Christ is Risen and Life Reigns!
As the celebration of Holy Pascha comes to an end for this year, let us never allow this great joy to ever leave us, regardless of how oddly things may have gone this year. The eternal joy of Christ’s Resurrection is summarized beautifully in this excerpt from a homily by Fr. Anatoly Pravdolubov (+1981):
“In a word, the Resurrection of Christ has removed from us any reason for sorrow whatsoever. The death of Our Savior and His Glorious Resurrection has freed us from sorrow forever.
And now, neither sorrow, nor wounds nor persecution can separate us from the love of Our Lord Jesus, nor can they take from us that eternal, incorruptible, indescribable and unspeakable Joy.
Christ is Risen—and we rejoice, not only on Holy Pascha, but daily, hourly; Christ is Risen—for we all now become—one for another—an inexhaustible source of joy as we love one another with the great Love of Christ; Christ is Risen—and forever He has made us glad with a joy that is incorruptible, eternal and inexhaustible.”
As St. John Chrysostom exhorts: “Christ is Risen and life reigneth!” Glory be to God that—as far as I know—none of our parishioners have been affected by this new virus. May God continue to protect us thusly in the future! We are hopeful that our local government will allow us to reopen our church fairly soon so that we may resume a (more or less) normal church life. We’ll see how this all plays out. In the meantime, we are preparing necessary policies and procedures to protect the safety and well-being of all our parishioners before, during, and after services in our church while the coronavirus threat still lingers. I will be most happy to see all of you in our church once this joyous opportunity arises. I miss you all very much!
Fr. Stefan Pavlenko recently expressed the following sentiments in this regard, with which I wholeheartedly agree:
“No matter what the outcome of the ongoing pandemic is at present, we have all experienced these most sacred days of the year as we have never experienced them before.
“For all of us, it has been tears and sorrow, fear and trembling, intermixed with radiant bursts of joy and inexplicable gladness, buttressed with heartfelt peace, joy and thanksgiving. Truly, it has been a gift and an important lesson given to all of us!
“The pandemic has been presented to all of us, no doubt, as a lesson to cherish and not take for granted our Church Life, and the opportunity to attend church services, in church, whenever we wish.
“Having said that…we must continue the good hygiene habits that we have acquired, knowing that if we keep them after the initial dangers pass, we will be insuring that all future flu symptoms, viruses, and communicable diseases, will be slowed, curbed and more safely, readily and quickly vanquished.
“If we have learned anything at all, it is that we must NOT give up our more intense, sincere and fuller prayer rules, but preserve and even bolster our spiritual fervor. In this way, we strengthen, develop, protect and preserve our spiritual health and not revert back to pre-pandemic laxity.
“Whenever we are able, we should attend church services, remembering that they can so easily be taken away from us. We should continue to be mindful of those who are permanently bound to their residences, contact them regularly and try to be of service to all who are elderly or infirm.
“If the storm clouds thicken and troubling times redouble against us, we can be thankful that a testing period was presented to us and that we learned lessons about ourselves, our families and our communities which will allow us to make the correct adjustments to our efforts and our domineering personality traits. With all this behind us and with the help of God, we will be able to face even more difficult situations and more aggressive adversaries.
“May Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ protect, preserve, guide, keep and save all of us.”
Amen, Father Stefan! Amen!