Receive the Apostolic Testimony with Mind and Heart

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Christ is Risen!

Dear children and adults, by the grace of Gods we have lived to see the Holy Pascha of Christ, the most significant and joyful days of the entire annual cycle. Nature itself arouses the human spirit to joyous gratitude and glorification of the Creator: The days are becoming brighter and warmer, the sky bluer and purer, and, obeying the Creator’s beckoning, the earth, shackled for many months in winter’s icy embrace, is gradually awakening. Not only the eyes rejoice, but the ears too: the sound of drops, the babble of thawed water, and the lively chirping of emboldened birds, to whom spring brings so much pleasant fuss—everything brings the soul inexplicable pleasure.

But, perhaps, above all that we have described, by the power of the action of grace, is the Paschal Gospel coming from the mouths of Orthodox Christians—Christ is Risen! Listen, listen, friends, to this Divine greeting, although we have heard it and pronounced it ourselves several hundreds of times. Let us receive this apostolic testimony with both our minds and our hearts, and let us hold these all-holy words in our souls with the same reverence and care as with which a poor man would hide in his bosom a precious stone given to him by the grace of a benefactor.

Christ is Risen! These three words were first pronounced by a celestial angel who bore witness before the Myrrh-bearing Women of the unspeakable mystery of the rising from the grave of our Lord Jesus Christ. Like a blinding flash of lightning amidst the nighttime sky, the proclamation of the Resurrection illuminated the souls of the pious women, and then the disciples of Christ, plunged into the hopeless gloom of despondency, languor, and fear. But if ordinary lightning immediately appears and disappears, again giving way to darkness, then the fiery words, “Christ is Risen,” once heard and received by a believing heart, fill man’s soul with such a light, which, in the words of the Apostle James, has no variableness, neither shadow of turning (Jas. 1:17). The soul illumined by the Paschal preaching becomes a lamp that can ignite with faith and love for Christ those souls that were in a prison of ignorance of God before encountering it in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Christ is Risen! Risen is Christ, and therefore, truth and love have triumphed, hitherto trampled underfoot by falsehood, deceit, and human malice! “The Lord is King and hath clothed Himself with majesty (of His Resurrection)!” That means that every good thing done for the sake of Christ, whether it be an act, a word, or even a thought, is truly victorious and immortal! No matter how weak and feeble we may be, no matter how insignificant and imperfect our own efforts to fulfill the commandments of Evangelical love may seem, both we and our works, done in God, will prove to be stronger than all the world’s darkness, all the evil of the world, for Christ is truly Risen! This is why He addresses His disciples and followers with a joyous command: Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (Jn. 16:33).

Christ is Risen! Let us understand that everything that is done by us and with us is done under the sign of eternity, and therefore is of everlasting value. There is nothing random in the world that disappears without a trace. What could be smaller and lighter than a word coming from the lips of men? But it will not sink into oblivion, although even a word long forgotten will appear before you on the day of the General Resurrection and the Dread Judgment. How many faces pass us daily, flashing before us, imprinted on our soul, it seems, only to dissolve a minute later together with the dozens like them in the dark waters of our memory! Let us not be deceived! Everything we see here will be seen there, before the face of the impartial Judge, the Lamb of God risen from the dead. From His fiery throne, the Lord Almighty, Who has overcome death and trampled upon the devil, will carry out His righteous judgment and judge between the widow, the orphan, and their oppressor, the one whose innocence was violated and the violator, the offended and the offender. There will be then tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil… but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good (Rom. 2:9-10).

Believing all that has been said (and it is impossible not to believe it), as said from the Scripture, do not let the birds of prey, the demons of unbelief, invisibly drifting in the air, peck and snatch from our hearts the golden grain of the Gospel message: “Christ is Risen!” Let this precious grain, fallen into the loosened and fertilized soil of our hearts, bring fruit a hundredfold! May the spirit of His Resurrection overshadow all of us who praise the Lord, so that even in this earthly life, filled with eternal life in the bowels of the soul united with Christ, exclaim together with His Prophet: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction (1 Cor. 15:55).

Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov
Translated by Jesse Dominick

Alekseevsky Monastery


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