Shedding Our Garment

Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing Life! ~Paschal Tropar

What is dying? Just what it is to put off a garment. For the body is about the soul as a garment; and after laying this aside for a short time by means of death, we shall resume it again with more splendour. ~ St. John Chrysostom

Congratulations on entering the Nativity Fast! Although we’re in a different “liturgical season” than the Great Lent which precedes Pascha (Easter)… We are nonetheless, on day #3 into the 40 day Nativity Lenten period. Advent helps us properly prepare for the upcoming Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ.

The birth and death of Christ are very connected. Sometimes Nativity (Christmas) is even called the Winter Pascha.

Today is also a friend’s funeral… and the Mystery of Pascha is very much on my mind.

Pascha is why Christ was born. He was Born for Resurrection, and Pascha is the the holiest day, over any of all the other feast days, including the Nativity.

Detail of Nativity Icon

The Nativity Icon deliberately connects events… the manger resembles a stone coffin, the swaddling clothes resemble a burial shroud, and the cave itself prefigures Christ’s tomb. The ox and ass portrayed, are from the prophesy of Isaiah.

Jesus came to us in order to die, and this was known by Him even from the very beginning. He took away death, by conquering death, through His Glorious Resurrection!

Sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, the first created man and woman, and now we all sin. There are big sins and little sins, but everyone sins, and any sin separates us from God.

Because of God’s great love for each one of us, He did something incredibly special. Jesus Christ the Son of God, willingly took all the sins of everyone ever born, that means you, me, the whole world, and put them all upon Himself. When Jesus died and was buried, all our sins died and were buried too. We also remember this at our baptism, and are now forgiven because of what Jesus did for us on the cross!

He is the Son of God – and arose victorious, from the dead!

This is why we no longer fear death.

Death is a new beginning.

Those who have gone on before us, are alive in ChristFor he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him. ~St. Luke 20:38

I’ve been singing and humming the Paschal Tropar a lot today. It helps softens sadness, and bestows hope and joy.

Paschal Tropar – Appalachian melody, English

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. ~ Revelation 21:4

With the saints give rest, O Christ our God to the soul of Thy servant, Nicholas. Memory Eternal.

Morning Prayer of the Optina Elders

Christ is Risen!

O Lord, grant that I may meet all that this coming day brings to me with spiritual tranquility. Grant that I may fully surrender myself to Thy holy Will. At every hour of this day, direct and support me in all things. Whatsoever news may reach me in the course of the day, teach me to accept it with a calm soul and the firm conviction that all is subject to Thy Holy Will. Direct my thoughts and feelings in all my words and actions. In all unexpected occurrences, do not let me forget that all is sent down from Thee. Grant that I may deal straightforwardly and wisely with every member of my family, neither embarrassing nor saddening anyone. O Lord, grant me the strength to endure the fatigue of the coming day and all the events that take place during it. Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to be patient, to forgive, and to love. Amen.

The Optina Elders are the Righteous Fathers of the Optina Monastery in Russia, who struggled valiantly in the monastic life of prayer, humility, obedience, and love. God granted them the gifts of discernment, prophecy, clairvoyance, and the grace to guide souls along the path of salvation.

They are Leo (who reposed in 1841), Macarius (1860), Moses (1862), Anthony (1865), Hilarion (1873), Ambrose (1891), Anatolius (1894), Isaacius (1894), Joseph (1911), Barsanuphius (1913), Anatolius (1922), Nectarius (1928), Nicon (1931), and Isaacius (1936).

Their beautiful prayer encompasses everyone’s potential daily encounters and experiences.

Truly He is Risen!

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