Another Way of Living

While many Christians have long celebrated Easter, this year Orthodox Easter takes place on Sunday, April 27 – much later … Continued

While many Christians have long celebrated Easter, this year Orthodox Easter takes place on Sunday, April 27 – much later than normally, as a result of ancient calendar calculations and regulations requiring the prior celebration of the Jewish Passover, in accordance with their traditional interpretation of scriptural record. Thus, at midnight on Saturday April 26, the night that is said to be brighter than any sunlit day, some 300 million Orthodox Christians will crowd churches to hear the words: “Come, receive the light!” Throughout the world, entire congregations, previously waiting in darkness and anticipation, will light up in splendor and people’s faces will shine with joy and hope. All of them will chant the familiar hymn of triumph: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and granting life to those in the tombs.” For Orthodox faithful, Easter is the feast of feasts. As one Orthodox Easter hymn says, the feast of the Resurrection proposes “another way of seeing” and “another way of living.” Yet, the secret of that new life is already foreshadowed in the previous day, when the Orthodox Church recalls the harsh reality of the Cross.

Faced with the seeming inevitability and impasse of global suffering, it is so easy to be cynical; it is tempting to dismiss issues like climate change or global conflict or world hunger, criticizing those who transform these into political flags or else who transmit messages of love. Yet, while people have become insensitive to sermons about the gloom and doom of our world, the reality of evil transcends any act of war or terrorism and every expression of violence or suffering. These are but symptoms of a deeper reality, which is overcome on the Cross on Good Friday [or Holy and Great Friday, as Orthodox Christians prefer to call it] through the radical power of forgiveness, tolerance, and compassion.

The truth is that the Gospel message is as simple as it is radical. We are called to stand for love where there is hatred, to preach compassion where there is injustice, and to insist on dialogue where there is division. This at least, as we have been assured, is how people should recognize that those who call themselves Christians. (John 13.35) In fact, however, as uncomplicated as this may sound, it is a much harder Gospel to live by. It is far easier to proclaim a Gospel of power and might. It seems far less challenging to be dismissive of efforts to sustain conversation among unlikely partners from radically different religious or cultural backgrounds (even among the great monotheistic traditions, such as Christians, Muslims, and Jews) and conservation of natural resources (whether fundamental to our survival as human beings, or responsive to developing nations that experience poverty or hunger, or else supportive of our lifestyles). It is certainly far less intrusive in our personal lives to resist changes to our habits. People have far too much at stake.

Hoping for change invites challenge in our worldview and lifestyle. But how willing are we to pay a price for our selfish consumption, our wasteful pollution, and our prideful discrimination, both racial and religious? When will we stop and be silent long enough to notice the direct impact of our way of life on the poor among us and on the poor of the world? Do we even recognize the wounds we have wrought upon the flesh of our brother and sister, as well as upon the body of the world? Is it that difficult to discern the arrogance of our behavior, conveniently and complacently overlooking the damage that results from our silence or ignorance?

When Orthodox Christians recall the Resurrection, they are not primarily concerned intellectually with how that miracle actually took place. In fact, they think less of an empty grave and more of an open tomb, which remains an open invitation to those who believe. The miracle of Resurrection calls for an openness to confess the reality of the darkness within us and around us, admitting our role and responsibility in refusing to eradicate the suffering in our world. Then, when we stand honestly before the reality of our evil – in earnest recognition and prayerful confession of the hurt we inflict upon our neighbor within society and within the global community, and the abuse with we treat the earth’s resources – at that very moment of realization are we also able to perceive the hope and light of the Resurrection. Only then are we able to apprehend the relationship between the Resurrection and the presence of war, racism, global warming and terrorism in our world. For then, we shall also be able to discern the light of the Resurrection in our hearts and in our world.

This is why for forty days after the bright night of that Easter vigil, Orthodox Christians will continue to greet one another with the words: “Christ is Risen! Truly, He is Risen!”

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians. He is author of the new book “Encountering the Mystery.”

  • harold

    Do you know why Jews celebrate Passover, Purim, HanukkahUpon one day in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, namely, upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar.Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim.And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea.The four sides of the world,

  • harold

    all the people from every quarter“the day when the Son of man is revealed”Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.“day of judgment”And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.“which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell”But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.“the day when the Son of man is revealed”And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;bake unleavened breadThe four quarters of the world,

  • harold

    In Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel.Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.For thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.In Judah is God knownthe Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:Passover, Purim, Hanukkah, Easter

  • Steve R.

    Thank-you for making this post. I look forward to “On Faith” continuing discussing Orthodox Christianity.

  • Concerned the Christian Now Liberated

    A bible thumper and crazy JJ all at once. Blog masters, please, please clean up the mess.

  • losing hope

    I am afraid.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Dear Holiness Patriarch BartholomewThank you for your beautiful and insightful thoughts on Easter, and the need for us as Christians to examine and purify our own hearts in order to be authentic and effective as Christians.I thank you also for the great work you do not only for your own Church but also to bring about unity among all Christians and enter into meaningful dialogue with members of all religions.Being born into an orthodox Christian tradition myself, the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Kerala, India, I feel a special bond with Orthodox Christians and appreciate its non-Latin traditions. Being a part of the Roman Catholic Church, I feel doubly blessed for I enjoy the beauty and majesty of the Latin tradition anywhere in the world. Wishing you and all the others who celebrate at the same time as you do, a wonderful Easter! May the Risen Lord Jesus Christ remain alive in our hearts everyday and unite all Christians in love!Soja John ThaikattilPS: The first Indian woman, Sr Alphonsa, to be canonised by Pope Benedict XVI on 12 October 2008, is a member of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.

  • Concerned the Christian Now Liberated

    From the course notes of a large Catholic university’s graduate theology class:”Heaven is a Spirit state (no physical bodies abide there so where are the bodies????).Christ’s and Mary’s bodies are not in Heaven. For one thing, Paul in 1 Cor 15 speaks of the body of the dead as transformed into a “spiritual body.” No one knows exactly what he meant by this term.Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church. Only Luke’s Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus’ mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus’ followers The Assumption hasAmazing how this agrees with Professor Crossan and many other contemporary NT exegetes’ conclusions based on attestations and stratums.So where are the bodies? Originally in typical burial places of those who died in the first century CE. Now the molecules/atoms from these now long-decomposed bodies circulate in the natural, recycling processes. Just think some Palestinian or Israeli have molecules/atoms in their bodies that once were in the bodies of Jesus, Mary and/or Joseph i.e. the ultimate in Ecumenism!!

  • Chris

    Patriarch Bartholemew and all orthodox christians everywhereChrist is risen!

  • artistkvip

    i think you said it correctly unless a person a people a religion a race or a people can first see and understand the truth about themselves even those truths that were inadvertantant or unitended and how those relate to others then they lack the understanding to truely solve the problems of the world. many of these problems merely ask for the acknowledgement of truth rather than an actual changing of reality. reality is percieved differently by different people of different experiences…. but always while seeing the same thing from different perpectives they may indeed all be seeing it quite correctly .. its kind of like thinking of all the different places an artist can start a painting from perspective wise. it makes a difference in what it looks like but all angles are true.. maybe the answer is to let people express the truth as they see it and others to understand the legitamacy of diffent experiences… but please check 4 truth i’m just a dyslexic artist

  • Anonymous

    and exactly what is that to do with global warming? NOTHING AT ALL.

  • Anonymous

    harold – YOU NEED TO TAKE YOUR MEDS AND SEE YOUR DOCTOR REAL SOON.

  • Jonathan

    To the previous poster: please clean up your spelling and grammar so we can understand you at all.

  • David James

    To Losing Hope,God Bless You. We all are afraid – of something, perhaps everything. Fear nothing but God, man is condemned to his own selfishness – war, global warming, pride, arrogance, hatred, fear, every chain and bond of rebellion that Christ died to break and in so doing, He brought us life eternal, a spiritual freedom from fear. And after fear? It is replaced by love, for love is God. Forget books, dogma, righteousness – the dividers of the World – simply love God with all your mind and being, without condition, with the sweetness of your own self, and the Love of God with flow back into you, that same Love of the Risen Christ.Fear not, for God loves you as he loves His Son, Christ Jesus.

  • David James

    To Losing Hope,God Bless You. We all are afraid – of something, perhaps everything. Fear nothing but God, man is condemned to his own selfishness – war, global warming, pride, arrogance, hatred, fear, every chain and bond of rebellion that Christ died to break and in so doing, He brought us life eternal, a spiritual freedom from fear. And after fear? It is replaced by love, for love is God. Forget books, dogma, righteousness – the dividers of the World – simply love God with all your mind and being, without condition, with the sweetness of your own self, and the Love of God with flow back into you, that same Love of the Risen Christ.Fear not, for God loves you as he loves His Son, Christ Jesus.

  • patrick

    thanks for your interesting review of the resurrection, and what it means for orthodox Christians. But when I read the comments, I fear for America. Pope Benedict was happy to so much religion in America. But the question is this. What is the quality of that religion? Where is its depth? What kind of thinking underlies it? It’s no wonder we have people like Dawkins whose critique is as irrational as that of the religious manifestations he abhors.

  • martiniano

    The resurection myth was Paul’s way to win over the Greeks. Prior to Paul’s Jesus hero, half-god Greeks, half human, half God such as Achilles, were mortal. But Paul, who was familiar with Homer and Greek mythology, added the twist that Jesus – half-man, half-god that he was – returned from the dead and was therefore one of the immortals.That’s all it was, the resurection myth, a way for Paul to win Greek minds. And it worked. His best work was in Greek cities. Notice the Jews, who did not share Paul’s training in Homer (Paul was educated in Tarsus, a Greek City)rejected the resurection myth.Resurection, today, is a weakness in the Christian syllabus. It is for weak minds who cannot grasp the full beauty of Christ’s teachings without some sort of superhero aspect. As if Christ was not good enough unless he was immortal. Christ WAS good enough. His teachings stand on their own as beautiful and worthy of following. So please just consider this – resurection is an insult to Jesus. If you love Jesus then you don’t need resurection to follow his teaching.

  • Mark W.

    You know Padre, I have often referred to the District of Columbia as the Altered State of the Union. Luckily I was advised, “If your leaders say to you, the Kingdom is in the sky…” tell them they are full of hogwash.If people are in fact practicing Christianity in D.C., they had better take a real hard look at Corinthians 4:4. Or they may consider the basis of all humility, “I myself am nothing”.The other day the electricity feeding my home was off for a short duration. Entering the bathroom, I flipped the light switch and the light did not come on, stupid me.

  • gary

    you are preaching to the choir. the rules of God don’t apply to unbelievers,at least not till they stand before the great white throne judgment. we as christians are not here to save the earth,we are here to spread the gospel of salvation. like Jesus said”let the dead bury the dead,you follow me”. if you were not paying attention,the crowd who has taken up the global warming hoax has us believers in their gunsights.

  • Arminius

    To Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew:Thank you, and God bless, for a beautiful essay. You give me hope.Arminius

  • Arminius

    To CCNL:Stuff it.Arminius

  • Arminius

    Will the Moderator PLEASE delete JJ’s mindless drool from this blog?

  • Correction one of many.

    … “MODERN-MORALiTY” outcome’s & no more “Biblical Morality’s” Schism’s!???

  • David Crosby

    Why is it that God needs so many different sects and spokesmen here on Earth? His interpreted thoughts and expectations are the disaster of the species.

  • viki

    HAPPY Easter!

  • Concerned the Christian Now Liberated

    Arminius, Arminius, Arminius,Hmmm, what bothers you now? Not agreeing with what many NT exegetes have concluded about the historic Jesus? What is being taught is some large Catholic university theology classes? The “fems” of Islam and/or Christianity? Limbo? Original sin? Profits instead of prophecies? Pretty wingie, talking, flying, fictional thingies? The demons of the demented? Being Born, Bred, and Brainwashed in Henry VIII’s religion?

  • Ray

    Well, it’s good to see that there is a place on the internet where all the kooks can go to spread their vapid opinions. It’s surprising that so many people cling to such ridiculous belief systems just because they lack the imagination to create something better. Folks, just because a tradition is 2000 or 4000 years old doesn’t instill it with immediate validity. Hundreds of years after the European Enlightenment, it’s distressing to see so many fools, um I mean followers, willing to believe the most absurb ‘truths’. We’d be better off as a species without this drivel.

  • Stelios

    Ray, you are a pathetic specimen of the human race.You are not only selfish, but you found it necessary to tell more than 300 million humans that they are nuts and you are the wise one. Why don’t you creep in your borrow and resurface when your brain is thawed. As for Patriarch Bartoleme, he is truly a pius man, with love for humanity including people like Ray. Xristos Anesti-Alithos Anesti o Kyrios!

  • Stelios

    Ray, you are a pathetic specimen of the human race.You are not only selfish, but you found it necessary to tell more than 300 million humans that they are nuts and you are the wise one. Why don’t you creep in your borrow and resurface when your brain is thawed. As for Patriarch Bartoleme, he is truly a pius man, with love for humanity including people like Ray. Xristos Anesti-Alithos Anesti o Kyrios!

  • Stelios

    Ray, you are a pathetic specimen of the human race.You are not only selfish, but you found it necessary to tell more than 300 million humans that they are nuts and you are the wise one. Why don’t you creep in your borrow and resurface when your brain is thawed. As for Patriarch Bartoleme, he is truly a pius man, with love for humanity including people like Ray. Xristos Anesti-Alithos Anesti o Kyrios!

  • Stelios

    Ray, you are a pathetic specimen of the human race.You are not only selfish, but you found it necessary to tell more than 300 million humans that they are nuts and you are the wise one. Why don’t you creep in your borrow and resurface when your brain is thawed. As for Patriarch Bartoleme, he is truly a pius man, with love for humanity including people like Ray. Xristos Anesti-Alithos Anesti o Kyrios!

  • Stelios

    Ray, you are a pathetic specimen of the human race.You are not only selfish, but you found it necessary to tell more than 300 million humans that they are nuts and you are the wise one. Why don’t you creep in your borrow and resurface when your brain is thawed. As for Patriarch Bartoleme, he is truly a pius man, with love for humanity including people like Ray. Xristos Anesti-Alithos Anesti o Kyrios!

  • Jonathan

    Paul never wrote about a resurrected Jesus. He wrote about a risen Jesus (in Greek, “risen” and “resurrected” are unalike), as if Jesus’ body rotted away while his soul arose to Heaven, just like John Brown. The anonymous author of the “Gospel of Matthew” decided to one-up the spiritual JC by including a bonafide reanimated corpse in his story, and “Luke” and “John” (not really written by those men) followed suit, with John inventing the Doubting Thomas story. (Note I do not discuss Mark’s Gospel. That ended with an empty tomb. The JC speech about poisonous snakes was added by someone else 100 years later.)

  • Italian Baptist man

    I have heard the details from Queen Ester to the rolling stone. All that matters is that Jesus is sitting right here with me when I need Him. You can bet that he keeps me on target in an otherwise screwball world.I get all I need from him only, because my fellow man is filled with

  • Concerned the Christian Now Liberated

    Jonathan,As previously noted on this thread:From the course notes of a large Catholic university’s graduate theology class:”Heaven is a Spirit state (no physical bodies abide there so where are the bodies????).Christ’s and Mary’s bodies are not in Heaven. For one thing, Paul in 1 Cor 15 speaks of the body of the dead as transformed into a “spiritual body.” No one knows exactly what he meant by this term.Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.The physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus’ crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary’sThe Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church. Only Luke’s Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus’ mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus’ followers The Assumption hasAmazing how this agrees with Professor Crossan and many other contemporary NT exegetes’ conclusions based on attestations and stratums.So where are the bodies? Originally in the typical burial places of those who died in the first century CE. Now the molecules/atoms from these now long-decomposed bodies circulate in the natural, recycling processes. Just think some Palestinian or Israeli have molecules/atoms in their bodies that once were in the bodies of Jesus, Mary and/or Joseph i.e. the ultimate in Ecumenism!!April 26, 2008 9:44 AM |

  • Jeff

    Patriarch Bartholomew’s words are compassionate, healing and inspiring. I’m not a Christian, but I believe that such words are badly needed and sadly lacking in religious discourse today. All the best to His All Holiness Bartholomew and all who pursue peace, understanding and compassion.

  • Ken Tobin

    I would be a lot more impressed if is All Holiness was addressing problems in his own purview first. What about an independent American Orthodox Church? How about calling an Ecumenical Coucil to correct and update the numerous failures and corruptions afflicting worldwide Orthodxy today? Then, just maybe, the world would be willing to listen to him pontificate on “affairs of state.” Isn’t there something in Scripture directing us to deal with the splinter in our own eye first?

  • Jonathan

    There is no such thing as a “soul” or “spiritual” element that survives the death of our bodies because the “soul” (personality, memories) is part of the body, located in the brain, and can be damaged while we are alive to create Memento (50 1st Dates) syndrome or Doctor Strangelove’s arm syndrome. All of life is a biological chemical reaction, and those chemicals eventually stop reacting, causing death. There are no Pearly Gates nor Lake of Fire–those are figments of primitive, ignorant superstition. Judeo-Christianity probably started advertising afterlife theology in the Judah Maccabee time period as a way of recruiting (what else?)–suicide bombers!This world is our life in its entirety, no let’s go out and live!

  • Lev.ent Alk.an

    Vartho LuminiousAya Bescusbir saat basi alti ya da yedi sabah bir aydinlik

  • Lev.ent Alk.an (science.manners)

    Lev.ent Alk.an (science manners): aziz MAtthew’den soz ediyorum.cikis giris gunlerim 14 MAyis 1973 ve 2 Agustos 1972.June 4, 2008 6:48 AM | Report Offensive Comments ilkokul numaram 648, June 4 2008 6:48 11

  • cemali

    siz kime laf ediyonuz lan ibneler ali kul neyinize kursun soktu

  • Kevin

    This message of reconciliation and hope during the Easter season is very well thought out and written. Yet, I am left with the question of what kind of efforts can non-Orthodox Christians take to partner with their Orthodox brothers and sisters around the world. Often it seems that there are strong biases and preconceptions from both sides that results in the Orthodox and Evangelicals for instance not working together or even seeing each other as Christians. What can be done to heal these wounds and regain trust, particularly in places like the former Soviet Union where the Church was persecuted for years?

  • Kevin

    This message of reconciliation and hope during the Easter season is very well thought out and written. Yet, I am left with the question of what kind of efforts can non-Orthodox Christians take to partner with their Orthodox brothers and sisters around the world. Often it seems that there are strong biases and preconceptions from both sides that results in the Orthodox and Evangelicals for instance not working together or even seeing each other as Christians. What can be done to heal these wounds and regain trust, particularly in places like the former Soviet Union where the Church was persecuted for years?

  • John R.

    Eis polla eti despota!

  • Gareth Barnard

    With all due respect to Patriarch Bartholomew, he is not, repeat NOT, the “spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians.” He represents only the three thousand Greek Orthodox living in Turkey. His message above is clearly intended for consumption by secular Americans. It is not the message of the Holy Orthodox Christian Church, which constantly calls us to repentance, telling us to live in Christ and to become like Him to the exclusion of all other concerns.