April 2015 Letter
In few days the Holy Pascha Week will start. Below are some contemplations from the book “The Holy Pascha” about the Pascha praise that is continuously repeated by the church through the Holy Week, replacing the prayers of the psalms from Agpeya:
+ Thine is the Power, whom You have showed by the weakness of the Cross what’s greater than strength. In it You have showed the resurrection and immortality.
+ Thine is the Glory, whom You have rejected the glory of people, and glorified Your Father by the passions of the Cross. So Your Father glorified You by resurrection from death.
+ Thine is the Blessings, whom You have been slain and have redeemed us to God Your Father. Bless the Lord O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases. Who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
+ Thine is the Majesty, who accepted the shame of the Cross while You are in the Bosom of Your Father before all ages. Thine is the Power, the Glory, the Blessings and the Majesty forever.
This praise in itself is a service of thanksgiving, in other words Eucharistic service, a service of glorification or doxology to Emmanuel our God, who is God among us and in our midst, Jesus Christ our good Savior.
It’s a doxology repeated by the Church tirelessly to Christ our God, from the day of His last entry into Jerusalem, until we entrust Him to the tomb, awaiting His resurrection. It’s a doxology seen now by those who were saved by the Blood of Christ, as well as in the age to come.
This is the prayer of the Church in the days of the Holy Pascha night and day, with hearts filled with joy and pleasure. Yes, the heart is full of joy in the week of the life giving passions, because the pains are giving salvation, by which in Christ we have crossed from death to life. So why stay at the borders of grief and pain, while we have obtained by the pains of Christ’s life forever? It’s praise, and praise does not agree with grief.
This is the duality of the Cross, difficult to explain, but only experiencing it is a proof.
For the services schedule during the Holy Week, please refer to the church site: www.smandsm.org.
May the blessings of the Holy Pascha be with us always, Amen.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, April 1, 2015