He left nothing undone till He had bestowed upon us His Kingdom

WE have nothing of our own. God created us out of non-being. When we had fallen, He raised us up. He left nothing undone till He had bestowed upon us His Kingdom which is to come.

Archimandrite Vasileios, Abbot of the Iveron.

An icon of Christ carried on a bier to his tomb, from the Stavronikita monastery, Mount Athos.

"He left nothing undone". An icon of Christ being laid on a bier and carried to his tomb, from the Stavronikita monastery, Mount Athos.

**

As Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos has written,

SALVATION is not a matter of intellectual acceptance of truth; rather it is a person’s transformation and divinization by grace.

Orthodox Spirituality, chapter 2. Source.

So the Cross and the empty Tomb — what do they mean for my life? What should I do?

What should I do?

WE find ourselves drowned in His manifest and hidden benefactions. We are literally swept away in this deluge of His mercy and love: He is offered to us, broken and poured out.

The Epitaphios in procession, Moscow, Great Friday 2011. Picture from Romfea.

The Epitaphios in procession, Moscow, Great Friday 2011. Picture from Romfea (click for more photos).

We do not know what to do. We can find nothing of our own to give Him as an offering of thanks, “for we have done nothing good on earth.”

That is why we take everything that is His own and offer it with gratitude: “Bringing before Thee Thine of Thine own, in all and for all.”

This total liturgical offering given in return to the Lord who is eternally slaughtered — an act of thanksgiving and freedom — forms the center of the mystery, the source of the sanctification of man and of the precious gifts.

This offering strips us of everything: we are lost (Matt. 16:25).

We cease to exist. We die.

At the same time, this is the moment when we are born into life; we partake in divine life through offering everything, through becoming an offering of thanksgiving.

So the loss of our life is at the same time the emergence of our existence into a world “new and uncompounded”: and when we have reached that world, we are truly human beings.

Archimandrite Vasileios, “Hymn of Entry” (SVS Press 1984) pp. 57, 59.

**

FOR with the Lord there is mercy, and with him plentiful redemption: and he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

TODAY Hell groans and cries, ‘It were better for me had I not accepted the one born of Mary, for he has come upon me and destroyed my might. He has smashed the gates of brass. Souls which before I held, he, being God, has raised’.

Glory, O Lord, to your Cross and to your Resurrection!

PRAISE the Lord, all you nations: praise him all you peoples.

TODAY Hell groans and cries, ‘My authority has been destroyed. I received a mortal as one of the dead, but have no strength at all to hold him, but with him I shall lose those over whom I reigned. I held the dead from every age, but see, he raises them all’.

Glory, O Lord, to your Cross and to your Resurrection!

FOR his mercy has been mighty towards us: and the truth of the Lord endures to the ages.

Vespers on Holy and Great Saturday. Translation from Anastasis.

**

There is an excellent post on Christ’s descent into Hades, taken from the works of Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, at “Sowing Seeds” today.

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