Post date: May 22, 2014 8:05:35 PM
The Paschal canon, sung at the entrance back into church after the outside Resurrection service is a fount of teaching and theology. As we have come to the Resurrection, we listen to the words that proclaim to us the meaning of the feast and its practical implications for us.
In ode 1, the katavasia gives us the meaning: “Christ our God has out of death passed us over into life;” God’s work is done; heaven is open. The hymn which follows it gives us the practical side: “Let us purify our senses and we then shall see by the unapproachable light of the Resurrection Christ shining vividly, and we shall distinctly hear Him saying, Rejoice, to us as we sing the triumphal hymn.” Partaking in the resurrection requires of us to purify our senses. Indeed, the Lenten preparation is intended to guide us to this joyous partaking of the resurrection through the purification of our sense.
Ode 5 is a veritable treasure. The katavasia says, “Arising at dawn very early, instead of ointment, a hymn let us offer unto the Master, and then we shall clearly see Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, causing true life to arise for all.” We see here the importance of prayer in our relationship with God. By setting the foundation of our day on Christ and mystically accompanying the myrrh-bearers to the tomb, we offer our prayers unto God and open ourselves up to His presence.
The following hymns also offer important insights: “Beholding Your measureless compassion, the souls below that were held by the shackles and bonds of Hades pressing forward hastened to the light with feet exultant, O Christ, applauding the Pascha the never ends.” We see here in poetic form the depiction of the icon of the Resurrection and a foretaste of the kingdom of heaven, “the Pascha that never ends.” The kingdom is encountering the risen Christ.
Finally, the third hymn of the canon directs our response to the gifts we have been given: “With candles and lamps let us go out to be with Christ who emerged from the sepulcher like the Bridegroom; and with festive ranks of Angels let us also celebrate God's holy Pascha that saves us all.” Through the Paschal season, I pray that we can truly rejoice with the angels in the light of the Resurrection, the light of the kingdom, the light of salvation.
With love in Christ,