Monday, April 28, 2008

Bright Monday

Christ is Risen!

Here is the Bright Monday Sermon of Archbishop Andrei (Rymarenko, 1893-1978) of Rockland, of blessed memory:
Have you noticed, brothers and sisters, how the Holy Church concluded for us the great time which we call the Lenten Triodion? During the entire Lenten Triodion the Holy Church was waking up our heart, was revealing to us all the states of emotion connected with our heart. We had, as it were, to look at what is within us. And when this was manifested in us, then we approached the Cross and the Book of the Gospels and received the promise which the Lord has given to us: "Receive ye the Holy Spirit," said the Lord to His disciples; ‘Whose so ever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose so ever sins ye retain, they are retained" (Jn. 20:22-23). And trusting in this daring of the Church, we received, in the Sacrament of Confession, forgiveness.

But after receiving the sanctification of our soul, of our heart, we must continue our way. Here is what the Holy Church gives us: after Golgotha, after the carrying out of the Shroud, after that great moment when we heard, or rather, performed the burial of the Savior, the way on which the Holy Church was leading us seems to change. Up to this moment, we were instructed by readings from Holy Scripture, from the writings of the Holy Fathers. The purpose of all this was to make it possible for us to go more deeply within ourselves.

And now begins, as it were, a different method: the Church gives us symbols. Here, during Holy Night we are given a symbol: in a darkened church we hear the angelic singing, telling us about the Resurrection of Christ. And we begin our way. Before us is elevated the Cross. High, before our eyes — the images of the Saints, the Heavenly Queen, who have become our fellow-travelers into heavenly life. We walk around the church, and this path we are walking on is uneven: there are bumps, stones, and sand. At the same time it is dark. We stumble, we walk unevenly, weaving. We’re on the point of falling, and yet we go on. Before us are signs — the Cross and the holy images. At the same time in church, it is beginning to get light, we see it through the windows. And we know we have to enter this Church. But will we enter? Will we not remain in this darkness forever? Will we not fall? Or will we enter just the same?

And here the Holy Church shows us this way. We are walking around the church. And at the same time, what is going on? The choir is singing. With the angels we are singing and glorifying our Creator. So the Holy Church represents in symbols the way we must go through this year. Maybe the Lord will take us, or maybe once more we will visibly enter the church where the Resurrected Christ will be glorified; and the Grace of Resurrection will enter into communion with our soul.

So yesterday should have gone by under the impression of this symbol. At the end of this day the Church gives us a bright, festive service, where in the Gospel reading, the gift of the Resurrected Lord is given to us. "Peace be unto you" (Lk. 24:36). And we should keep this peace. With this feeling we should have performed today’s first festal Liturgy in daylight. Now it is pointed out to us what we still have to do. And this is what. Back there we were walking in night; we did not see what was around us. But now we are already in the Lord. Peace has rested in our heart. And now we will also walk with the sign of the Cross, with the sign of the Saints; but now we will walk in the light of the sun which, in a spiritual sense, is the result of the Lord’s plan of salvation for us. The Lord has shown us His light and Resurrection. Now we too must walk, but not silently; everywhere we are glorifying the Risen Lord. The Gospel itself orders us: Go and preach to all the nations (Mt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15; Lk. 24:47). Listen, brothers and sisters, to all the nations. About what? — that Christ is risen!

Therefore, do not think that what we are now performing is something of the past. No. It is necessary for our Christian psychology. The purpose is so that yesterday and today will be deeply inscribed on our heart, on our whole life, and will determine all the remaining moments of our life. Because now, not symbolically, but in our experience it will be necessary for us to meet each other, to decide different questions, family and social. At such moments we must remember that, of course, there will be bumps; there will be sand and stones. But all this will not be tragic if we only look upon the Cross of the Lord and the Risen Christ, Who gives us the light of understanding that our life is not here; but that there is eternal life and eternal existence.

May the Lord help us to feel and experience this!
Truly He is Risen!

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