Paschal Letter of Father Robert Arida
April 8, 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The mystery we are about to enter, the mystery which is the very foundation of our life has always stood against the currents of secular culture. Within our own social context, Christ’s three day Pascha -- his voluntary death, burial and resurrection – appear in sharp contrast to what has been characterized as either a “death denying culture” or a culture that perceives death as a “natural” stage of human existence. On the one hand the fear of death has spawned an industry that attempts to dull its painful sting. Health, beauty and youth form a triad that defines the very purpose of human life. On the other hand “death” is brought into the philosophical and religious forums which hold up the laws of nature or the immortality of the bodiless soul as the resolves to calming the impending dread of the inevitable. In these forums, death is acknowledged as a “natural” phenomenon that is to be accepted and celebrated as the culmination of one’s life. These and other perceptions of death blur our understanding and distort the fundamental reason of why we embrace and celebrate the Lord’s Pascha.
Christ’s voluntary death, burial and resurrection unveil the reality and therefore the ugliness and horror of death. The cross as sign and word of the death of the God-Man exposes death revealing its brutality, injustice, sorrow and pain.
As bearers of the cross we acknowledge that death can neither be hidden nor rationally explained. Death cannot be ignored or disguised – not even for a moment. Yet, the cross of Jesus also proclaims and affirms life – new life given to us by his selfless death.
Suspended on the cross is the one whose death annihilates death. The Last Enemy is slain by the crucified and resurrected Savior (1 Corinthians 15:26). He who empties himself of all glory enters into the grave – enters into the very realm of death and overthrows its power and dominion. Indeed death is filled with life and the empty tomb leads to paradise renewed.
The bridal chamber is opened and we are now called to enter and rejoice with the Bridegroom.
With love in Christ,