Icon of the Resurrection
With St. John Chrysostom's Paschal Homily
The joyous event of the glorious Resurrection is expressed in Orthodox Iconography with
the Descent of the Lord into Hades. The icon on the jacket of this book is a detail of a
fresco by Manuel Panselinos (1295 or 1313 A.D.) in the Protaton Church at Karyes, Mt.
The Lord is depicted with bright garments within a transparent and interrupted circular
"glory" that follows the contour of the cross-engraven crown of light around His
head. The "glory" is faintly noticeable above His head. The Lord, having
descended into Hades with authority, is seen with a firm footing and a powerful stance
upon the gates of Hades, fallen in the shape of an X. In His left hand, Christ is holding
a huge Cross, the symbol of victory. With His right hand (where "the mark of the
nails" is obvious, as well as on His feet) Christ is raising out of the cave of Hades
the forefather Adam, who symbolizes the human race, with a vigorous and unilateral motion.
As a result of this movement, the garment of the triumphant Christ is shown as being blown
upwards by the wind.
Together with Adam, Eve also stretches forth her arms in a beseeching manner. Behind
them and a little higher is St. John the Forerunner, who is indicating the Lord. The space
is completed with the righteous Abel, a young, beardless man with a long shepherd's staff
and an ecstatic expression. In the dark cave of Hades, "the locks of death," the
age-old bars and chains are seen as if shattered by a supernatural power.
At the top of the trapezoid composition two angels are bending over behind the craggy
peaks and are sharing in the triumph of the cosmic and eschatological victory of the Theanthropos
From the back cover of The Mystery of Death, by
Nikolaos P. Vassiliadis. An indispensable book for Orthodox Christians, it comes highly
recommended. However, it can be difficult to find as it is published in Athens. Try
ordering from Eastern Christian Supply Company.
The Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom (Read Each Year at Pascha)
Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful
servant? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!
Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour, let them
receive their due reward; If any have come after the third hour, let him with
gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not
doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh
hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
For the Lord is gracious and receives the
last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as
well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He
bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor. The deed He honors and the
intention He commends.
Let us all enter into the joy of the
Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice
together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
You that have kept the fast, and you that
have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf
is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all
the riches of His goodness!
Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and
again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the
Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hades when He descended into
it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he
said, "You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."
Hell was in an uproar because it was done
away with. It was in an uproar because it is mocked. It was in an uproar, for it is
destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated. It is in an uproar, for it is now
made captive. Hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered
Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?
Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are
annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is Risen, and the
angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated! Christ is Risen, and the tomb is
emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of
those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!