Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Risen Lord, God, Redeemer and the Only True Savior of the world,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
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 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 has come to the whole world. We praise His Resurrection, and forever glorify the Lord. He endured the Cross for us, and by death destroyed Death.
Jesus, having Risen from the grave, as He foretold, has given to us Eternal Life and Great Mercy.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On May 7th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Commemoration of the Apparition of the Sign of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross over Jerusalem; Confessor John Psychaites; Saint Nilus, Egoumenos (Abbot) of Sora; Saint Domitianus, Bishop of Maastricht; Saint Quadratus of Nicomedia; Saint Rufinus and Saint Saturninus of Nicomedia; Saint Acacius of Cappadocia; Saint John of Zedazeni in Georgia and 12 disciples; Saint Pachomius of Patmos; Uncovering of the holy relics of St. Nilus the Myrrh-gusher of Mt. Athos; Saint John of Beverley, Bishop of York; Repose of St. Alexis Toth in America; "Zhirovitsy" holy Icon of the Mother of God.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Ascetics, Holy Bishops, Holy Fathers, Holy Mothers, Holy Egoumenoi, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen
THE COMMEMORATION OF THE APPEARANCE OF THE SIGN OF THE CROSS IN THE HEAVENS IN THE CITY OF JERUSALEM. On this day in the year 351 A.D., not long after Cyril had succeeded Maximus as Archbishop of Jerusalem, during the reign of Constantius, the son of Saint Constantine the Great, Roman Emperor, on the day of Pentecost, the sign of the Cross appeared over the city of Jerusalem. Saint Cyril, in his letter to the Emperor Constantius, says, "At about the third hour of the day, an enormous Cross, formed of light, appeared in the heaven above Holy Golgotha and reaching to the holy Mountain of Olives, being seen not by one or two only, but manifest with perfect clarity to the whole multitude of the city; not, as one might suppose, rushing swiftly past in fancy, but seen openly above the earth many hours in plain sight, and overcoming the beams of the sun with its dazzling rays" (PG 33:1169).
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. First Tone
The image of Thy Cross at this time shone brighter than the sun, when Thou didst spread it out from the holy Mountain of Olives to Calvary; and in making plain Thy Might which is therein, O Savior, Thou didst also thereby strengthen the faithful. Keep us always in peace, by the intercessions of the Theotokos, O Christ our God, and save us.
Kontakion Hymn. Fourth Tone
Making its rays to shine above in the heavens, the spotless Cross dawned on the earth, bright with splendor; for it had opened Heaven, which was shut of old. Granted the effulgence of its divine operation, we are surely guided to the unwaning resplendence. In battles we possess it as a true weapon of peace and a trophy invincible.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 8:18-25
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 6:35-39
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS:
"If we shall remember the evil that men have done us, the remembrance of God will grow weak in us; but if we shall remember the evil brought upon us by demons, we shall be safe from their arrows." Saint Macarius the Great
THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
Saint Gregory the Theologian divides Pascha into three: that of the Passover of the law, that of Divine grace, and that of the age of come.
The Passover of the law, in which the Hebrews celebrated the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, was a reminder of their bitter slavery in Egypt and their freedom by God's help. It was the Passover "of thanksgiving and entreaty". In reality, this Passover was the prototype of our Pascha.
The Pascha of Divine grace is the Resurrection of Christ, through which the crossing "from death towards life and from earth towards heaven" takes place. Saint Gregory the Theologian says: "O Pascha, the great and holy purification of all the world". Without the participation of Christ and communion with Him there is deadness and slavery. According to Saint Gregory of Sinai, "he who does not see and hear and feel spiritually is dead". Therefore Pascha is the coming of Christ into the heart. Saint Maximos the Confessor says very characteristically: "Pascha the coming of the Logos (Word) upon the human nous". Actually, when man receives Christ, he lives spiritually and Christ becomes his life, the soul of his soul. "The resurrection is a second soul for men" (Saint Neilos).
The Pascha of the age to come is "more perfect and more pure." When Christ celebrated the Passover shortly before His Passion, and especially when He celebrated the Mystical Supper, He said: "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's Kingdom" (Saint Mattthew 26:29). Clearly here He is speaking of the Pascha of the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet also the Pascha of the present life is symbolic of the Pascha of the age to come. Then the saints will have greater communion with Christ, because the Logos (Word) will reveal and teach "what He has now indicated in a mild way" (Saint Gregory the Theologian).
The Christian struggle to pass from the symbolic Pascha to the Pascha of Divine grace, and from there to the Eternal Pascha. Such a feast has significance and meaning. No other celebration has the deepest purposes, or satisfies man's hungry and thirsty spirit.
During the Hebrews' feast of the Passover an innocent, young and perfect lamb was slain. This was a prototype of the Christian Lamb, which is Christ Himself, innocent, young and perfect. He was sacrificed and is offered for the Christian to be united with Him.
Christ's Resurrection should not be celebrated as a historical or social event, but as existential, which means that it should be a participation in the grace of the Resurrection. The fasting which precedes the feast during the whole of Lent, the ascetic struggle, aims at the best participation in the mystery of the Resurrection. In order to be successful, however, this requires, as all the Holy Fathers teach, purification of the senses of both body and soul. Saint John of Damascos sings: "Let us purify our senses and we shall behold Christ, radiant with the Light Ineffable of the Resurrection, and shall hear Him say, in accents clear: Rejoice! As we sing the song of victory". Thus purification is a necessary precondition for vision (theoria) of God and communion with God. Saint Gregory the Theologian says: "Therefore first one must be purified, one must converse in purity."
The purpose of the spiritual life is for one to be united with the Risen Christ, to see Him in one's heart. Christ is risen in our heart, mortifying the passionate thoughts which are present there under the influence of the demons and overcoming the impassionate representations and preoccupations of sin, just then He overcame the seals of the tomb (Saint Maximos the Confessor). Therefore it is not a question of an outward symbolic celebration, but of an inner and existential one. In this light Saint Gregory the Theologian recommends that we should not celebrated in a festive and worldly manner, but in a godly and heavenly manner.
Participation in the mystery of the Resurrection is an expression of theosis (deification). He who has been initiated into the Ineffable Power of the Resurrection has realized from experience what Christ's purpose was in creating the world (Saint Maximos the Confessor). In reality, man was created in order to attain theosis (deification), and the world to share in the sanctification of through man. Then he who is initiated into this Ineffable power of the Mystery of the Resurrection attains theosis (deification) and fulfills the purpose of his existence. Thus he acquires greater knowledge.
The Apostle Paul commends this experience of life, and therefore he writes that we have been buried through Holy Baptism with Christ into death, "that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). This rebirth is essential, because otherwise man will die spiritually, according to the words of the Apostle Paul. "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (Romans 8:13).
Christ's Resurrection is the greatest event in history. It is a matter of theosis (deification) and resurrection of the human nature and of a hope for theosis (deification) and resurrection of our own person. Since the medicine has been found, there is hope of life. Through Christ's Resurrection both life and death acquire another meaning. We do not regard as life the whole of the events of history, but communion with God. And we do not regard as death the end of the present life, but man's withdrawal from Christ, while separation of the soul from the body is not death, but a temporary sleep. The Apostle Paul, precisely because he feels united with the Risen Christ, can confess: "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor Angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).
In a catechetical oration of Saint John Chrysostom which is a triumphal hymn of victory, he says that through Christ's Resurrection all human problems have been overcome:
"No one should weep about poverty and in general about deprivation of necessary material goods, because the common Kingdom has appeared".
"No one should bewail the sins which he has committed, because forgiveness has risen from the tomb".
No one should fear death, because "the death of the Savior has freed us".
This "no one" is the absolute, which the Resurrection of Christ creates. As far as we are closed to the relative and do not enter into the absoluteness of "no one", to that extent we weep and bewail and fear.
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
With sincere agape in Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God.