Paschal Letter of Father Robert M. AridaApril 24, 2011
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As a people baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, we are already participants in the mystery of new and eternal life. However, at the same time we are aware that this gift is often neglected and forgotten not because of ingratitude or indifference but because of a lack of belief in what is truly incomprehensible. Not understanding what we are celebrating, not apprehending the reality that the God Man Jesus Christ has taken on our sin and mortality and by his dying and rising raises us into his Kingdom renders our feasting of no consequence.
Our culture, which we have helped to create, perceives what we celebrate as a rhetorical affirmation of life over death, light over darkness and goodness over evil. Indeed, the words associated with our Lord’s death and resurrection are beautiful and moving. Nevertheless, for many, including ourselves, what we affirm often stands in opposition to the fact that war, injustice, sickness, suffering and ultimately death prevail. We announce Christ’s victory over death while death is all around us – death is among us and within us. For many Christians, the Feast of our Savior’s death and resurrection is a wonderful thought only to be veiled by the visible and tangible misery that pervades the globe. As we proclaim Christ is risen there lurks in our hearts the fear that all is passing, all is destined to oblivion.
Entering the mystery of Christ’s saving death and resurrection is an act of courage spurred on by a living faith that affirms and confirms that what cannot be understood and grasped by reason is indeed real and even more real, more tangible than all the burdens, tribulations and sorrows that instill in each of us fear, doubt and uncertainty. In the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection given to us in baptism and revealed to us in the Church’s liturgy, we are brought into and given a glimpse of the new creation more beautiful and more wonderful than Eden. In the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection what is to be fulfilled in the future has now come upon us. Death is truly annihilated and we are no longer its captives. “Now death’s prison is opened, now pardon is proclaimed for the prisoners, now there is recovery of sight to the blind, now those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow are visited by the sunrise from on high.” (St. Gregory of Nyssa, 4th c.)
Now we are called by the Lord himself to draw near in faith and to actively repose in the mystery of his three day Pascha.
With love in Christ,