Posts Tagged ‘resurrection’

Christ is Risen : Truly, He is Risen

Written by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III on . Posted in Feasts

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The resurrection of Jesus is the strength of the church. It is the strength of a new life given to us by Jesus, to whom is the glory. When He trampled death and subdued Hades, He was victorious for us against the fearful enemy. The feast of the resurrection is a new chance for everyone. It is the strength of our resurrection, which we received in baptism, when we were buried with Jesus in the baptism of death. So as Jesus rises from the dead, then that is how we dwell in the new life.

Who will role over the stone?

It is the dawn of the resurrection… The women are on their way to the tomb in the early hours of the morning. They are carrying incense. They were saying among themselves, “Who shall roll us away the stone?” (Mark 16:3). There was a big stone placed against the door of the tomb. It could not be perceived by the human mind that these women could reach the body of the savior.

Numerously, it seams that Jesus is imprisoned in my soul, as if motionless, as He was in the tomb before the resurrection. This great stone of my numerous sins kept Him as a prisoner. How many times my soul lingered to see Jesus rising in His light and might! How many times I have tried to role over the stone, but without prevail? For the weight of the stone, bound by habits, was heavier. Many times I have said in despair, “Who shall roll away the stone?” (Mark 16:3).

Despite that, the women are on their way to the tomb. Their approach is a work of faith. So whether that was faith or craziness, still it will be rewarded. Then I will have to continue in my overwhelming desire, so that the stone would be rolled away. But the women didn’t go to the tomb empty handed they brought sweet spices for the Savior’s body, (Mark 16:1). Therefore, I have to bring something with me – at least as my good gesture – that is if I desire that the stone be rolled over from my soul. This gesture should be of value, even if it was a token, but it has to constitute a sacrifice. And now… The women have found that the stone was removed in an unexpected way. “There was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door.” (Matt. 28:2).

To remove the stone, there should have been an amazing miracle – An earthquake – because a push or a snug was not enough. It is the same for that stone within me, which seems to paralyze the movement of Jesus. It requires an earthquake… That is an internal overhaul, a full uprooting change. The matter requires an illuminated projectile that will shake me. This is how Jesus rises within me to subdue the old and make room for the new. This surpasses the arrangements and organizations, for it requires death which is followed by birth. The angel has announced to the disciples that Jesus, who is risen, is waiting for them in Galilee. Jesus Himself asserts the fact, saying, “Go into Galilee, and there shall they see Me.” (Matt. 28:10).

Why is the return to Galilee? Is Jesus trying to protect his disciples from the adversity of the Jews? Or does He want to confirm that after the turbulence of His sufferings, there will come days of peace and tranquility? Maybe… But it seems that there is a more deep reason than that. Jesus met His disciples in Galilee. There they heard His call and started to follow it. Therefore, the memories of those days will stay with our souls youthfully and refreshingly. This was after some of them were weak and hopeless, without faith during His sufferings. Jesus wanted them to return once more to their first vigor and their old warmth… He wanted to renew their emotions and their will, which were there when they first met. In the atmosphere of the Galilee, which the Lord has returned to, was for the new life, which He will fulfill and declare to them. There is a ‘Galilee’ in the life of each of us. Or at least among those who, one day, met the Savior and loved Him. The ‘Galilee’ is the time, during which I felt the Lord is looking at me, and calling my name. Since that time, long years have passed, maybe burdened with a lot of sins, during which it seems that I have forgotten Jesus. But despite this – whoever meets Jesus – even once – will never forget Him. Here is Jesus calling on me to go to the ‘Galilee’ of my life, to reconfirm that love, which I was characterized with during my early days. There I will see Him anew.

My Master… I would like to return to the ‘Galilee’, but will I meet You there? How will my heart illuminate, that which was dim? Is it just by mentioning the ‘Galilee’, my life will be content, will I regain my emotions, with my first meeting with You? “And, behold, He goes before you into Galilee.” (Matt. 28:7). My son, don’t think about the new meeting in pain. I will be honest in the promise that I will strike with you. I will do more, just for the intention of your waiting, in the ‘Galilee’ of memories. I will be there before you, to guide you. When you stead fast your heart anew in ‘Galilee’, then He is the One who will guide you, He will know you and will talk with you…

The different features of Jesus

Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection. He came to them. He didn’t spend time in scolding them for their weak belief, and they didn’t waist time to apologize, or explain their excuses. But everything happened in simplicity and love giving, He said unto them, “Have you here any meat?” (Luke 24:41). “And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.” (Luke 24:42).

So life returns to its original nature, to that time from when it ceased. If I betrayed Jesus and left Him, when I set a time to return to Him, I don’t have to worry or prepare for such a meeting. I only have to let Him return into my daily life. I would place Him in my current events. Get Him involved in my problems and my wishes. It is enough to offer Jesus His share of the fish and honeycomb. At this instance Jesus will be present at the table. He will share our lives anew. This happens in the blink of an eye. But we have to act in humility and repentance. The exterior condition is simple and easy, but we require an overhaul from within We require to surrender, and be humble. “After that He appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.” (Mark 16:12). Jesus, after His resurrection, appeared to individuals who knew Him (John 20:20).

We beseech Jesus our Lord, who has risen from the dead, to give us the spirit of the resurrection from within, to renew our lives and our repentance. We desire Him to enter unto us, even if the doors were closed, so that we can hear His divine voice.

How to Benefit Spiritually in the Holy Pascha Week

Written by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III on . Posted in Fasts and Holy Pascha, Spirituality

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1. Our Behavior Inside and Outside of Church

It is very noticeable that many people during Pascha Week are one thing inside church and completely different outside. In side church, black curtains, somber hymns, solemn readings, and concentrating on the suffering of Christ. Outside of church, we often laugh, joke around, socialize, think and talk about many worldly issues. We lose all the spiritual depth that we gained inside church. Let us concentrate our thoughts, conversations, and meditations around the events of this holy week and the Passion of our Savior.

2. Retreat

During our regular fasting days, we pt the words of the bible before us, “Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly.” (Joel 1:14). How much more then should we apply this commandment during Holy Week? This week should be characterized by solitude and retreat with God, by staying away from idle discussions and various means of entertainment of pleasure. Reserve your time to God and to spiritual activities worthy of this week.

In the first hour of the Monday of the Holy Pascha, we read St. Shenouda’s homily, which warns us: “Brethren if we want o escape God’s punishment and find mercy in His eyes, let us sit every evening alone by ourselves and search our souls…”

3. Follow the Steps of Christ

Meditate on the events of the week one by one: from Palm Sunday, when Christ refused His worldly kingdom and the Jews gave up their hope in Him, until they crucified and buried Him. On Palm Sunday, ask yourself, “Is Christ King and Lord over everything in my life? Do I, like Christ, turn down worldly glory for spiritual and eternal glory? During the General Funeral Service, do I consider myself attending my own funeral?”

And when the church denounces Judas’ traitorous kiss on the eve of the Wednesday of Pascha Week, ask yourself in prayer, “How often, O Lord have I betrayed You? How many times have I told You words of love in prayers, while my actions show the opposite and my heart is far away from You?”

4. Share in the Fellowship of His Suffering

Saint Paul said, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death.” (Philippians 3:10) Can we give ourselves an exercise this week to share in the fellowship of His suffering and be conformed to His death? Can we follow Him in His suffering and ascend with Him to the Cross? Can we say with St. Paul, “With Christ I have been crucified; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” ? (Galatians 2:20).

Therefore, in order for Christ to live in us, we have to carry our cross and follow Him. If you have a cross in your life, do not complaint about it. Instead, rejoice in it and bear it for Christ’s sake. “for to you has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him but to suffer for His sake.” (Philippians 1:29).

5. Asceticism

Whoever puts the suffering of Christ before him will not take any pleasure in eating and drinking or pampering the body. But in order to succeed in pursuing asceticism, we must satisfy our souls with spiritual food so that it may thrive and overcome physical hunger. It was customary for the Church to fast until at least the 9th hour on normal fasting days and until sunset during the Holy Week of Pascha.

St. Athanasius even declared that this period of Holy Week should be received with “longer prayers, fasts, and vigils so that we may be able to anoint our lintels with precious blood and escape the destroyer.” And again, the blessed saint says, “Let us thus engage in the holy fasts, as having been prescribed by Him, and by means of which we find the way to God.”

6. Spiritual Readings

Spiritual readings are also food for the soul. The church has organized for us a treasure of appropriate readings for every day of the Holy Week, comprised of Gospel readings, Old Testament prophesies that correspond to the events of each day, spiritual explanations and sermons of the Church Fathers. On Bright Saturday (Apocalypse night) the church reads the entire Book of Revelation.

7. Hymns

The hymns of the Pascha Week are moving and full of spiritual depth. Hymns, like reading, preserve the thought from wandering and guide it in spiritual direction. We should continue to recite the hymns while walking, meditating, resting.

8. Prayer

Since the prayers of the Agpeya are not used during Holy Week, we are to substitute personal prayers in their place, in addition to the intensive prayers of the church, asking the Lord who bore the sins of the world and died for us, to forgive and have mercy upon us according to His great mercy.

9. Confession and Communion

During this week, each person must sit with himself and remember his sins and put them on Christ’s shoulders and tell Him in shame, “Carry O Lord my sins too, with the sins of the rest of humanity. Take my sins and nail them to the Cross with You, so that Your Blood may wipe them away!”

Look carefully at your sins and know that they are the cause of His crucifixion. Many people cry out of their sorrow for Christ’s suffering while they crucify Him every day with their sins. We should not feel sorry for Christ during this week, but should be sorry for our sins that caused Him these pains. As Jesus told the women that were crying over Him, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not cry for Me, but cry for yourselves and your children.” (Luke 23:28).

Before the Cross, we all stand as sinners, all under the condemnation. “no one is righteous, not even one.” (Psalm 14:3). We confess our sins and prepare ourselves for communion. There are three liturgies during Holy Week: on Passover Thursday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday (Preceded, of course, by the Liturgy of Palm Sunday).

10. Spiritual Storage

Pascha Week is not an opportunity to benefit for a week only, but a time to store up spiritual nourishment enough to last the whole year, particularly needed during the 50 days after the Resurrection when there is no fasting.

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