This joyful exclamation fills the whole world. It fills and renews it, for Christ the Lord has conquered all the powers of evil - henceforth the "new creation" reigns. The depths of hell are destroyed. The earth, hitherto a vale of tears, has become heaven. Heaven has become accessible to mankind. All of creation has been changed, everything has been made new. The Lifegiver, Christ, Himself has united heaven and earth and the regions under the earth. "Now are all things filled with light, heaven and earth and the nether regions: let all creation celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, whereby it is strengthened" (Paschal canon, song 3). Willingly He became man, willingly He endured spitting and beating and buffeting and death. Of His own will He rose again, in order to raise up the whole human race with Himself.
"Now are all things filled with light, heaven and earth and the nether regions." But is man filled with this light - man, for whose sake the God-man Christ accomplished these saving deeds, uniting us all in His Body, which is at once both Divine and human, and illumining us with His unwaning light?
The Lord Himself accomplished this saving act of His own will, and He awaits our willing acceptance of this light. Do we participate in the unspeakable sufferings of the Saviour, or do we fulfill in ourselves the words of the Prohet, who foresaw a terrible indifference to the sufferings of the Redeemer: The just man has perished and no one lays it to heart (Isiah 57:1)? Do we not expect a cheap resolution of our disastrous spiritual state, thinking that in the Paschal night we will suddenly be able t join in the universal rejoicing? Let us not forget that we must endure the suffering and beating and buffeting and the cross and death before our hearts will be capable of being filled with real joy. Without this we can participate in the outward, bodily celebrations, but our hearts will not receive the Righteous One or the gift of resurrection sent down by Him. The Holy Prophet Isiah foresaw the human vanities which would prevent man from participating with his heart in anything diving? For they drink wine with harp, and psaltry, and drums and pies: but they regard not the works of the Lord, and consider not the works of His hands (Is. 5:12). Is this not how we behave, finding time for all kinds of earthly vanities, but finding no time free for the works of God? This is why the Lord dwelt among us only for a short time, calling to us, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? (Matt. 17:17). Evil could not endure the presence of the Only Good One. The world in which evil reigns did not receive Him, and so His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).
But He also said, The kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21). It truly is within us if we receive Him with our hearts. The Resurrection of Christ is also our resurrection, if we receive His suffering and death on the Cross in our hearts. Just as medicine remains ineffectual if it remains in the bottle, but heals only when it is introduced into the organism, so also the Resurrection is not effectual for us as long as we receive only the outward rejoicing, but do not admit spiritual joy to our hearts, not having previously received the whole of Christ - His divine words, His commandments, His sufferings and death. To receive His death means willingly to take upon oneself death to this world.
Such a death is a life-creating death, leading us into eternal life. It is accomplished in our hearts, which are brought to life by it for Christ. The human heart awakens from spiritual sleep through our efforts in prayer, which can grow and be nourished only in the Church of Christ. Prayer opens our hearts to receive the whole of Christ, in Whom is Life, and the life is the light of men (John 1:4), and Who is Himself the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25).
Arise, O sleeping Christian race!...Take up the intense effort, or podvig of prayer. The light of Christ's Resurrection can shine forth...only when it has first illumined our own hearts. Let us then ourselves become participants in the Resurrection of Christ, with our whole heart and soul, so that truly the whole world might rejoice with us.
It is the day of Resurrection, let us be radiant O ye people.
Pascha, the Pascha of the Lord.
From death to life and from earth to Heaven
Christ our God has led us, singing the song of victory.
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