April 2009

Fr. Antony Portrait

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ

Christ is risen!

How wonderful to be able to greet you with the joyous Paschal Greeting!  Once again we were blessed to journey together through Great Lent and Holy Week to the Empty Tomb of the Savior.  Now we enter the Paschal Season in which there is usually some let down, perhaps even a little confusion.  What do we do now?  Where do we go from here?  After Pascha things "return to normal" and we sometimes feel that we are left holding the bag.

Although we have a break from fasting for a while, from extra services and the like, the time has come to practice in the light we have received.  One might hope that magically Pascha would change us "overnight" into powerhouse saints, but the truth is that Pascha merely opens a door for us.  It is a door we are called to walk through not once, but daily.  Enlightenment comes one moment at a time not once and for all.  Salvation is never in the past, but always in the present. 

So, the answer is to practice what we have learned.  The love Christ has shown us we are now obligated to share with one another in the light of what we have just experienced.   Celebration does not mean that we put down the tools of our spiritual trade.  The work does not decrease, it increases.  Meister Eckhart wrote that "the outer work will never be puny if the inner work is great."  If our "outer work" fades after Pascha, I suggest that probably we have failed to continue our "inner work."

And what is that work?  The labors of love and compassion towards all.  Hear again these words from St. Isaac of Ninevah:

"One who has found love feeds on Christ every day and at every hour and he becomes immortal thereby.  For Jesus said, 'Whoever eats this bread that I shall give him shall never see death' (cf. John 6:58).  Blessed is he who eats the bread of love that is Jesus.  For whoever feeds on love, feeds on Christ ... as John bears witness saying, 'God is love' (I John 4:8).  Therefore one who lives in love receives from God the fruit of life.  He breathes, even in this world, the air of resurrection ... Love is the Kingdom ... Such is the 'wine to gladden the heart of man' (Psalm 104:15).  Blessed is he who drinks of this wine ... the sick have drunk of it and become wise.

So, let's not fall into the trap of believing that all is finished.  Really, the work has only begun.

In the Light of the Resurrection,

Fr. Antony