Archive for April 9th, 2010

The Mystery of Pascha – Expanded

April 9, 2010

I have, on occasion, edited and reissued a post – though not as quickly as this one. My post from earlier this week seemed to want a few more words – something to draw the reader closer to the mystery itself. I offer this small addition and pray it is of some use.

In his Revelation, St. John describes Christ as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (13:8). It is one of many interesting statements within that book of images and wonders. However, his description of Christ has much to say about the mystery ofPascha (Christ’s resurrection).

First, it is clear that Pascha is more than a historical event. It is certainly includes the historical death, burial and resurrection of Christ. But statements such as St. John’s point to the fact that Pascha is also an event in which that which is outside of time intersects time. For this reason the celebration of Pascha is never simply a celebration of something that happened long ago. The event that happened long ago is also the event that happened before there was a creation and the event that will be the culmination of everything in the End.

This is the very heart of the Orthodox Christian understanding of the life of the Church. Christ’s Pascha is our very life. It is present to us at every moment and is the source of our life and the truth of our existence. We believe that especially when the Church gathers together for worship, we stand in Christ’s Pascha. Heaven and earth meet and we are united with God in the feast of His Body and Blood. Heaven and earth meet; present, past and future meet with that which is beyond time. The created meets the Uncreated.

Within the Pascha of Christ is the meaning and fulfillment of all things. Much of modern Christianity has married itself to the secular world’s linear view of history. In such a context, Pascha begins to fade into a memorial of the past, or, worse still, an annual culture event.

Of course, it is impossible for such a festival not to have a cultural context – human beings produce cultures. However, we should understand that it is not the culture that gives meaning to Pascha – but Pascha which gives meaning to a culture.

In the 12th Chapter of Exodus, Passover or Pascha, is described as an “eternal festival.” The statement can be taken simply to mean that it is a feast that should always be observed. But it can also be taken to mean that the feast that is Pascha is an eternal matter, that its celebration is more than historical remembrance – it is a participation in the eternal Pascha of Christ.

St. Paul hints at this aspect of Christ’s Pascha:

For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthian 5:7-8)

Here St. Paul is not speaking of a particular feast day, but of the entire Christian life as the Pascha of Christ. Christ has become our Pascha – our way into life out of the bondage of death. Therefore, he says, we should keep this feast of the Christian life not with malice and wickedness – which St. Paul compares to “old leaven” or “old yeast” – meaning our old way of life. Rather, he says that our daily Christian Pascha should be with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Truth plays a very important role in the life of our daily Pascha. Part of the nature of the life given to us in Christ – is that it is truelife. To live a false life, or to speak in a way that is not true – is to have turned ourselves away from Christ, who is the Truth, and from His life, which is our true, authentic existence.

Speaking the truth is a manifestation of Pascha on our lips.

The same can be said of sincerity. To be truly who we are with others – not to lead a life of dissimulation or deceit – such things are the very nature of true life. The deceitfulness of modern existence is a denial of true existence. It raises that which is not to the level of that which is. Life becomes a living hell. Pascha has come to set us free from all of that.

At the End of all things only the truth will remain. Things that were part of the deceit of this world will have passed away. At the End of things there is Pascha. Everything and everyone will find its meaning there – which is fitting since Pascha was before all things.