Pascha: Trampling Down Death

The celebration of Pascha this year is not as we expected. There’s an added sadness in the story of the Passion and of Christ’s descent into Hades. But I believe there is an even greater hope.

Attempts to mitigate the COVID-19 virus compel churches to limit attendees until further notice. Many faithful are unable to participate in the Divine Liturgy, and unable to receive the Eucharist.

We miss the friendships and the community, and long to be with our fellow Christians. Even our Pascha baskets are affected, with our priest using Facebook to transmit their blessing.

In a normal Paschal season, I stumble. I don’t keep the fast as well as I could. I don’t pray enough, or give enough, or read enough scripture. This year, the isolation brought on by this pandemic has allowed me to falter even more.

Yet on this day, I am reminded that it is Christ that has trampled down death and sin, not my own efforts.

Pascha is for all

On Pascha we hear the homily of St. John Chrysostom, who exorts us to enter into the Paschal feast with joy. Christ has overcome death through His death, and descended into Hades to break its hold on us. It is He that has saved us:

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh.

Even as we shelter in anticipation of returning to our normal lives, we can celebrate the risen Christ who has overcome sin and sickness, evil and death itself. His triumph is our own, and we can truly say:

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

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