The Gifts of Great & Holy Pascha
Pascha is quickly approaching and so is the moment when we hear the words chanted every Anastasi Service; “Come Receive the Light” We will light our candles which symbolizes the Light of Christ and sing Christos Anesti to celebrate His victory over death. To many peoples’ surprise, this moment happens just before we begin the Divine Liturgy, where we will receive once again. This time we receive Holy Communion. All our preparation during lent should be followed by the action of taking Holy Communion that night. Yes, we are all tired and have the urge to go back to our cars with our lit candle instead of going back into the Church for the Paschal Liturgy. We need to remind ourselves that Christ offers us His body and blood that night as His gift to us.
The Sacrament of Holy Communion (the Eucharist) which literally means "Thanksgiving," is the Mystery whereby the bread and wine offering is changed, actually, not symbolically, into the very Body and Blood of Christ. The Eucharist is at the very center of the Church's life, and from it flows the prayer of believers in a sacrifice of entreaty for the peace of the world, for those who ask for help, and for all men and women '"The Eucharist unites us; it nourishes our soul and body, and strengthens our spiritual life. According to the promise of the Gospel, “He that eats this bread will live forever.” (The Gospel of John 6:58)
The chalice which holds the blood of Christ is the cup of salvation. Every Liturgy, we pray with the priest that the Holy Spirit may change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. This means that when we receive Holy Communion, Jesus comes to live in us. How do we prepare to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus? We pray! We should have love in our hearts for all people. We should ask forgiveness from God and from anyone we may have hurt. Once we have received Communion, we must remember that we have become one with Christ and with all those who received Communion with us. Christ now lives in all of us. “Now, you are the body of Christ, and members individually” (1 Corinthians 12:27)
We are all living icons of Jesus. It is by loving one another that we love Jesus. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you.” (John 12:34) After receiving Communion our bodies become like the Holy chalice. God lives in us. Jesus wants to use our hands, which have now become His hands, to help those in need. When we receive Communion, we become members of Christ's Body, the Church. This means that Jesus has no eyes but our eyes, no feet but our feet to do His work in the world today. How should we respond to the knowledge that we are commissioned to do his works and take care of His ministry. There is only one response …. We take action! If we are truly going to “Receive the Light” we will truly live the message we hear in the Divine Liturgy of Repentance, forgiveness and love.
Our Church invites everyone to come during Great Lent and be fulfilled by the spiritual journey it offers us. And, to attend Holy Week, where we are invited to take a break from our usual schedules and allow ourselves to be fed spiritually so that we can experience God’s peace, and be reunited with the purpose He has for our lives. At St. Basil, we work to minister to the whole family. Therefore, most of our kids participate in Holy week as well. The church holds an all-day Holy Friday Retreat for all the youth and an overnight Holy Friday Lock-in for our 7th – 12th grades. Our kids love participating every year in Holy Friday and we constantly see how positively it affects all the children who participate and the friends they invite as well. Children are just like us adults; they need a break from all the computers, sports schedules and homework deadlines so they can freely understand and experience God’s love through ministry programs such as we have here at St. Basil’s Church.
Our goal during this Holy time in the Church is for families to reunite with their Church, in order to reconnect with God’s peace and unconditional love that He continuously sheds upon us. Our ministry leaders would love for our Church members to feel fed spiritually and to have gained a new confidence in faith, along with a renewed dedication to raising their families according to our traditional Christian teachings. We understand that all of us need a greater dose of these things in our lives and we are dedicated to serve and help offer this experience to all who come.
A Blessed Pascha Season to all
Sources: Orthodox Study Bible, NKJV; “Let’s Take a Walk Though our Orthodox Church” Fr. Anthony Coniaris
Rev. Fr. Bill Tragus