in acquiring spiritual health. Prayer is essential for the purification of the soul, and prudence is essential for the preservation of a healthy spiritual condition." (Geronda [Elder] Paisios the Athonite [+1994] )
Outside of Constantinople, towards the district of the Seven Towers, there was in ancient times a very large and most beautiful church named in honor of the Theotokos; it had been built about the middle of the fifth century by the Emperor Leo the Great (also called "Leo of Thrace," he is commemorated on January 20th). Before he became Emperor, he had encountered there a blind man, who being tormented with thirst asked him to help him find water. Leo felt compassion for him and went in search of a source of water, but found none. As he became downcast, he heard a voice telling him there was water nearby. He looked again, and found none. Then he heard the voice again, this time calling him "Emperor" and telling him that he would find muddy water in the densely wooded place nearby; he was to take some water and anoint the blind man's eyes with it. When he had done this, the blind man received his sight. After Leo became Emperor as the Most Holy Theotokos had prophesied, he raised up a church over the spring, whose waters worked many healings and cured maladies by the grace of the Theotokos (Mother of God); from this, it came to be called the "Life-Giving Spring." The Church of Christ celebrates the consecration of this church on this say.
After the fall of the imperial city to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 A.D., this church was razed to the ground by the Muslim Turks and the materials from it were used for building the mosque of Sultan Bayezid. Nothing remained of that church's ancient beauty, except for a small a paltry chapel, almost completely buried in the ruins. This chapel had twenty-five steps going down into it, and a transom window on the roof, wherefrom it received a little light. Toward the western side of the chapel was the aforementioned holy Spring, fenced about with a railing, and with fish swimming in it. Such was the condition of the Spring until 1821 A.D. Then even that little remnant was destroyed by the Turks, occasioned by the uprising of the Hellenic Nation against the Ottoman Empire; the sacred Spring was buried with it and disappeared altogether.
But in the days of Sultan Mahmud, when those subject to him were rejoicing in their freedom to practice their religion, permission was sought by the Orthodox Christian community to rebuild at least the chapel. Thus the work was begun on July 26, 1833. When the excavation had been made, and the foundations of the ancient church were found, there was rebuilt--by a later writ of permission from the Sultan--not merely a chapel of the holy Spring, but another new church, constructed upon the foundations of the ancient one. The building of this spacious, beautiful, and most majestic temple began on September 14, 1833, and the work was completed on December 30, 1834. On February 2, 1835, the Ecumenical Patriarch Constantine II, serving the Divine Liturgy together with twelve hierarchs and a great company of clergy, as well as a boundless multitude of Orthodox Christians, performed the consecration of this sacred church and dedicated it to the Glory of the Mother of God. On September 6, 1955, however, it was desecrated and destroyed again by the Muslim Turks; it has been restored again, but not to it former magnificence.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Mother of God. Third Tone
As a Life-Giving Fount, thou didst conceive the Dew that is transcendent in essence, O Virgin Maid, and thou hast welled forth for our sakes the nectar of joy eternal, which doth pour forth from thy fount with the water that springeth up unto everlasting life in unending and mighty streams; wherein, taking delight, we all cry out:Rejoice, O thou Spring of Life for all men.
Kontakion of the Mother of God. Plagal of Fourth Tone
From thine unfading fount, O Maid supremely graced of God, thou dost reward me by the flow of the unending streams of thy grace that doth surpass human understanding. And since thou didst bear the Word incomprehensibly, I entreat thee to refresh me with thy grace divine, that I may cry to thee: Rejoice, O Water of salvation.
Christ is risen from the dead, by death hath He trampled down death, and on those in the graves hath He bestowed life.
When they who were with Mary came, anticipating the dawn, and found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher, they heard from the Angel: Why seek ye among the dead, as though He were mortal man, Him Who abideth in everlasting Light? Behold the grave-clothes. Go quickly and proclaim to the world the Lord Is Risen, and hath put death to death. For He is the Son of God, Who saveth the race of man.
Though Thou didst descend into the grave, O Immortal One, yet didst Thou destroy the power of Hades, and didst arise as victor, O Christ God, calling to the myrrh-bearing women, Rejoice, and giving peace unto Thine Apostles, O Thou Who dost grant resurrection to the fallen.
Let us who have beheld the Resurrection of Christ worship our Holy Lord Jesus, Who is alone without sin. We worship Thy Cross, O Christ, and we praise and glorify Thy Holy Resurrection. For Thou art our God, and we know none other beside Thee, and we call upon Thy Name. Come, all ye faithful, let us worship Christ's Holy Resurrection, for behold, through the Cross joy hath come to the whole world. For ever blessing the Lord, we praise His Resurrection. He endured the Cross for us, and by death destroyed death.
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God