Christ is Risen
"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God." (Colossians 3:1)
My Beloved Brethren,
Christ is Risen. He is Risen indeed.
On this glorious day, as we commemorate the blessed Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, I would like to extend my hearty wishes to all of you praying to the Risen Lord to grant us His Resurrection and make it real in our life.
The Lord's passionate and Holy Crucifixion followed by His Holy Glorious Resurrection inspires a newness of spirituality within our Coptic Church, our Coptic families, and each Christian individual's heart. It is a time when we truly profess our belief in the pain-rendering events of the Holy Crucifixion and in the Glorious mystery of the awe inspiring Resurrection of the only One raised from the dead and who sits at the right hand of God.
This blessed event poses four major questions to contemplate:
• What is the Holy Resurrection?
• How did the Lord's Resurrection become our Resurrection?
• How do we attain Resurrection?
• How can we maintain the Lord's Resurrection?
What is the Holy Resurrection?
The Lord Jesus Christ is considered the firstborn, the first fruit risen from the dead. The Holy Book of Revelation (1:5) describes our crucified and resurrected Lord as ..."Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead." He was not raised by the prophets like Elijah and Elisha, but rather is and remains, the only person raised from the dead by the power of His Divinity, the Father in Heaven and the Holy Spirit. It is difficult for even the most scholarly to truly fathom the dimensions of the Lord Jesus Christ‘s death on the Holy Cross and His Resurrection and the impact of these insurmountable events on humanity in order that the faithful may experience eternity, the heavenly grandeur of the Father's glory.
Journey Through the Joyous 50 Days
Many regard the period of the Fifty Holy Days to be a time to lax spiritually, especially that it comes after the asceticism of Great Lent, with its daily Divine Liturgies, and Holy Pascha Week, with its long prayers and comforting hymns. What further strengthens this belief in the mind of many is the fact that the Fifty Holy Days is a period that is unique for being devoid of any fasting days, something that is quite unusual in our Coptic Church, which is known for Her many fasts. During this season, there are no prostrations (metanoias). Many also notice during this period that even the Church activities are geared more towards trips, conventions, and celebrations.
Indeed, the period of the Fifty Holy Days is different than the rest of the ecclesiastical calendar. It is unique in that we pray with the festal tune, even in funerals. There is no fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, and private fasts are not allowed. Even if a new priest is ordained during this period, he doesn’t fast the customary 40 days following ordination.
However, the Fifty Holy Days have beautiful spiritual depth, which makes a person not lax spiritually, but rather grow and rejoice spiritually after the asceticism of Great Lent and Holy Pascha Week.
It is a period of rejoicing in the Resurrection of our Lord and our resurrection with Him. It is the time to experience the new life in our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the period in which a person, who has practiced self-control over material things during the 55 days of Great Lent, rises to live joyfully in the spirit and worship God in spirit and truth. If a person plants with effort, toil, and tears during Great Lent, then the Fifty Holy Days is the time of harvest, accompanied by joy and gladness.
While Great Lent represents the struggle of the Israelites in the Wilderness of Sinai, the Fifty Holy Days represent the entry of the Israelites into Canaan, the Promised Land.
As inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Church arranged so that the readings and hymns of the Fifty Holy Days would help us experience the life of joy and victory of the new life in our Lord Jesus Christ. The person, who spiritually lives the prayers, hymns, and readings of this period, will experience spiritual depth and will benefit. For him, the Fifty Holy Days will no longer be regarded as a time to just eat, drink, and lax spiritually, and thus he will not waste all the beautiful spiritual fruits he collected during Great Lent and Holy Pascha Week.
Together, let us meditate on the prayers of the Church, as well as Her hymns, and readings during this blessed period.
Contemplation of the Resurrection: By Father Matthew the Poor
The following Contemplation is taken from the Chapter entitled Resurrection and Redemption in the Orthodox Concept from the book Communion of Love by Father Matthew the Poor:
Great is the Church’s jubilation when it celebrates in the Easter season the resurrection of Christ from the dead, repeating the words "Christos Anesti.” For the Church these words mean that redemption is accomplished and that it has become a right of all sinners to receive with faith the bond of freedom from the captivity of sin and death and to accept the call to eternal life...
Resurrection in the Church’s theology on the concept of the cross—as a voluntary self-sacrifice for the atonement of the sins of all the world—stands both as a foundation and a summit. The mystery of resurrection as a tangible reality of faith was like a heavenly glorious light which, when it entered the hearts of the disciples, transformed all the humiliating and painfull sorrows of the cross into honor, triumph, and glory. Death became redemption, the grave turned from the pit of death into the fountain of life...
When we consider the joyful song of the Church "Christos Anesti,” we realize the reason for this overwhelming joy that annihilated all the sorrows and agonies of the cross, all the pains of sin and death. For if Christ has risen, then our faith is true and we are no longer in our sins. His cross was not an ignominy but a glory. If the body we eat and drink is the body of His crucifixion, it is also the body of His resurrection, and we are partakers in the self-same resurrection and life eternal.
Christ’s resurrection turned the disgrace and curse of the cross into grace, salvation, and glory, and made the broken body and the shed blood not only alive but also life-giving. Moreover, if death was paid as a price for our sins, resurrection increased this price by making it openly and permanently acceptable both in heaven and On earth...