Pentecost and the Liturgy of Hades

Pascha (Easter) comes with a great note of joy in the Christian world. Christ is risen from the dead and our hearts rejoice. That joy begins to wane as the days pass. Our lives settle back down to the mundane tasks at hand. After 40 days, the Church marks the Feast of the Ascension, often attended by only a handful of the faithful (Rome has more-or-less moved the Ascension to a Sunday…

The Vindication of the Mother of God

At Christmas time, the Virgin Mary gets a bit of attention in the wider culture. A woman gives birth in difficult circumstances: Mother, baby, ox and ass, the manger. It’s a very touching scene. She quickly fades from the scene however, with some five centuries of culture desperately afraid that she will get too much attention. In that vein, she is pretty much absent from Easter. We have eggs, chocolate, bunny rabbits,…

St. Melito and Pascha – Hell Is Not the Last Word

Among the most powerful meditations on Pascha are the writings of Melito of Sardis (ca. 190 AD). His homily, On Pascha, is both a work of genius as poetry and a powerful work of theology. Its subject is the Lord’s Pascha – particularly as an interpretation of the Old Testament. It is a common example of early Church thought on Scripture and the Lord’s Pascha. I offer a short verse, a meditation…

The Last Pascha – A Reverie

(Written in 2015) I had a reverie around the time of Pascha. My life has had many chapters. I have loved friends and lost friends. My memory is filled with much that is bittersweet – not my favorite flavor. But my reverie was a dream of Pascha – the Last Pascha. I wrote this in a Facebook post and have looked it up numerous times for balm for my tired soul. Today,…

Good Friday and Unbelief

  Christmas and Easter are often difficult days for those who do not believe in God. Christians are more public about their faith than at other times of the year and this brings with it an annoyance. Christmas bespeaks the birth of God as a human being. Easter bespeaks a resurrection from the dead. For those who do not believe, such miracles, spoken of so glowingly and with such assurance by Christians,…

The Mystery of Holy Week

Among the more pernicious ideas that inhabit our contemporary world is the notion that we are all isolated, independent, and alone. Even when we gather, we think of ourselves as but one among many. Among the most glaring exceptions to this form of thought, however, are sporting events. People attend a football game and declare when it is finished, “We won!” or “We lost!” We feel genuine joy at the first and…

Lazarus Saturday

Largely ignored by much of Christendom, the Orthodox mark the day before Palm Sunday as “Lazarus Saturday” in something of a prequel to the following weekend’s Pascha. It is, indeed a little Pascha just before the greater one. And this, of course, was arranged by Christ Himself, who raised His friend Lazarus from the dead as something of a last action before entering Jerusalem and beginning His slow ascent to Golgotha through…

When Death Dies

Christianity is not reconciliation with death. It is the revelation of death, and it reveals death because it is the revelation of Life. Christ is this Life. And only if Christ is Life is death what Christianity proclaims it to be, namely the enemy to be destroyed, and not a “mystery” to be explained. Religion and secularism, by explaining death, give it a “status,” a rationale, make it “normal.” Only Christianity proclaims…

Riding the Tsunami

There are periods of history that fascinate me, particularly if their events can be felt in our present world. My method of study is to read multiple works with a focus on detailed accounts and only a minor amount of analysis. The past couple of years, my attention has been drawn to periods of plagues and pandemics (surprise). It is undoubtedly the case that these have been turning points in human history.…

A Terrible Knowledge

Greek Mythology made the curiosity of Pandora the primary cause of suffering in the world. She fails to resist the lure of finding out what is in a box she is told to leave closed. Opening the box, she unleashes sorrow and suffering into the world. We humans are a curious lot. We want to know everything about our business and much about what is not our business. In a world that…