During the last week of April, thousands of faithful came to glorify our Lord’s Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection at Saint Mark. As we look back on the 2019 Holy Week, I offer you this beautiful theological reflection on the Feast of the Resurrection by renowned 20th century theologian Fr. Alexander Schmemann. We pray that the risen Lord may continually shine His Light on our Saint Mark family and the Orthodox faithful everywhere! - Fr. Mark.
This is the starting point for our understanding of the sanctification of time. It is the Orthodox experience, which goes back to the apostles themselves, that in the centre of our liturgical life, in the very centre of that time which we measure as year, we find the Feast of Christ’s Resurrection. What is the Resurrection? Resurrection is the appearance in this world, completely dominated by time and therefore by death, of life that shall have not end. The One who rose again from the dead does not die anymore. In this world of ours, not somewhere else, not in any “other” world, there appeared one morning someone who is beyond death and yet in our time. This meaning of Christ’s Resurrection, this great joy, is the central theme of Christianity; and it has been preserved in its fullness in the liturgy of the Orthodox Church. There is much truth expressed by those who say that the central theme of Orthodoxy, the centre of all its experience, the frame of reference for everything else in her, is the Resurrection of Christ.
"The One who rose again from the dead does not die anymore."
We Orthodox living in the West are in danger of losing this resurrection spirit of Christianity. We are concerned with death much more than with resurrection, and church life sometimes is dominated by the funeral rather than the resurrection type of piety. Yet no one can understand the real structure of the liturgical cycle of the year unless he understands that the center, the day that gives meaning to all days and therefore to all time, is the yearly commemoration of Christ’s Resurrection at Pascha. Pascha is always the end and always the beginning. We are always living after Pascha, and we are always going towards Pascha. The whole spirit and meaning of liturgical life is contained in Pascha, together with the subsequent fifty-day period which culminates in the feast of Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. This unique Paschal celebration is reflected every week in the Christian Sunday, the day which Russians, for example, still call Voskresenie, “Resurrection.” Though it man seem strange to you, it is important to realize that every Sunday is a little Pascha. I say “Little Pascha,” but it is really “Great Pascha.” Every week the Church comes to the same central experience: “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ . . .” Every Saturday night, when the Priest carries the Gospel from the Altar to the center of the Church, after he has read the Gospel of the Resurrection, the same fundamental fact of our Christian Faith is proclaimed: CHRIST IS RISEN! St. Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (I Cor. 15:14). There is nothing else to believe. This is the heart of our Faith; and it is only the reference to Pascha, as the end of all merely natural time and the beginning of the new time, that we can understand the whole liturgical year.