Day 35.5/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – Clothe our minds with pure garments – St. Athanasius the Apostolic

Now, however, that the devil, that tyrant against the whole world, is slain, we do not approach a temporal feast, my beloved, but an eternal and heavenly. Not in shadows do we shew it forth, but we come to it in truth. For they being filled with the flesh of a dumb lamb, accomplished the feast, and having anointed their door-posts with the blood, implored aid against the destroyer. But now we, eating of the Word of the Father, and having the lintels of our hearts sealed with the blood of the New Testament (Mat 26:28), acknowledge the grace given us from the Saviour, who said, ‘Behold, I have given unto you to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy’ (Luke 10:19). For no more does death reign; but instead of death henceforth is life, since our Lord said, ‘I am the life’ (Jn 14:6). so that everything is filled with joy and gladness; as it is written, ‘The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice.’ For when death reigned, ‘sitting down by the rivers of Babylon, we wept’ (Ps 97:1, 137:1), and mourned, because we felt the bitterness of captivity; but now that death and the kingdom of the devil is abolished, everything is entirely filled with joy and gladness. And God is no longer known only in Judæa, but in all the earth, ‘their voice hath gone forth, and the knowledge of Him hath filled all the earth’ (Ps 26:1, 19:4).

What follows, my beloved, is obvious; that we should approach such a feast, not with filthy raiment, but having clothed our minds with pure garments. For we need in this to put on our Lord Jesus (cf Rom 13:14), that we may be able to celebrate the feast with Him. Now we are clothed with Him when we love virtue, and are enemies to wickedness, when we exercise ourselves in temperance and mortify lasciviousness, when we love righteousness before iniquity, when we honour sufficiency, and have strength of mind, when we do not forget the poor, but open our doors to all men, when we assist humble-mindedness, but hate pride.

[St. Athanasius of Alexandria, Festal Letter IV, 332 AD]

Day 34/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – In His life He might show our new life – St. Augustine

adam_reation_iconic emailThe Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the new life of believers in Jesus; and this is the mystery of His Passion and Resurrection, which you ought well to know and to carry out in act. For not without a cause did Life come to death. Not without a cause did the Fountain of life, whence we drink in order that we may live, drink His cup which He was not bound to drink. For death was not Christ’s due portion. As to the question whence death has come, let us look to our origin. Sin is death’s parent. Had there been no sin, no one would have died. The first man received God’s law, that is, God’s commandment, on condition, that if he kept it he should live, if he violated it he should die. By not believing that he would die, he did what caused him to die; and found that to have been true which the Giver of the law had affirmed. Thence came death, thence man became mortal, thence came labour, thence misery, thence the second death after the first, that is, after temporal death, death everlasting. This tradition of death, this law of destruction, binds every man who is born, except that one Man who became Man that man should not perish.

For He came bound by no law of death; therefore He is called in the Psalm, “Free among the dead;” whom in all purity a Virgin conceived; whom she as a Virgin bore, and remained a Virgin; who lived without sin, who did not die because of sin; sharing in our penalty, not in our offence. Death is the penalty of offence; our Lord Jesus Christ came to die, did not come to sin; by sharing in our penalty without our offence, He annulled both our offence and penalty. What penalty? That which was due to us after this life. So He was crucified, that on the Cross He might show the dying-out of our old man; and He rose, that in His own life He might show our new life.

[St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermon CCXXXI] 

Day 33/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – Fear of His Judgement – St. Cyril of Alexandria

“Verily verily I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the Voice of the Son of God; the hour again that is, when they that hear shall live.” (John 5:25)

“By the words then in the beginning, He means the time of the resurrection, wherein He teaches through the word of the Judge that they that sleep shall rise again to answer for their life in the world, that as I said before, devising the fear thence arising as a bridle, He might persuade them to live full excellently and wisely: by the closing words He shews that the due time of believing is now come, but also says that everlasting life will be the reward of obedience: all but declaring, Ye shall all come to judgement, sirs, that is at the time of the Resurrection, but if it seem bitter to you to be punished, and to undergo endless penalties at the hand of the offended Judge, suffer not the time of obedience to pass by, but laying hold of it while yet present, haste ye to attain to everlasting life.”

[St. Cyril the Pillar of Faith, Commentary on the Gospel of St. John] 

Day 32/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – Ⲧⲉⲛⲛⲁⲩ Ⲉ̀Ⲧ̀̀ⲁ̀ⲛⲁⲥⲧⲁⲥⲏⲥ – The Hymn of the Resurrection – Coptic Orthodox Hymns

 

+ We look at the Resurrection of Christ and we worship the holy Jesus Christ our Lord, who alone is without sin. We bow down to Your Cross O Christ, and we praise and glorify Your Resurrection. For You are our God, and we know none but You, and after Your name we are called. Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

+ Come all you believers let us bow down to the Resurrection of Christ. For behold through His Cross, joy has entered into the whole world. Let us bless the Lord continually, and glorify His Resurrection. For He was patient and destroyed death by His Death. Now and forever and unto the age of all ages, Amen.

+ All joy befits you O Theotokos. For through you Adam returned to Paradise. And Eve gained grace to replace her sadness. Through you she gained freedom once more, as well as eternal salvation. And we too let us glorify you, as a treasure of the Resurrection. “Hail to the sealed treasure through which we were given life. Hail to her who gave birth to Christ our God, who gave us life through His Resurrection.” Blessed are You O Lord, teach me Your justice.

+ The angelic hosts were amazed when they saw You counted among the dead. Yet You destroyed the power of death O Savior. You raised Adam with You and freed him from Hades. Blessed are You O Lord, teach me Your justice.

+ Why did you mix fragrant oil weeping and mourning with each other, O followers of the Lord? The luminous angel said to the women carrying the spices, “Look and be aware that the Savior has risen from the dead.” Blessed are You O Lord, teach me Your justice.

+ The women rushed very early to Your tomb, carrying fragrant oil while crying. But the angel stood before them saying, “The time of weeping is over, do not weep, but preach the Resurrection to the Apostles.” Blessed are You O Lord, teach me Your justice.

+ The women came to Your tomb carrying fragrant oil and incense O Savior. They heard the angel say to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead.” And He being God has risen from the tomb. Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

+ We worship the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, one in essence. And we proclaim with the Cherubim saying, “Holy, holy, holy are You O Lord.” Now and forever and unto the age of all ages, Amen. [Three Times]

+ You gave birth O Virgin to the Giver of life, and you saved Adam from sin. You gave joy to Eve instead of sorrow, and gave us life and salvation from corruption and alteration. You became our intercessor before God our Savior, who was incarnate of you.

http://tasbeha.org/hymn_library/view/104?mid=10790

(Hymn prayed by Cantor Ibrahim Ayad)

[Tennav, Hymn for the Resurrection, Midnight Praises, Coptic Orthodox Church]

Day 31/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – Let’s hope in His promise of resurrection – St. Clement of Rome

Consider, beloved, how the Lord keeps reminding us of the resurrection that is to come, of which he has made the Lord Jesus Christ the first fruits by raising him from the dead.

Let us look, beloved, at the resurrection that occurs at its appointed time. Day and night show us a resurrection; the night lies in sleep, day rises again; the day departs, night takes its place. Let us think about the harvest; how does the sowing take place, and in what manner? The sower goes out and casts each seed onto the ground. Dry and bare, they fall into the earth and decay. Then the greatness of the Lord’s providence raises them up again from decay, and out of one many are produced and yield fruit.

In this hope, then, let our hearts be bound fast to him who is faithful in his promises and just in his judgments. He forbade us to tell lies; still less will he himself tell a lie. Nothing is impossible for God except to tell a lie. Then let our faith in him be awakened; let us reflect that everything is close to him.

By the word of his power he established all things, and by his word he can reduce them to ruin. Who shall say to him: What have you done? Who shall stand up against the power of his might? He will accomplish everything when he wills and as he wills, and nothing that he has decreed shall pass away. All things stand in his presence, and nothing lies hidden from his counsel, if the heavens tell forth the glory of God, the firmament reveals the work of his hands, day speaks to day, and night shares knowledge with night; there are no words, no speeches, and their voices are not heard.

Since all things lie open to his eyes and ears, let us hold him in awe and rid ourselves of impure desires to do works of evil, so that we may be protected by his mercy from the judgement that is to come. Which of us can escape his mighty hand? What world will give asylum to one who deserts him? Where will I go, where will I hide from your face? If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go to the limits of the earth, your right hand is there; if I lie down in the deep, your spirit is there. Where, then, can one go, where can one escape to, from the presence of him whose hands embrace the universe?

Let us then approach him in holiness of soul, raising up to him hands pure and undefiled, out of love for our good and merciful Father who made us a chosen portion for himself.

[St. Clement of Rome, First Letter to the Corinthians] 

Day 30/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – The living word enables our resurrection – Fr. Matthew the Poor

St. John the Apostle writes:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life – the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us– that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (1 Jn 1:1-4)

Today is the day of the resurrection. I tell you that this fellowship to which St. John calls us, with the apostles, the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ that completed our joy, is the very same fellowship experienced by the apostles on the day that the resurrected Lord was revealed to them, and they “did not believe it because of joy and amazement” (Lk 24:36-41). This is the same resurrection and is the same as that which St. Peter calls our new birth:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet 1:3-4).

St. Peter also offers us a transfer from the rebirth through the resurrection on a personal level to a re-birth. This takes place through the Word, “God’s living word,” because he considered it autonomous, alive with the power of eternal life, able to give life to whoever lives by it: “You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet 1:23).

It is amazing that both St. Peter and St. John both considered the living word to be “the seed of God.” It was the seed of eternal life if it inhabited the heart, due to its ability to offer eternal life. It offers the resurrection, in its divine nature that does not sin and cannot sin: “No one born of God commits sin; for God’s nature abides in him, and he cannot sin for he is born of God” (1 Jn 3:9).

For that reason, he who is born of God lives in the resurrection in that he has overcome sinand death. Paul the Apostle therefore says to those who sin after having received the life of the resurrection: “We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom 6:6). “Let no sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey your passions” (Rom 6:12).

It is as if the man who obeys sin is trying to make sin once more take hold of his body that was crucified with Christ.”

[Fr. Matta El-Meskeen, Christ is Risen Truly He has Risen]

 

Day 29.5/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – Body and soul will rise again – St. Justin Martyr

 

But, in truth, He has even called the flesh to the resurrection, and promises to it everlasting life. For where He promises to save man, there He gives the promise to the flesh. For what is man but the reasonable animal composed of body and soul? Is the soul by itself man? No; but the soul of man. Would the body be called man? No, but it is called the body of man. If, then, neither of these is by itself man, but that which is made up of the two together is called man, and God has called man to life and resurrection, He has called not a part, but the whole, which is the soul and the body. Since would it not be unquestionably absurd, if, while these two are in the same being and according to the same law, the one were saved and the other not? And if it be not impossible, as has already been proved, that the flesh be regenerated, what is the distinction on the ground of which the soul is saved and the body not? Do they make God a grudging God?

But He is good, and will have all to be saved. And by God and His proclamation, not only has your soul heard and believed on Jesus Christ, and with it the flesh, but both were washed, and both wrought righteousness. They make God, then ungrateful and unjust, if, while both believe in Him, He desires to save one and not the other. Well, they say, but the soul is incorruptible, being a part of God and inspired by Him, and therefore He desires to save what is peculiarly His own and akin to Himself; but the flesh is corruptible, and not from Him, as the soul is. Then what thanks are due to Him, and what manifestation of His power and goodness is it, if He purposed to save what is by nature saved and exists as a part of Himself? For it had its salvation from itself; so that in saving the soul, God does no great thing. For to be saved is its natural destiny, because it is a part of Himself, being His inspiration. But no thanks are due to one who saves what is his own; for this is to save himself. For he who saves a part himself, saves himself by his own means, lest he become defective in that part; and this is not the act of a good man. For not even when a man does good to his children and offspring, does one call him a good man; for even the most savage of the wild beasts do so, and indeed willingly endure death, if need be, for the sake of their cubs.

But if a man were to perform the same acts in behalf of his slaves, that man would justly be called good. Wherefore the Saviour also taught us to love our enemies, since, says He, what thank have you? So that He has shown us that it is a good work not only to love those that are begotten of Him, but also those that are without. And what He enjoins upon us, He Himself first of all does.

[St. Justin Martyr, On the Resurrection]