He is Risen!
Today is a day of holy rejoicing for the Orthodox faithful, for we celebrate Pascha, the resurrection of Christ our Lord. I will leave it to the priests to proclaim in some official capacity the glory of this event, and its eternal relevance to us which brings every Orthodox into celebratory communion on this remembrance day.
I do feel compelled however, to share what this day means for me. We must remember that since the Creation, human beings have been trapped within the confines of the fallen world, our entrapment being one of our own volition. In this environment, evil has held sway over us since time immemorial. While great virtue has of course been achieved, its victories have more often than not been fleeting as human passions brought man and empire to ruin, a symbol of our sickness. The greatest civilizations were built in tribute to the beyond, a pale mirror of its glory, as each people have understood it. but never did we construct anything of absolute permanence. Time, that most caustic of substances, brought the greatest kingdoms to their knees, and led some groups to utter extinction.
Man is steeped in hatred, poverty, disease, sexual iniquity, and ignorance, and yet the best of us always try to overcome these things, the world over. We go to war with evil in the name of righteousness, we resist temptations, we protect the vulnerable, we give to those less fortunate than ourselves. Why? What are we trying to prove? That we are something more than just evolved apes?
In 2 Corinthians 4:4, we read:
“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”
It is a chilling thought, that the first insurgent, the deceiver, the angel who fell from heaven and whose powers exceed our own by orders of magnitude, that he is the god of this world, but does that not explain our losing battle? Does it not explain the constant one-sidedness of this battle between good and evil, that we never find pure stability?
At Pascha we remember that God so loved the world, He has given His only begotten Son so that we might be free of satan’s kingship in our lives. That while we are forced to battle him in this life, upon death we will be out of his reach forever, and if he has not claimed our lives through the denial of Christ then our eternity will be spent with the great sustaining force of all reality, with the true God, He who spoke into darkness and created light. God provides us with all the power we need to resist evil, the hope of salvation, the hope of an escape from the endless cycle of victory and defeat, of riches and ruin, of ‘Satya’ and ‘Kali’.
What was the message of the Risen Lord? That God has not abandoned us to the wages of His adversary, a battle we simply could not win with any permanence due to the imbalance of power. At the cross, God has broken the power of the devil whom we could not slay and the binding of the Law which we could not keep. The door to the cell has been opened, and now it is only up to us the choice to walk out into the sun or remain in the darkness.
In a recent exchange discussing the 1981 movie Excalibur, one of the moments from the movie that struck we as rather profound concerned Lancelot, the knight of the round table who burned with lust for Guinevere, wife of King Arthur. The night before he is set to joust for her honor (she is accused of adultery), he has a nightmare in which he does battle with his own empty suit of armor. When he wakes up, he has rolled onto his own sword, skewering himself, and cries out “I fight against myself!” Much of the struggle is to be had with our own failings, which are played upon by malevolent forces.
The world is a battlefield with no end in sight, but in death there can be no change in state, it is win or lose forever. What troubles the Christian is not the final question, for if he affirms Christ, even under the gravest of penalties, he shall have eternal life and never endure the second death, the devil shall never have his murderous way with our souls. But what about the battlefield of the temporal and physical world? How do we best use this life to glorify God and honor all He has done for us? If we revere Him, it then follows that we must do certain things.
We must keep His moral laws, those so intrinsic to His very character, to the best of our abilities, in full recognition of the fact that we will fail. Diligently, the Christian must try to be virtuous in his thoughts and deeds, the most important being what we can impart upon others.
I think about the purpose of this blog, the purpose of the Reactosphere and for those Christians who have sought fit to be explicitly political. What truly motivates us in these trying times? Anger and dispossession of course play a role, but they were never central for me. I think instead we are motivated by a genuine desire to give. We want to give our children and our lineage to come something of value which can only be found in Tradition. Not to fight in some way this age, would be to resign ourselves to giving them nothing but whatever mere worldly possessions we could accrue in our lifetimes. Give your children a bank account and it is as if you have given them a piece of cheese. Give your children a civilization and it is as if you have given them the world.
On this holy day of Pascha, God has given us the keys to a kingdom beyond our wildest imaginations. He has fought and defeated the devil. What might we offer in thanks? As the son imitates the father in a display of his love and admiration, we ought to imitate Christ. We ought to give our children the keys to a kingdom of admittedly milder aspirations than the Kingdom of God, the splendor of Christian civilization. We ought to fight and defeat the devil’s shell game, Liberalism.
Today, as we celebrate the ‘special event’ of Christ’s resurrection, a clean surgical strike by God against the evils of sin and death, we are mindful of the long road ahead of us. I often like to quote His Excellency Metropolitan Kallistos Ware in saying that rather than having ‘been saved’, I am instead in the process of ‘being saved’. In addition, when we are asked ‘have you given?’, our response should be that we ‘are giving’.
We should never forget the joy of what we are proclaiming when we say ‘Christ is risen!’, for what we are really saying is
Christ is Victorious!
(Great article on Pascha from Pravoslavie here)
As mentioned above, I participated in a very enjoyable dialogue about the 1981 film ‘Excalibur’ directed by John Boorman. Joining the organizer Thomas Rowsell, and the founder of Deus Vult International, Craig New Troy, we had a long discussion about the Pagan and Christian themes found in the movie and the legend of the great sword itself. Head over to Youtube and give the video a thumbs up if you enjoy the discussion! Thanks to Thomas for inviting me.