Priest’s Corner, April 2020: A Paschal Message
Priest’s Corner: The Promise of Pascha
Every year, at the beginning of Great and Holy Lent, we are encouraged to increase our spiritual efforts over the last year and previous year’s Lent and to conduct it as never before. Those words have never rung more true than they do for us today. Never have we—of modern generations living in America—experienced anything as the closures of our schools, our places of work, and, most important, our churches—as we are experiencing during this coronavirus pandemic. How often we have spoken of how difficult it must have been for our parents and grandparents, who lived through the horrors of the Bolshevik Revolution, the Soviet Union, the Second World War with the fear and uncertainty that came with these cataclysms. Our spiritual fathers have reminded us time and time again of how we should consider these examples from our past and value what we have—particularly when it comes to our ability to freely worship God in our churches. We were warned, time and time again, not to take anything for granted. Indeed, we have all heard the adage of how we don’t truly appreciate anything, until we have lost it.
It cannot escape our attention that the restrictions brought about by this pandemic come now, during the most holy time of the year—Great Lent, a time when we wish to be in church, repenting of our sins and receiving the saving Grace of the Holy Mysteries. While we are trying to make the best of this situation through live streaming our services and modifying the normal conduct of Holy Confession and Holy Communion, our inability to gather in our church to pray together during these uniquely prayerful services is painful to say the least. Even Holy Week and Pascha services are to be restricted as well. This unthinkable reality is something all of us should consider and look deeply into our own souls to try to understand why this is happening.
But as difficult as these times are for us, they are certainly nothing compared with what our parents, grandparents, and countless generations before them have endured—and survived. The fear and uncertainty that came with countless plagues, wars, and manmade and natural disasters have all been overcome through faith in the knowledge that all these things are allowed by God ultimately for our benefit. The words of the Lord’s Prayer, which we have all recited daily since our childhood: “Thy will be done…” must become for us, as it did for our forebears, not mere words, but a living trust in God’s benevolence and love for us. For indeed, if God’s will is done in all things—no matter what the outcome—it will always be right. Such trust, such faith, is what we need now. Such trust, such faith, is what calms our fears and brings peace to our hearts. “Peace, I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (Jn. 14:27)
Let us now, more than ever, place our trust in God’s hands, knowing that only through His mercy and love for mankind, this pandemic will pass. May this Pascha—wherever or however we end up celebrating it—bring us hope and joy in the knowledge that through His sacrifice on the Cross and His Bright Resurrection, He has “trampled down Death by death” and now bestows upon all of us His love, His benevolence, and the promise of Eternal Life in His Heavenly Kingdom!
Glory to Thy passion, O Christ, Glory to Thy most Holy Resurrection, O Lord! Truly Our Lord is risen!
— Fr. Alexander