What Has the Feast of Pascha Left in Our Souls?
by St. John Of Kronstadt
And so, the Feast of Feasts has passed by us: and the Royal Gates in the Lords
temples are shut; and the service is no longer as triumphant as it was during Bright Week.
What, then, brethren, has this feast left in our souls? Christian holidays, you see, do
not pass before us, one after another, just to leave our souls idle, but in order to
discharge us from the cares and affairs of lifes concerns; to put it another way:
the Lord provides us with holidays in order that we might temporarily put aside thinking
about, concerning ourselves with, rejoicing at, grieving over, that which is worldly,
earthly, quick to pass; but, instead, that we might meditate upon, concern ourselves with,
rejoice at, that which is heavenly and eternal. It was precisely for this reason, as well,
that the holiday just past was given us.
The Lord made us worthy of beholding the all-radiant feast of Christs
Resurrection in order that we might descry in it the first-fruits of the universal
resurrection of all mankind in that last day of the world: Christ rose from the dead,
being the first-fruits of those who had died (Cor. 15, 20), says the Word of God. It was
for us, you see, that the Lord suffered, died, was buried, and arose: and His death,
burial and resurrection is, as it were, our own death, burial and resurrection. It is for
this reason that we sang during Mattins of Bright Week: yesterday was I interred with
Thee, O Christ; conjointly with Thee do I rise today (Pasch. Can. Ode 3, Trop. 2). Yes, we
all of us, invariably, shall rise up; and we all look for, i.e., await, the resurrection
of the dead. This is as certain as it is certain that there will be a day tomorrow. Has
this ever entered your heads; have you given any thought to this during the holiday? Yet
it was necessary to think upon this, without fail. All the great holidays of the
Church,and the Feast of Pascha, in particular,remind us of our redemption,
through Jesus Christ, from the age to come.
But such a one as believes in his resurrection from the dead, the same prepares here
for the future life; attempts to live in accordance with the commandments of the Lord;
honours the feasts of the Lord; and takes care not to offend against their sanctity
through deeds of carnal impurity. And what was done among us, us Orthodox Christians, on
this radiant Feast? It is shameful even to speak of it; but it is necessary to do so.
Christians, to the great grief of Holy Mother the Church, turned the bright days of Pascha
Week into dark days, days deserving of tears and lamentation. So very many celebrated not
the feast of Christs Resurrection, and our own resurrection from dead works, but a
feast of demonic resurrection in their souls. The Great Fast was a defeat of, was death
for, the devil; because he fled from many souls and died to them, as it were, after their
sincere repentance and communion of the Holy Mysteries; but on the feast of Pascha he rose
again in not a few souls. How did he arise? Through gluttony, drunkenness, outrage and
other vices that drunkenness gives rise to, and to which many Christians gave themselves
over. It is thus that Christians love Christ; it is thus that they celebrate the greatest
holiday of the year! What benefit is there in such people calling themselves Christians?
Many pagans live better lives than that and, without a doubt, are more worthy in
Gods eyes than are they. Those of other [non-Christian] faiths and those who are not
Orthodox, who dwell in our city [Kronstadt] are astonished at such behaviour, and on so
great a holiday, and say: there are the Christians, for you; there are the Orthodox, for
you! They celebrate like real pagans, and on such a holiday, yet! That is what those of
other faiths and those who are not Orthodox say of us. But what does the Lord Himself say
of our holidays; or, more preciselyof our observance of them? My soul hateth your
festivals, and I cannot bear the great day, saith the Lord, I am surfeited; I will no more
pardon your sins (Esaias 1, 14).
Brethren! Whom have we begun to resemble? to what extent have we given ourselves over
to forgetfulness? And the word of Scripture is being fulfilled in us in all its force: and
man, being in honour, understandeth not; he is compared to senseless cattle and hath
become like unto them (Ps. 48; 13, 21). Christ the Lord hath honoured us with His name; He
hath washed us with His blood; he hath made of us a chosen people, an holy nation ([I]
Pet. 2, 9); while we insolently, madly, have despised Gods mercy and dishonour
ourselves by all means of dissolute acts. Do not flatter yourselves, brethren: neither
thieves, nor murderers, nor fornicators, nor adulterers shall inherit the Kingdom of God
(I Cor. 6; 9, 10). Yes, if you do not cease from behaving thus, especially on holy days
which, according to the Lords commandment, should be consecrated and sanctified,
then ye will not see the Kingdom of God.
Brethren! it is extremely necessary for us to behave more wisely, and to attend more
closely to ourselves, during the feasts of the Lord. The Lord will call us strictly to
account for our foolish revelry. It is not according to the flesh, as do those who worship
idols; but, rather, according to the spirit, that we should celebrate our holidays;
although even bodily celebration, if it occurs together with the spiritual, is permitted
and is not hateful to the Lord; but, in that case, it must never exceed the bounds of
moderation. God is spirit (John 4, 24; 2 Cor. 3, 17); our soul, redeemed by the Saviour,
is spirit: therefore should our holidays be more spiritual than fleshly. Such a one as
celebrates only bodily, the same celebrates not unto God, but unto his idolthe
belly; or, which is all the same, to the demon of intemperance. God deliver everyone from
such feasts! The abundance of material viands is permitted to Christians on holidays to
the glory of God, in order that we might eat and drink in moderation, thanking God Who,
together with spiritual joy, sends us bodily consolation, also, in the variety and
sweetness of the viands and beverages, in order that our joy might not be wanting. But
spiritual joy on a holiday must always surpass that of the body; while, with usit is
It is said, in Gods commandment: remember the Sabbath day, and sanctify it (Ex.
20, 8); in our language of the New Testament, this means: remember the Day of
Resurrection; do not forget its holiness and try to sanctify it yourself by your good
O Lord! grant that we might always remember Thy commandment concerning how we are to
celebrate holy days; that we might keep it holy and be well-pleasing unto Thee with
spiritual celebration. Amen.
Originally translated into English for "The Light Of Orthodoxy," Spring 1983,
by G. Spruksts, from the Russian text appearing in Solntse Pravdy: O zhizni i uchenii
Gospoda Nashego Iisusa Khrista ["The Sun Of Righteousness: Concerning the Life
and Teaching Of Our Lord Jesus Christ"] by Protopriest Ioann (Sergiev) [of
Kronstadt], Chapter 5, pp. 297 - 301. Reprinted by permission. English-language
translation copyright 1983, 1998 by The St. Stefan Of Perm Guild, The Russian
Cultural Heritage Society, and the Translator. All rights reserved.