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Κυριακή, 20 Απριλίου 2014

Pascha: the Bright and Glorious Resurrection of our Lord

   
The Resurrection of Christ is the foundation and the crown of our Orthodox Christian Faith.
The Resurrection of Christ is the first, most important, great truth, with the proclamation ofwhich the Apostles began their preaching of the Gospel after the descent of the Holy Spirit. Just as by the death of Christ on the Cross our Redemption was accomplished, so by His Resurrection eternal life was given to us. 


Therefore, the Resurrection of Christ is the object of the Church's constant triumph, its unceasing rejoicing, which reaches its summit in the Feast of the Holy Christian Pascha—"Today all creation is glad and rejoices, for Christ has risen! " (Canon of Pascha, Ode 9).

The saving fruits of the Resurrection of Christ are as follows:

a) the victory over hades and death; 
b) the blessedness of the saints in heaven and the beginning of the existence of the Heavenly Church; 
c) the sending down of the Holy Spirit and the creation of the Church of Christ on earth. 

Until the coming to earth of the Son of God, and until His Resurrection from the dead, the souls of the dead were in a condition of rejection, being far away from God, in darkness, in hades, in the underworld. To be in hades was like spiritual death, and there were imprisoned also the souls of the Old Testament righteous ones, who lived on earth with faith in the coming Savior, and after death languished in expectation of their redemption and deliverance.

Christ, after his death on the Cross, descended in His soul and in His Divinity into hades, at the same time that His body remained in the grave. He preached salvation to the captives of hades and brought up from there all the Old Testament righteous ones into the bright mansions of the Kingdom of Heaven.

With the destruction of the bolts of hades, that is, the inescapability of hades, the power of death also was annihilated. First of all, death for righteous men became only a transition from the world below to the world above, to a better life, to life in the light of the Kingdom of God; secondly, bodily death itself became only a temporary phenomenon, for by the Resurrection of Christ the way to the general Resurrection was opened to us. Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept (I Cor. 1 5:20). The Resurrection of Christ is the pledge of our resurrection: For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive; but every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits: afterward they that are Christ's at His coming (I Cor. 1 5:22-23). After this, death will be utterly annihilated. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death (I Cor. 1 5:26).

The troparion of Holy Pascha proclaims to us with special joy the victory over hades and death: "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life." Christ ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things (Eph. 4:1 0).

A depiction of the life of the Saints in heaven is given in the Apocalypse. Saint John the Theologian saw around the throne ofGod in the heavens four and twenty seats and on them elders clothed in white garments and having crowns of gold on their heads (Apoc. 4:4). He saw under the heavenly altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimonly which they held (Apoc. 6:9); and yet again he saw a great multitude of all nations, and kindreds, and people, standing before the Throne and before the Lamb and crying out: Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb (Apoc. 7:9-1 0).

The bright mansions of the Heavenly Home sacred Scripture calls "the city of the living God," "Mount Zion," the "Heavenly Jerusalem," "the Church of the first-born written in heaven." And thus the great Kingdom of Christ has been opened in heaven. Into it have entered the souls of all the righteous and pious people of the Old Testament, those of whom the Apostle has said, These all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise (until the coming to earth of the Son of God and the general salvation), that they without us should not be made perfect, that is, attained the joy and blessedness of the Heavenly Church of Christ (Heb. 11 :39-40). Into this Kingdom in the New Testament there entered the first ones who believed in Christ, the Apostles, first martyrs, confessors; and thus until the end of the world the heavenly Home will be filled—the Jerusalem on high, the granary ofGod—until it shall come to its perfect fulness.

As St. Symeon the New Theologian teaches, "Thus it is in truth, as the Apostle Paul reveals when he says: Till we all come in the unity of the faith unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Eph. 4:1 3). When they shall be gathered together and shall comprise the full Body of Christ, then also the higher world, the Heavenly Jerusalem, and the Church, which is the Body ofChrist, will be revealed as entirely full and perfect (Homily 45)." Special Services and Events

HE SAVING FRUITS OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
(from Orthodox Dogmatic Theology: A Concise Exposition, by Fr. Michael Pomazansky)

source : St. Basil the Great Orthodox Church
A parish of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

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