How to keep Paschal joy? Advice from New Martyrs
I am a man in whose veins eternity flows. I am like this because “Christ is Risen.” These words breathe joy and eternity. Here is the name of God and the life of mankind.
During Paschal days, we feel the energy of the resurrection – “the death of death and the destruction of hell.” We received healing from the tomb of Christ, like from an operating room. An experienced Surgeon has carved death from the nature of humanity. The fresh water of life has become an expensive wine, the tasteless tea is soaked with the sweetness of the sugar of the Resurrection.
Resurrection is established in the law of the Universe!
And there is no longer a person on earth who will not rise from the dead – for joy or condemnation. And here Christians are faced with a task of how to live so that Pascha would be for us into eternal life before the Throne of the Glory of God? After fasting, the flesh begins to take its toll again. What should we do next so that the spirit triumphs?
The Holy Martyr Thaddeus (Uspensky) remarks, “Were you introduced into the joy of the resurrection, so that on holy days you could surrender to mostly carnal, sometimes very gross pleasures? Yesterday you sang together with the Holy Church: “Let all mortal flesh keep silent, and stand with fear and trembling, and in itself consider nothing earthly”, is it really time to indulge the flesh and be silent in the spirit, to think only about earthly things?”
Following this thought of the saint, we see that it is necessary to continue to live in the spirit, even when the fast is over. Pascha is a pure continuation of spiritual work. We rose with Christ to live with God – we were “crucified” with Christ yesterday, so that today He would glorify us in His Kingdom. The thought of the saint is at the empty tomb of Christ with the memory of the co-crucifixion with Him. If you were crucified with Christ during lent, “your spirit will not be able to hold back spiritual raptures, just as the grave could not hold Christ.”
If you preserve the spiritual life acquired in fasting, you can receive joy of such strength that it can cover many weaknesses of your faith. Pascha is an opportunity to stop being ashamed of your faith forever. We are singing these days: “We know none but You, and after Your name we are called”! The greeting “Christ is Risen!” becomes the beginning of our preaching.
A new martyr, a saint, advized people to remember the holy myrrh-bearing women and first Christians during Paschal days, who were fearless, devoted to Christ, and who did not hesitate to reveal their love for the Crucified and Risen Teacher before anyone. This becomes a reproach for modern Christians of the “weekends”: “People are not afraid of showing their love for one another, for those who have sins and passions, in front of everyone (on the streets), even if this love is impure and passionate, they are ready to call it holy and do so, but they are ashamed of showing love for Christ. Does this not mean that they loved people more than God, that “they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God”, that they do not accept Christ sincerely, and “if another shall come in his own name, him they will receive”? (John 12:43 , 5:43)”
Sadly, Paschal joy leaves our hearts quickly, because spiritual feats are replaced by bodily pleasure. Spiritual food is replaced by overeating, praising the Lord – by idle talk, and worship – by pleasure-seeking.
In general, the joy of the Resurrection is the dividing line between faith and unbelief.
The Holy Martyr Onufrius (Gagalyuk) notes that the future life is being prepared today and during Paschal days it is especially clear what will await us after death: joy and happiness or anguish and despondency. “Believers experience joy and peace, a special spiritual sweetness during the days of Holy Pascha. For nonbelievers, this is an ordinary week of the year, one of many weeks. They are gloomy and their soul is empty, while believers are filled with spiritual joy. Yes, real earthly life is the anticipation of eternal life. It is here that our mood is developed, begins, as we will live forever. And the guarantee of eternal joy is our mood, which we experience during Bright week… Only here on earth we perceive everything vaguely, faintly, but then in all clarity (1 Cor. 13:12)”.
How to preserve Pascha within yourself? How to maintain and extend spiritual joy?
First, try to be with the Church, listen to her – after all, she glorifies the Risen One until the Ascension. Here is simple advice from the Holy Martyr Thaddeus: try to listen to and sing the hymns of Pascha more often: “Let us again open the doors to our ears, so that the words of church hymns, filled with spiritual triumph, may enter into them! When these words reach the inner doors to our hearts, we will hear again in our souls the voice of Christ, entering to sup with us (Rev. 3:20) and taking out the remnants of our spiritual life, rotten from passions, from our graves, that is, our hearts that are chained with love for the sin (Ezek. 37: 11-14)”.
Such an attitude can return us to spiritual feelings, give us strength to resist the flesh, “Our spiritual enemies will disappear like smoke, and we will experience empirically the power of the words that we so often hear these days: “May God arise, may His enemies be scattered!”. The Night of the Resurrection of Christ Will Return.
After all, we need Christ more than air, because His tomb is empty! Without Jesus there is no victory over death, without Him hell will take over the soul and we will return to our graves. The Holy Martyr John Vostorgov said: “Death and decay did not restrain the Ruler of life, and hell met in Him the Destroyer of hell.”
The disciples greeted the Risen One in different ways: some doubted, some were horrified, thinking that they were seeing a ghost, and for some it was enough to see the empty veils in the tomb to believe.
From the experience of communicating with people who come to consecrate their offerings on Pascha, we see that many people still do not believe and doubt the Resurrection of Christ. The Holy Martyr Luke of Crimea, a surgeon and archbishop, urged us to undoubtedly believe in the Resurrection: “It is crazy to doubt the truthfulness of the Resurrection of Christ, for if we do not believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has risen and all of us will be resurrected, then we reject all of His teachings, all His works, all that He has revealed to the world. His preaching was a sermon about eternal life in the kingdom of God, an indication of the way to salvation. How can you not believe that Christ is risen? Does anyone really dare to think that the Most Holy and the Greatest Wonderworker and Teacher, Whom the world has ever seen, who stood immeasurably higher than other teachers, in Whom, according to the Apostle, there was no sin (see 1 Pet. 2:22), could the Son of God be swallowed up in dark death forever? If He had not been resurrected, then faith in holy love and eternal truth would have died in our souls. Anyone who rejects the miracle of Christ’s Resurrection falls low in moral dignity, because he does not believe in unconditional good, in holy truth.”
Belief in the Resurrection expands our consciousness, we look at life deeper. Imagine everything we do has an echo in eternity. Christianity makes a person more serious and bold. Tearfulness is not characteristic of our faith. It wipes away our tears.
The Holy Martyr Anatoly Zhurakovsky remarked about this: “The Christian worldview … claims that this whole world is only an image of another world, that it is only a small corner of infinity … Everything visible is only an image, only a shadow of true being.” He who affirms the inviolability of the material world is similar to a person who did not leave the boundaries of his small town, who did not see the railway, ocean and mountains. This narrow world cannot contain the universe. Orthodoxy calls us to the universal scale, to the scale of the spirit, and not only the corruptible flesh.
Holy Martyr Onufrius (Gagalyuk), in one short Paschal sermon, shared our laments that Pascha passed so quickly, but at the same time he consoled: “The time will come, my beloved, when joy will be constant, when Bright week will continue forever: this is in the future life. There will be eternal Pascha, and there will be no end to it. There will be eternal joy, according to the prophetic word: “The ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10).”
The dough of humanity received the leaven of death from Adam and everything turned sour for decay. From Christ the dough of humanity became the leaven of resurrection and eternal life. Let us cleanse the old in order to preserve the new according to the word of the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 5, 7). Let us conclude with the words of the New Martyr Onufrius of Odessa and Kharkov: “Your further life depends on you, my beloved: if you want an eternal joyful life with God, eternal Pascha, – believe in God and fulfill His holy commandments, as the Orthodox Church teaches you. If you do not believe in God and live in a pagan way – there will be eternal sorrow and darkness for you.”
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