• The Paschal Sermon

    The Catechetical Sermon of St. John Chrysostom is read during Matins of Pascha.

    If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

    And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

    Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

    O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

    Saint John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople

    About St. John Chrysostom:

    St. John Chrysostom (“The Golden Tongue”) was born at Antioch in about the year 347 into the family of a military-commander, spent his early years studying under the finest philosophers and rhetoricians and was ordained a deacon in the year 381 by the bishop of Antioch Saint Meletios. In 386 St. John was ordained a priest by the bishop of Antioch, Flavian.

    Over time, his fame as a holy preacher grew, and in the year 397 with the demise of Archbishop Nektarios of Constantinople—successor to Sainted Gregory the Theologian—Saint John Chrysostom was summoned from Antioch for to be the new Archbishop of Constantinople.

    Exiled in 404 and after a long illness because of the exile, he was transferred to Pitius in Abkhazia where he received the Holy Eucharist, and said, “Glory to God for everything!”, falling asleep in the Lord on 14 September 407.

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  • The Human Condition

    Saint Justin Popovich

    We humans find ourselves on the road between paradise and hell, between God and the devil. All our thoughts and reflections, and every one of our feelings, bring the soul a little closer to paradise or hell. If a thought or reflection is rational (that is Godly) and brings us to the Divine Word, Who is beyond comprehension and conception, then that is already paradise for us. But if the thought lacks the Divine Word and is not in accord with Him, it inevitably brings us to absurdity and folly, to the devil, and this is already hell. What is true of thought also holds good for feelings. So, for us, everything begins here on earth, paradise or hell. Our life on this planet is an enormous drama: all the time, the ephemeral clashes with the eternal, the mortal with the immortal, the good with the evil, the things of the devil with those of God.

    Human thought is a curse when there’s no desire to transform it into prayer, and for it to be perfected with prayer. It’s inconceivable for there to be thought which, in the face of the mysteries of the cosmos, is not transformed into prayerful wonderment and yearning. There is nothing more wonderful than thought which, at the sight of God’s cosmos, unconsciously pours itself out in prayer.

    Within everything worldly, there is something of the heavenly; in everything natural, there is the supernatural. In a grain of wheat, there is a part of heaven, because, for it to be born, it has already absorbed the light, the heat and the winds of the heavens. There is something of the stars in every form of plant life, minerals, every living organism, and, particularly, in every human being. Everything in this earthly world is closely linked to the heavenly world. The conduit from the natural to the supernatural and vice versa is both mystical and impenetrable, and therefore cannot be subjected to any evaluation by human investigative initiatives. Through the invisible protons and photons, the supernatural mysteriously permeates the natural, the invisible pervades the visible. And, through the mystical photons of the soul, the luminous energies of the Divine Word infuse our human existence. So there are no sealed borders between the supernatural and the natural, between the visible and the invisible. In everything earthly, there is a great deal of the heavenly.

    It is up to us to build upon and cultivate within us whatever is eternal and theanthropic, to develop an infinite sense and recognition of eternal life. This, indeed, is why God the Word ‘became human’: in order to teach us how to achieve eternal life in this ephemeral world. Our faith is nothing other than an unceasing struggle for eternal life, a constant witness for eternal life (1 Tim. 6, 12). The earth is a battleground of suffering for eternal life. This is our calling. If you think otherwise, you are not one of Christ’s people.

    Knowledge and faith! Between the impulses of the two, the human spirit suffers trials and tribulations without number. If there is one thing that is an effort for the human spirit, it is knowledge; why would faith not be, as well? Of course it is. This is where we find numberless shipwrecked souls, but also survivors. Both knowledge and faith are logically equally valid. In essence the whole of knowledge is based on faith. In the case of faith, it is that our conscience is healthy, rational, natural and worthy of our trust. We accept the world in the way our organs of knowledge present and represent it, and this is so because we have confidence in our human knowledge, which, by its nature is invisible and intangible. Faith, as an instrument of knowledge, is aware that, for perceptible human knowledge, it is above intellection and conception. It has its own eye, which sees the invisible. Of course, the fields of vision, of faith and knowledge, are both restricted: that which is beyond conception is inconceivable. Yet it still engages, in witness, the soul which embraces Tertullian’s formula of fervent faith: ‘Credo quia absurdum est’, ‘I believe because it is absurd’, or rather ‘is beyond reason and conception’. Knowledge of God is so far beyond reason that it often appears to be absurd.

    Source: Pemptousia

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