There’s a traditional story told from the early days of persecution in Russia that illustrates the theme of Paschal victory. An atheist lecturer came to a village, and all the inhabitants were assembled to listen to him. He explained to them at great length that there is no God, and he said at the end, “Are there any questions?” At the back of the audience the parish priest stood up and said, “I’d like to say something”. The atheist lecturer, sensing trouble, told him: “You must be very brief. I will only allow you half a minute.” “Oh,” said the priest, “I don’t need nearly as much time as that. What I wanted to say is this: “Christ is risen!” All the audience shouted back, “He is risen indeed.” Then the priest turned to the atheist lecturer with the words, “That’s all I wanted to say!” Such is our answer to the world’s misery: The risen Christ is victor over darkness and despair.

Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, in the same lecture that I referred to in the previous post.

It is rather late to be wishing people a blessed Pascha, but the place where I spent it does not combine well with my internet connection – which is, probably, not such a bad thing! I did think of trying to post a video clip of the Liturgy in Afrikaans – having recently been given a new cell phone that has made me take some tentative steps out of total Ludditeism – but then realised that I’d left the phone’s charger at home, so that didn’t really work. In any case, a blessed Pascha to all. It’s the first year that I’ve celebrated the Orthodox services in a language I can understand, and the more I do that the more I realise the truth of Father Cyprian (Kern)’s words that “The church choir is a chair of theology.”

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