The Paschal Cycle (Vol IV, Ch 10)

From Michael Ruse:

Class on 10/26/2019…

How do we know what the truth is? Converts, inquirers, “cradle” Orthodox and many other camps of people want to know the answer to this question during these confusing times, especially when it’s about religion or politics. Metropolitan Hilarion gives a kind of pericope (verses that are cut out to form a unified thought, Greek) that connect to this question and the themes spoken of in the liturgical texts of the Paschal Cycle. 

 In the first section, he starts with the resurrection of Christ. The great litany in the Paschal Canon of St. John of Damascus says, “This is the day of resurrection. Let us be illumined, O people.” How can we become “illumined?” Because Christ was buried and resurrected, the open door to illumination is how He lived his life on earth. His death and resurrection not only freed us as individuals from “corruption,” but the whole world can be saved. Since our bodies are made of the same elements as the universe, when we become incorrupt and illumined, likewise the universe is saved and enlightened through Jesus Christ. 

The second section discusses the Sundays from Pascha up to Pentecost that are called Antipascha (in place of Pascha, Greek). They include The Sunday of Thomas, The Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women, The Sunday of the Pool of Siloam, The Sunday of the Samaritan Woman and The Sunday of the Blind Man. All of these feasts speak of our need of spiritual healing and renewal as a “springtime of our souls” (Pentecostarion. Orthros. Ode 1, Sunday of Thomas). Unlike other Christian groups, the Orthodox Church doesn’t need to manufacture revivals or call councils for an aggiornamento (an organizational bringing up to date) in order to let a more modern mindset help us cope with a changing world. The Church has already experienced the Holy Spirit blowing fire on the Apostles and we have already left the royal doors open during the entire week of Pascha, which represents the tomb of Christ that renews our souls. The Holy Spirit can blow freshly on our lives every year during the Antipascha. All of these feasts in the Paschal cycle and Antipascha Sundays show us that the Way of Christ is to be purified, illumined, and glorified with Him. As a burial rite we hymn on Great Friday at Orthros, “O thou who puttest on light like a garment.” We too want to put on this light after we’ve been healed like the Samaritan woman and the Blind Man. 

The next feast, The Ascension of the Lord, teaches us that Christ was glorified when he ascended to His Father, and that He will return glorified. So too, we must become glorified in Jesus Christ. The cloud that appears when Jesus Christ ascended to heaven is not some kind of explainable weather pattern or hyper-abstract, psychological cloud, but it is the real glorification of God the Father through Jesus Christ in Holy Spirit. There are many more hymns, stichera, and troparia that reference “Light,” “illumination” and other enlightening realities in this chapter. 

Pentecost shows us that the Holy Spirit “illumines our souls” and “guides into all truth.” The Pentecostarion of the Sunday of Thomas says, “The queen of hours with splendor openly ministers to this light-bearing day.” When the Holy Spirit was given to the Apostles, political and racial divisions were nullified, and all nations were brought into spiritual unity through the Holy Spirit. Truth cannot exist outside of this reality and experience. The Holy Trinity is “the one indivisible light who is known in three hypostases.” When people in the Church are purified, illumined and glorified, there we will find the truth through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the only infallible source of goodness, truth, and beauty. Come join us this Saturday at 4:00p.m. to find out how to walk the ancient Way of Jesus Christ.