Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching; and again, unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless. Beware, therefore, O my soul … lest you be shut out of the Kingdom! But rouse yourself, crying: “Holy, holy, holy, are You, O our God!” Through the Theotokos have mercy on us!
– Troparion of Bridegroom Matins
With the words of this hymn, we Orthodox Christian’s enter into Holy Week (Passion Week), accompanying Our Lord Jesus Christ through His voluntary sufferings, betrayal, trial, crucifixion death and burial, culminating in the Glorious Resurrection, the precious Pascha and the assurance of mankind’s salvation!
This Great Lent has been anything but normal or “regular” for us with the shuttering of our church and the suspension of our liturgical worship.
Looking back to the Wednesday evening of the second week of Great Lent, as I was serving the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy, a strange feeling came over me that maybe this would be the last service that I would celebrate for awhile. It seems so unfathomable that our entire state, most of our nation and probably the whole world has come to an almost complete halt!
Life as we know it has changed but as we reflect in our homes, imagine what the apostles, the women friends of Jesus and his followers felt during this week. To them this probably seemed like the end, a hopeless situation where their Master, Jesus Christ, was taken from their midst, without any way to stop it. It was incomprehensible to them that He, the Lord would leave them, but this was not the case nor the end, for rather it was the beginning of the Promise of the salvation of mankind. He voluntarily offered himself as the sacrificial Lamb in order to take away the sins of all of us.
Though we may be presently feeling helpless and alone, we, like the early followers of the Risen Lord will one day together enjoy the culmination of God’s redemption of mankind. We will truly experience something that we read about in the Gospels firsthand. God, through His Resurrection, assures all of us life eternal for those that believe in him! There is no greater joy then that.
Therefore, as we journey towards Pascha, whether with or without services, the Resurrection will occur in our hearts, spiritually comforting us and assuring us of God’s unconditional love for His creation. Pascha is Pascha! It is our gift from God and that alone should help us endure separation and isolation because each of us will have the Pascha of our hearts, a personal Pascha between the Christian soul and the Risen Lord.
May the Risen Lord bless us and keep us, as we sing with one voice, “Christ is Risen from the dead trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”
Christ is Risen – Indeed He is Risen!
With love in the Risen Lord,
Fr. John Perich