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Today is Orthodox Easter, or “Pascha” as it is known within the Church; to all of our readers, Inner Light Productions wishes you the very best in this Paschal season. It is our hope and prayer that the Light of our Lord will fill your heart and soul as you continue forward in your study of the Desert Fathers and Mothers and seek to apply their teachings to your life.
Our text today comes not from a Desert Father, but from St. John Chrysostom who was born in Antioch in 347. It is the text of his Paschal Sermon which is read in every Orthodox Church during the Paschal Liturgy. Although most Eastern Orthodox Christians are well familiar with this text, those of other Christian traditions may not be, so we want to share it with you today. It is truly one of those “classic” texts that cannot be read enough! The Joy of the Resurrection which St. John Chrysostom feels shines through in every word of this joyous text; we are pleased to share it with you here.
BEGIN: Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
If any man is a devout lover of God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man is a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of the Lord. If any has labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any has wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any has come at the third hour, let him have no misgivings; because he will in no wise be deprived thereof. If any has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any has 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 give rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as to him who has wrought from the first hour. And he shows mercy on the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he giveth, and upon the other he bestoweth gifts. And he 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 you all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go away hungry. All of you, enjoy the feast of faith: receive 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 shone forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He who was held prisoner of it, has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, he has made Hell captive. He angered it when it tasted of his flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was angered, when it encountered You in the lower regions. It was angered for it was abolished. It was angered, for it was mocked. It was angered, for it was slain. It was angered for it was overthrown. It was angered, 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, has become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.
Trans. by Isabel F. Hapgood, from “The Bible and the Holy Fathers for Orthodox,” ed. By Johanna Manly, (Menlo Park, California: Monastery Books, 1990), p. 11