You are on page 1of 4


by Vicki Petrakis
Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabachtani! / ‘Father, Father, why have You abandoned me?’ In the depths of His suffering the perfect Human cried out to the Father in despair, in solitude and anguish, Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabachtani! For those of us ‘crippled’ Christians who walk these days leading to Holy Easter with hope that we too will be saved some day, what comfort have these words to give us? If Christ despaired on the Cross, what hope do we have, and yet, the promise of the Resurrection cannot be accomplished without the Passion. The event of the Resurrection which the Orthodox Church celebrates each year is the highlight of Orthodoxy and the joy which the Church feasts by dressing herself in white; lighting candles in the midst of the night and chanting Χριστ ς νέστη κ νεκρ ν θανάτω θάνατον πατήσας κα το ς ν το ς µνήµασι ζω ν χαρισάµενος / ‘Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!’ But all this joy and celebration is meaningless if the Passion had not taken place; it was a necessary event having been foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament. The mission of Christ as Messiah on earth was never meant to be a peaceful event. Christ did

not come to earth for a cup of tea and a quick ‘hello’. Perhaps it may have been like that if humanity had understood at the outset what its relationship to God and the rest of humanity entailed. However, having embraced the earthly as the only reality we alienated ourselves from God. The plan for salvation therefore lay in God Himself, He came by sending His Son, His Word to fulfil our destiny in Him. He paid the price for our sins by His suffering, why then should we be amazed by the words, Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabachtani! All that He suffered, he suffered in His humanity, which felt the pain, the thirst, the humiliation and the fear of the annihilation of the soul to the Unknown. Christ suffered and for this reason Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabachtani! should not intrigue us, but humble us, maybe even bring tears to our eyes! Why not? It was not anybody who assumed my sins, our sins, but God Himself, the ‘I AM’. Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabachtani! are words that we all exclaim at one point at least in our lives, and yet the God who transcends nature, who is known to man by all that He is not, does not forsake us. St Gregory of Nyssa tells us in The Life of Moses that when we least believe or know God, that is when He is standing next to us, carrying our burden. Moses came closest to Him in the darkness of a cloud; when things no longer made sense to Moses was when God was closest to Him.
page 2

Rejoice! Christ, our eternal joy, is risen!
Presbytera Eisodia Menis
The Athonite Gerontikon includes a story of a simple elder called Father Thomas. In 1935, after the Liturgy of the Resurrection, Fr Thomas was asked by his Abbott to go to the ossuary to greet the (dead) fathers with the paschal declaration: “Christ is Risen!” He duly obeyed without second thought. Astonishingly, the relics moved, replied “Truly the Lord is Risen” and returned to their silence. The brotherhood celebrated a unique Pascha that year with their praises to God redoubled. Being deeply moved, they sang a hymn from the Matins of the Resurrection:
page 2

year XXXI May - June 2006

page 2

Sunday School / Şcoala de duminică 7 May / mai 2006

Romanian Christian Wisdom ÎnŃelepciune Creştină Românească
Revd / Preot Doru Costache
Ce Ńie nu-Ńi place, altuia nu-i face! What you dislike, do not do to somebody else! nobody think to others’ needs. Dezechilibrul constă în faptul că toŃi oamenii se gândesc exclusiv la interesele lor, în timp ce aproape nimeni nu se gândeşte la nevoile altora. prayer Our Father. There it is told: And forgive us our sins, As we forgive those who sin against us. Acest principiu este inspirat de rugăciunea Tatăl nostru. Acolo se spune: Şi ne iartă greşelile, Precum şi noi îi iertăm pe cei care greşesc faŃă de noi. The principle is almost literally taken from Luke 6:31: Do to others as you would have them do to you. Acest principiu este luat aproape literal din Luca 6:31: Ce vreŃi să vă facă vouă alŃii, faceŃi şi voi la fel pentru ei.

This represents one of the most simple and efficient moral principles. If we do and give to people what Acesta reprezintă unul din cele mai we expect for ourselves, this imsimple şi eficiente principii morale. balance disappears. Dacă facem şi le dăm oamenilor Tensions between people come ceea ce aşteptăm pentru noi înşine, from a lack of balance in their be- acest dezechilibru dispare. haviour. Tensiunile dintre oameni vin dintr- For instance, we have to forgive the others if we want to be foro lipsă de echilibru în given. comportamentul lor. De exemplu, trebuie să-i iertăm pe The imbalance consists in the fact alŃii dacă dorim să fim iertaŃi. that all people think exclusively to This principle is inspired by the their own interests while almost
Resurrection...  page 1

The Resurrection is the hope that we all have as Christians, no matter how much we avoid this glorious occasion by the lives we live. First do we fully understand about our personal resurrection in this life and in the next? I for one am certainly perplexed by the former and amazed by the latter; perhaps revealing my personal reaction to Christ’s words, Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabachtani! Once again this Pascha, as I approach the joy of the Resurrection, I cannot help but wonder:

spirit….that mystery of movement unintelligible to the senses for You have no taste other than your sweet manna; You have no smell other than Your myron; You have no visibility other than the eyes You sent me; and to touch You is to feel the gentle breeze of the wind telling me Your spirit is close; ah but to hear You that is my longing; to hear You Lord, to understand You, to concur with Your will so that we may live in peace together.

Rejoice... page 1

As I approach Your resurrection Lord, the mind is no longer moved by thoughts but numbed by the what is this Resurrection Lord that mystery of You….all around me is You as I recall Your own words to in Your perfect humanity You me… personally, “Love God and make a mockery of death; You transgress the laws of nature and love your fellow man”. Who are You Lord that I should want to come back to life and not to this one that I am familiar with but to know You? another….a place of the

Your Resurrection, Christ Saviour, Angels sing in heaven; grant that we too, who are on earth, may with pure hearts give glory to you. There are similar stories in other monastic anthologies. In this bright time of the paschal season the story is enriching. Seeing the words of the monks’ song, I returned to the Matins to read them once again in their context. May we with pure hearts, they say, give glory to our Lord. Again the Matins of the Resurrection teaches us: Let us purify our senses, and in the unapproachable light of the resurrection we shall see Christ shining forth, and we shall clearly hear him saying ‘Rejoice!’, as we sing the triumphal song.

Parochial Life | may - june 2006 |

page 3

Discerning the Paschal Mystery
by Revd Dr Doru Costache

PASCHAL MYSTERY 1 Christ is risen! The night of the Holy Pascha is one among the many beginnings which compose the liturgical year. It represents the Christian version of the Jewish Simhat Torah, a festival of ending and starting again the reading of the Torah in the Synagogue during a year. In a similar way, the Eastern Christian Pascha represents the moment when the annual circuit of the readings from the New Testament begins. The indicated readings for this period are the Gospel according to St John and the Acts of the Apostles. The first celebrates and proclaims the ecclesial vision of Christ, while the second proclaims and celebrates the new life, as experienced by the Church of Christ. The feeling is similar. During Simhat Torah, the Synagogue chants our Torah is a Tree of Life for everyone. In the night of the Holy Pascha, the Church chants the joy of the new life in Christ, the latter being the Tree of Life PASCHAL MYSTERY 2 Christ is risen! At the end of the first paschal octave (i.e. the first week of eight days), the two readings end by speaking of life. this represents the most appropriate exegesis of the paschal mystery. Acts 5:19-20: during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life”
Parochial Life | may - june 2006 |

John 20:31: Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name At the end of the larger paschal octave (i.e. the eighth Sunday of the Holy Pascha), we receive the Holy Spirit, the shared Life of the Life. The paschal mystery is the proclamation and celebration of the eighth day of creation, which is the mystery of plentiful life PASCHAL MYSTERY 3 Christ is risen! Why the day of the resurrection is the day of the Pascha? It is because this day we celebrate the resurrected Christ, who truly is the Pascha (Passover). It is the celebration of a person, not just of an event involving that person. The person is the key of our sur-vival (living in a superior way, not just surviving an unfortunate event): he is the ladder (cf. John 1:51), he is the way, the truth and the life (cf. John 14:6), he is the mediator between us and God (cf. 1 Timothy 2:5), he is our participation in the divine life (cf. 2 Peter 1:4). The event is just the manifestation of all these… Christ is the new Pascha, we recite, like summarising the opening strophe of the canon: The day of the resurrection! Rejoice, people! Pascha of the Lord, Pascha! Christ our God passed us from death to life and from earth to heavens, those who chant the hymn of victory

Christ is the/our passing from slavery to freedom, from sinfulness to virtue (cf. Romans 6 – an explanation for the reason why, during the ancient times, baptisms were performed in the night of the Pascha), from darkness to light (cf. 1 Peter 2:9). It is not by chance that during the paschal liturgy we hear: the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5) PASCHAL MYSTERY 4 Christ is risen! The liturgy of the resurrection reveals simultaneously the identity and the outcome of the Pascha the identity: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made (John 1:1-3). The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). The outcome: all who received him, those who believed in his name, he gave the power to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God (John 1:1213). From the fullness of his grace we have all received one grace after another (John 1:16). The Son of God became the Son of Man that the sons of man become sons of God
page 4

page 4

Discerning... page 3

was the death itself, acknowledged and experienced as nothing

PASCHAL MYSTERY 5 All the time, everyday, St SeraPASCHAL MYSTERY 8 phim of Sarov greeted everybody Christ is risen! with: Christ, my joy, has risen! John 1:14: we have seen his glory 1 John 1:1-4: that which was PASCHAL MYSTERY 6 from the beginning, which we Christ is risen! The Holy Pascha represents the have heard, which we have seen feast of the body. It celebrates the with our eyes, which we have salvation of the body, not from the looked at and our hands have body. Many have thought that touched—this we proclaim consalvation is the escape of the soul cerning the Word of life. The life from the body. Some went too far appeared; we have seen it and with this philosophy... Lucian testify to it, and we proclaim to Blaga jokes in a poem on a monk you the eternal life, which was who mocked so much his body, with the Father and has appeared than it became impossible for him to us. We proclaim to you what to find his body at we have seen and heard, so that the eschatological resurrection of you also may have communion all... with us. And our communion is The facts are this: the Logos took with the Father and with his Son, upon himself a body; he lived in Jesus Christ. We write this to this body what belongs to human make our joy complete life; he transfigured and resurCelebrating Holy Pascha is to rected this body, with all that open our eyes – to see the unseen. represents human life. The Resurrected opened the eyes The Holy Pascha celebrates the of his disciples (cf. Luke 24:30passing of the body into a new 31 & 45). existential dimension Adam and Eve closed their minddeified, but still a body nonethe- eye and unwisely opened the senless sible, allowing themselves to get drunk with the beauty of the world. Only this beauty is ephemPASCHAL MYSTERY 7 eral, and existentially neuter. One Christ is risen! Trampling down death by death: cannot become a better person by the only hope for a resurrection is just seeing beautiful things… by assuming the defeat. But this Celebrating Holy Pascha is to is just one side of reality. The su- keep open the sensible eye, and perficial, though not necessarily more – to open again the mindlacking heroism. From another eye. This may provide us with the perspective, one has to kill his/her opportunity of seeing more, of own prejudices in order to acquire seeing beyond, of getting transa wider horizon and a more realis- formed into what we see. And tic understanding. For instance, then, of transforming everything we all are desperate to live. And else we see. this precisely is the cause of our To those unable to experience this alchemy, nothing could be bright, inexorable death. luminous. Jesus understood this and went Rejoice! The light shines in the glorious towards death, killing step by step his fears. Eventually, darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it. when he breathed for the last time, not the life was defeated – it

editor: Rev. Doru Costache, PhD layout design: Ion Nedelcu (Bucharest) address: 64 Linthorn Ave, Croydon Park, NSW 2133. phone: (02) 9642 02 60

Parochial Life | may - june 2006 |