Category Archives: Pascha

The increase of Pascha.

From our parish bulletin:

From the eve of the Ascension of the Lord (an event which we confess when we recite the Creed) until the following Friday, we sing this hymn:

Thou hast ascended in glory, O Christ our God,
and gladdened Thy Disciples with the promise of the Holy Spirit.
And they were assured by the blessing
that Thou art the Son of God and Redeemer of the world.

The Feast is always on a Thursday—Forty Days after the Resurrection (described in Acts 1). We are such materialists that it’s hard for us to conceive or understand this event. The Ascension is the vindication of the crucified, buried and risen Lord Jesus, the initiation of His reign— inauguration day—over all creation, and His power made present in us.

“Lo, I am with you, even to the end of the ages. Amen,” says the Lord as He ascends—that is, as He comes into His glory and sits upon the Throne at the Right Hand of the Father. He is with us—we are with Him too— because now, the One Who Is God AND man is in Heaven.

As St. Leo the Great, the Pope of Rome (+461) taught: “With all due solemnity we are commemorating that day on which our poor human nature was carried up, in Christ, above all the hosts of Heaven, above all the ranks of angels, beyond the highest Heavenly powers to the very throne of God the Father.”

This is simultaneously our ascension and our glorification, since we are united to Christ through holy Baptism as members of His Body. Therefore, St. Paul can further write: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3) Out of our physical sight, we now “see” the glorified Christ through the eyes of faith.

St. Leo further explains how important this spiritual insight is: “For such is the power of great minds, such the light of truly believing souls, that they put unhesitating faith in what is not seen with the bodily eyes; they fix their desires on what is beyond sight. Such fidelity could never be born in our hearts, nor could anyone be justified by faith, if our salvation lay only in what is visible.”

The Feast of the Ascension is not a decline from the glory of Pascha. It is, rather, the increase of Pascha, and a movement upward toward the Kingdom of Heaven for those who are in Christ. It is the joyful revelation of our destiny in Christ. 

Turtling with rugs and flowers.

As I was ironing some springtime trousers in the morning room, my eye caught the color on the orchid nearby. It’s blooming! Sometime in the last months I’d moved this long-ignored plant into my new space, and started giving it a little water more regularly. The response is heartening.

What I did to the neglected orchid was never conceived as a task to write on a list. It was just one of those many little things that we do, when we are “puttering” about our homes. Small tasks add up to make an increasingly homey space.

Only recently I found these rugs that seemed just perfect for my morning room that I hope will also be a sewing room. One of the reasons they appealed was that the turtle had not long before become an important symbol for me, after I heard a woman about my age speak about the practice of moving forward, no matter how slowly, when one is feeling overwhelmed by decisions and tasks. She said we must “keep turtling.” I had never heard “turtle” used as a verb before, but immediately I began to feel an affinity with those creatures, and to think of them as elegant and wise.

It seems there are other slangy meanings for to turtle, and one of them, “To defensively hide in one’s shell,”  has long been part of my survival toolkit. Ideally, I like to enact both meanings, as on the days when I get to stay home all day and get homey things done.

Bright Monday afternoon I truly lazed about the garden, quite worn out from the festivities and staying up late many nights for Holy Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday services. Then there was Pascha itself, when many of us didn’t get to bed until 4:00 a.m. I was pretty loopy, and really happy about many things, including the sunny day. I think you could say that I turtled, too, because I phoned my sister, and also invited a neighbor over to sit a while. I moved forward in catching up with people I love.

In the picture below of the orange helianthemum, you can see in the distance a box of panettone and a jar of lemon curd. I was having friends for dinner and took those items out of the freezer kind of late, so I was defrosting them in the sun.

As we enter the last day of Bright Week, I wanted to be sure to show you these garden beauties that show their understanding hearts by their uplifted and shining faces.

Bright and never-setting.

Orthodox Christians are in Bright Week, the seven days beginning with the Feasts of Feasts, Holy Pascha (Easter), celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s a week-long afterglow, the first of 40 days during which we greet one another not with “Hi!” but with “Christ is risen!”

This evening I attended Paschal Vespers, where we sang the joyous hymns about Christ, who during his earthly life had announced, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Here is one stanza of a hymn:

We offer Thee our evening worship,
O never setting Light,
Who didst come in these last days to the world in the flesh;
Who even didst descend to hell to dispel its darkness.
Who hast revealed the light of Resurrection to the nations.
Glory to Thee, O Lord and Giver of light!

Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!