Word Magazine April 1958 Page 5
THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD
By Father John Chromiak
Pastor, St. George’s Church, Allentown, Pa.
CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN.
“The Day of Resurrection! Let us be enlightened. 0 Ye people! The Passover, the Pascha of the Lord! From death unto life, and from earth unto heaven hath Christ Our God brought us over, singing a song of victory.”
(1st Ode, Easter Canon of St. John Damascus)
Indeed the above words of triumph ring in our ears, renew our strength, our faith, and our hope, as our choir sings this joyous theme upon re-entering our Church during midnight Holy Easter services. The faithful have reason for joy — no longer held by death, for now our goal is heaven and Life Eternal. By the sin of the first Adam all were condemned to the earth, but through the redemption of the second Adam, Christ Jesus, we are again called to Eternal Life.
During the Eastertide, we hear the often repeated words of the Troparion for Easter that proclaims the Victory of Christ: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.” He trampled down death by death and the grave and the stone were unable to retain the Great Wisdom of God and His uncomprehensible wars. It was a victory not over His death only, but over death in general, for in Him the whole of humanity is co-resurrected. Once and for all the Resurrection of Our Lord abolished death and made it powerless. Without the Resurrection of Our Lord, Christianity would be a failure. St. Paul emphasizes this point, “But if there be no Resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching in vain, and your faith is also vain.” (I COR. 15:13-14); and further, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and became the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (I COR. 15:20, 21, 22). In these words we find the expression of Christian Hope, for by the power of Christ’s Resurrection, all will rise in the General Resurrection of the entire human race. Because we shall rise also, we look upon death as only a temporary sleep if we have faith and believe. As we profess in the symbol of our faith or the Creed, “and I look for the Resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” Our Lord rose as the First of all who slept. He is the First, and all men will follow Him, in the due season. It was that triumphant message proclaimed that first Easter Morn. “Christ Is Risen”, which became a moral and dynamic force that inspired the Apostles to zealously undertake their task of preaching The Crucified and Risen Lord, and the establishment of Christ’s Church and Kingdom on earth.
For the Orthodox Christian, The Glorious and Lifegiving Resurrection of Our Lord (Holy Easter is the Feast of Feasts, the Triumph of all Triumphs. “This the day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be exceedingly glad therein.” (Canticle from the Easter Matins Service.) Because of this day, every Sunday is a day of Resurrection. In our Lord’s Resurrection we find a renewal of hope, and fulfillment of faith, to fortify our courage through all the days ahead. CHRIST IS RISEN! Rejoice, for all Creation rejoiceth with thee.
Let us take a glimpse of the midnight Easter Service. The Feast of Feasts begins as the Royal Doors before the Holy Altar are opened. The Priest in shining festal vestments comes forth holding a triple candle together with the Cross in his hand and loudly proclaims to all the faithful. “Come, Receive the Light that is never overtaken by night. Come, Glorify The Christ, risen from the dead.” All the lights of the Church blaze up.
As the Priest comes forth and proceeds to the outside western doors, preceded by the servants and altar boys carrying the Holy Gospel, icons, processional Cross and Fans, and the censer, the choir and the celebrant begin to sing slowly the Triumph hymn, “Thy Resurrection, O Christ our Savior, angels sing in Heaven; grant us on earth to glorify Thee with a pure heart.” As the procession is proceeding down the aisle of the Church, the faithful light up their own candles, partaking their light from the Triple candle stick which is held by the priest. This procession is in memory of the Myrrh-bearing women who went to the Sepulcher early in the morning to anoint the Body of Christ with myrrh. With the rush procession and the singing of the resurrection hymn, it is the heavenly and the earthly church uniting itself to proclaim this great triumph.
The procession stops at the church doors outside and the celebrant begins there the Easter Matins service in memory of the women who first received the news of the Resurrection at the entrance of the Tomb. The priest chants the Resurrection Gospel which tells of the angel who sayeth unto the women, He is Risen, He is not here. Then the Priest and the choir loudly proclaim and sing “Christ is Risen”. The Western doors of the Church are opened after the celebrant has blessed them with the Cross, and the procession re-enters the Church to continue with the Resurrection services in the joyous spirit of Holy Easter.
On Easter and during the entire radiant week, the Royal Doors and all doors leading to the Sanctuary are left open as a symbol that by Christ’s Death and Resurrection, He has opened the doors of His Kingdom to all believers. Among the customs connected with Easter is the blessing of eggs, special bread, cheese, and meat, and thus proclaiming the end of the Great Fast. The dyed red egg symbolizes the renovated life, received through the Blood of Christ the Savior who Redeemed us by His sacrifice on our behalf. that we may have life and have it more abundantly.