Forty Days of Paschal Joy


What can I tell you? We’ll live another year. Actually, we’re talking about the end of the world. When will it come? When love runs dry. When there’s no love, then life will be meaningless. But as long as people are standing in line for Love [for Holy Communion—Ed.], we have a chance to live, and to live well. Although, of course, there are different moments, but we don’t need to pay much attention to them. When we’re fixated on ourselves, when we build everything for ourselves, nothing works out for us. But when we give our whole lives into God’s hands, then everything is for the best.

You know, there are people who, no matter what happens to them, turn everything to good, and everything works out to their benefit. And there are those for whom, even if something good happens, it’s still something bad. We have to become optimists, and thank God for what we have today. And we have God. “God is with us! Understand all ye nations, and submit yourselves, for God is with us!” Billions of people don’t know God—billions! But you and I have been accounted worthy of the honor of being Orthodox Christians. This calling is above all other callings. It must be cherished and protected; it must be treasured.

Today begins another page in our Church life. The Lenten services end and the Paschal period begins. And I’ll tell you, it’s much more difficult. It’s very hard, to be honest. You might be in pain, you might be very tired, you might have problems that are weighing you down. How can we reach the Paschal joy, the merriment, the life-affirming notes? It’s very difficult, but we have to learn. In any condition, in any situation, this Paschal week is special. The Royal Doors will be open. This means we’re all in the altar; there is no longer any barrier between God and man. Everything is open, all the fullness of love. “Come and eat” (cf. Ecc. 9:7), come and see (Jn. 1:46), come and hear what is happening in church, and partake of this great joy.

Therefore, of course, it’s not an easy task for us. Moreover, we have to thank God and rejoice not just for a week, but all forty days until the Leavetaking of Pascha (more precisely, thirty-nine days, and on the fortieth day—the Ascension). Imagine what a joyful marathon we have, right? Whatever happens, let’s agree that we’ll try to spend these thirty-nine days thanking God and seeing the beauty of God, seeing all the good things in our lives. Let’s ban the bad—we shouldn’t see anything bad. This is, of course, a super task. But with God, it’s possible.

Let’s try to shame this world with its prince; let’s try not to get stuck in situations, in disputes, in human misunderstandings, but to focus on the main thing—we have Pascha. And that’s why when we rise, when we go to sleep, in any situation, what words do we say? “Christ is Risen!

This is an army, truly an army of God! And we fight here, in our heart and in our mind. And we fight with our eyes, so our eyes would be bright and our thoughts pure. So let’s try. You know, the Kingdom of Heaven is joy, it is eternal gratitude, eternal love for God. Perhaps we’ll live more than just one more year, so let’s try to rehearse, so that the joy of God might be with us for thirty-nine days. My soul shall rejoice in the Lord (Ps. 34:10).

Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok
Translation by Jesse Dominick

St. Elisabeth Convent


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