Pascha is only a few days away, but it feels very strange celebrating Holy Pascha away from our churches and communities. However, these challenging times allow us the opportunity to reflect on our many blessings as Orthodox Christians. We’d like to share a few words by Father Theodore Petrides on hope, gratitude, and looking to Christ during these times.
He Loves Us: A Message of Hope
by Fr. Theodore Petrides
The Lord gave us hope in raising Lazarus, four days dead. The Lord gave us reason to celebrate in His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The Lord gave us boldness in His rebuking of the corrupt religious leaders of that time. The Lord gives us a warning that there is a judgment and only those who are watchful will be ready when it comes. The Lord gives us to mystically partake of His Passover by instituting the Divine Liturgy.
He offers Himself as a spotless lamb for the remission of all our sins.
The Lord shows us a more excellent way by washing His disciple's feet, teaching us through His words and actions to serve others rather than to be served. He inspires us to be vigilant as He prays while sweating blood before His arrest and chides His disciples, "Watch and pray that you do not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
The Lord suffers imprisonment to set us free.
He bears the shame in order to sanctify the shame we feel in confessing our sins. He gives us faith that our sins can be forgiven by asking His Father to forgive those who crucified Him saying that they did not know what they had done. He endures buffeting, spitting, whipping, mocking, the crown of thorns, insults, lies, injustice, contempt, the way of sorrows, carrying His Cross, The Crucifixion, the sponge with vinegar, blasphemy, and finally the spear to show us how much He, with His Father and the Spirit, loves us.
He died so that we may live.
Let us respond appropriately. Let us stop just living to die one day and start dying every day through imitation of His self-emptying sacrifice so that we may live abundantly in His Presence, now and forever.
We have so much for which to be grateful.
My list of ten blessings from this pandemic:
- I have been pushed to find ways to minister to others that I was avoiding before, not believing I could.
I have discovered just how gifted members of our parish are in communicating, organizing, and showing compassion
I am making more time to read and pray (and read and pray together with my wife and daughter).
More people are "attending" services remotely than ever before since we started live-streaming them from our new Facebook page.
More parishioners are making the time to pray in their homes than before.
Parents and children are spending more quality time together.
The physical atmosphere around the globe has significantly improved.
We are all, to one degree or another, finding a renewed appreciation for what we had before this pandemic reached our land.
We are finding a renewed appreciation for the little things and blessings we still have.
We are, as mankind, humbled by this pandemic.
We can endure all these things we are now facing. We just have to follow His lead.
Rev. Theodore Petrides, Proistamenos
Father Theodore is the Proistamenos of St. Constantine and Helen parish in Reading, Pennsylvania. We encourage you to check out Father's podcast 'Signs in Our Times' on Ancient Faith Radio.