Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Elder Ephraim of Arizona on Pascha, Paradise and Springtime

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
The Resurrection of Christ (source)
   
"Now in the springtime, when nature is wearing its most beautiful apparel, one feels inexpressible joy when this natural beauty is accompanied by a sublime spiritual state. Truly, our holy God has made all things in wisdom (Ps. 103:26)! The soul cannot get enough of beholding the beauty of nature. Oh, if man would only lift his mind above this earthly realm to the heavenly Jerusalem, to the inconceivable beauty of paradise where the finite, earthly mind ceases to operate! If here in exile, in this accursed land of weeping, our holy God has given us so much beauty to enjoy, I wonder how much there will be in the place where God Himself dwells! Truly, “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory and bliss (Rom. 8:18).” Theosis* in the heavens, my child! There the Lord our God will remove every tear from our eyes, and do away with all sorrow and pain and sighing, for there the angelic way of life reigns, and the only work is to chant hymns and spiritual odes! An eternal Sabbath is prepared for us where we shall live in joy with our Father, God, Who is waiting for us to be ready so that He may call us to Him forever! There every saved soul will live in an ocean of love, sweetness, joy, amazement, and wonder!" 
*Theosis: Connected with the theoria of uncreated Light, theosis, or divinization, is a participation in the uncreated grace of God. At this stage of perfection, one has reached dispassion. Through the cooperation of God with man, theosis is attained through the action of the transfigurative grace of God.
   
The Resurrection of Christ (source)
   
"Ah, if you could only see a little bit of paradise, if you could only hear for a few seconds the chanting of the sweet angels who shine with heavenly light and emit paradisiacal fragrance! Oh, what beauty! Unfortunately, we are in the dark about all these things.
There everything shines with limitless bliss. And what does the throne of Christ tell you? Christ the Master sits upon a throne, and due to His light no one can discern His sacred and most sweet face. Oh, what sweetness and beauty! What is more beautiful than this? This is truly paradise: to behold the face of our Jesus! Glory to Thy Cross, O Lord, and to Thy Resurrection!
O depth of the wisdom of God! O mysteries of the three sun Deity! Blessed is he who humbles himself like a child, obeying all commands with a guileless soul for the love of God! And woe to him who will hold on to his egotism, like me; how many divine gifts does he deprive himself of!
My children, run with humility to reach the Lord Who humbled Himself for our sake—our sweetest, beloved Christ, the light of our poor souls.
See what beauty awaits us! If you could only see how beautiful it is! You would disregard everything; you would even become like trash to be stepped on, just as long as you would not be deprived of everything that the sweet love of Jesus has prepared! These are the kinds of things my Elder used to tell me, and I am conveying them to you so that you may be sweetened. I am done—forgive me!
   
Christ, the Good Shepherd, Who came to find the lost sheep (source)
   
From Counsels from the Holy Mountain: Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim of Arizona (sources 1 and 2)
   
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

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