GreekNews - May 3, 2013

Former Archbishop Spyridon: The Meaning of Pascha

New York.- By Vicki James Yiannias

Celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the joy in the heart of Orthodox Christians. So rich and moving are the liturgical services of Pascha that many non-Orthodox are drawn to the power and beauty of the Service of the Resurrection. For their benefit and for all the readers of the Greek News, Vicki James Yiannias asked His Eminence Former Archbishop Spyridon to talk about the real meaning of Pascha.

GN: How important is Pascha in the Orthodox Christian tradition?

Archbishop Spyridon: The Pascha of the Lord is by far the defining feast of joy and gladness in the life of Orthodox Christians. It is “the chosen day,” “the holy day, the queen and lady of days, the feast of feasts and the festival of festivals.” It is that day on which they praise and glorify the Risen Lord.

GN: Why is the Resurrection considered so important in the Orthodox Christian faith? What is the meaning of the Resurrection?

Archbishop Spyridon: The Resurrection signifies the victory of Christ over death. It also means the victory of good over evil, of truth over deceit, of love over hatred. Indeed, the victory of the Resurrection is for Orthodox Christians the foundation of their faith, of their hope, and of their very life.

Orthodox Christians call Pascha a brilliant, radiant Day, because it spreads light from within. For them the Resurrection is light. This light illuminates and interprets the preceding mysteries of the divine plan for man: the Manger, the Passion, the Cross, the Burial. On Easter Orthodox Christians celebrate the recapitulation of all in Christ Jesus through the radiant and most glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

GN: How do Orthodox Christians manifest this belief?

Archbishop Spyridon: For forty days after the Pascha of the Lord, Orthodox Christians greet one another with the words: Christ is Risen! – He is truly Risen! In so doing they confirm, to those near and those afar, their belief that the Lord has indeed overcome the world and has brought everyone salvation. When they pronounce these words, they proclaim a message that takes away all fear of death and brings in its stead hope in eternal life.

While celebrating the Resurrection of Christ, the passage from death to life, the Church welcomes all her believers with this invaluable greeting: “Enter, all, into the joy of the Lord.” The Church does not show partiality. The Resurrection is “common” for all.

It has objective value and basis. Therefore, the Church invites all her children to celebrate at the same Table, those who are first and those who are second, the rich and the poor, those who keep the faith and the tradition and those who show indifference. All are called to enjoy “the banquet of the faith,” the richness of the goodness of God.

GN: What meaning do Easter customs and particular Paschal celebrations have?

Archbishop Spyridon: While Orthodox Easter customs and traditions may vary from region to region and country to country, they all express one and the same basic human need to embrace each other, to forgive one another, and to be united as members of one family so that joy may be brought to their existence and light to their lives.

Orthodox Christian celebrations of the Resurrection indicate the profound belief that Pascha is a day of joy for the entire Christian world, and especially for Orthodoxy, which more than any other church or denomination, revolves its life and thought around the event of the Resurrection of the Lord.

GN: Does the message of the Resurrection reach even further? That is to say, is it limited only to Christian believers?

Archbishop Spyridon: Christ’s victory over death is for all men, because Christ embraces all human beings.

On the sacred icon of the Resurrection we see Christ coming out of Hades, holding in his two hands Adam and Eve, that is, the whole of humanity –all those who have lived before us, all of us who are alive today, and all who shall live until the end of the world. His victory over death is every human being’s victory over death.

Hence, the Resurrection of the Lord does not have significance for Christians only. It concerns all people because it is concerned with the most basic, most existential problem of man everywhere at all times. The Resurrection of the Lord proclaims to everyone that destruction and death do not have the final word in existence, that the cross, depravation and pain, the humiliation and the oppression of the strong over the weak, of the many over the few, does not have the last word in history; that beyond every cross and every tomb there is Resurrection and life.

[ GreekNews - - May 3, 2013 ]