Orthodox Christians around the world celebrated Holy Week, marking the end of the Lenten Easter period with solemn, beautiful and profound services commemorating the Passion and Resurrection of Christ. The sacramental and ascetic spiritual life incorporating fasting, prayer, scriptural reading, almsgiving, confession, communion and inner reflection manifesting a spirit of repentance, forgiveness and mercy during this period represents a celebration of ones love for Christ. Thus, these are undertaken with a spirit of humility and love, as one reflects on the life and teachings of Christ, leading to inner transformation of the mind, heart and soul or “Sanctification”. The Christian attempts to become by grace what Christ is in essence, “Love” and manifest the fruits of The Holy Spirit in their life: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Such inner transformation represents an outpouring of love and yearning for the mind, heart and soul to be transformed by the love of Christ through the grace of The Holy Spirit.
One truly experiences a myriad of emotions from joyful anticipation to sadness, tears and finally triumphant joy as one participates in Christ’s Passion from Palm Sunday marking the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem, betrayal by Judas, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. The liturgical celebration filled with a multitude of scriptural passages from the Old and New Testament, intermingled with the sweet scent of frankincense, warm glow of candle light and beautiful chanting of hymns, especially the “Lamentations” moves ones heart and soul transporting one back centuries to early Christendom. I found myself contemplating the words uttered by Prince Vladimir of Kiev’s envoys, after they had visited Constantinople, capital of the Roman Empire in 988 AD and experienced the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church, celebrated from the time of the Apostles…
“We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for surely there is no such splendour or beauty anywhere upon earth. We cannot describe it to you, only this we know, that God dwells there among humans, and that their service surpasses the worship of all other places. For we cannot forget that beauty”.
Finally, in triumphant joy the congregation sing an ancient hymn heralding Christ’s Resurrection and proclaim “Christ Has Risen, Truly He Has Risen” while exchanging the kiss of peace. Afterwards, everyone gathers to break the fast and participate in a feast of joyous celebration marking the Resurrection of Christ. I was tired and exhausted yet full of joy at experiencing Easter, an event most dear to my heart and soul yet again.
John 3:16 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 4:13-14 (KJV)
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
John 11:25-26 (KJV)
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?