In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Beloved, Christ is Risen, truly He is Risen! Christos Anesti, Alithos Anesti!

In the Church, this week starting from Holy Pascha until this Saturday, is the Bright Week (or Renewal Week), and Thomas Sunday continues right after. It has been since the 7th century (Council of Trullo), that this week is for the joyous celebration of the Holy Resurrection of Christ our Lord, and to partake in the Sacred Mysteries.

During this Week, the Royal Doors of the Iconostasis of the Eastern Church will be open (or the Curtains will be open for the Oriental Church, such as where we are blessed to worship), signifying the rolling away of the stone of the tomb of our Christ, and close again on Thomas Sunday. This whole week, all fasting rules are lifted, with no psalter readings, no prostrations, no kneeling. We also have a Cross Procession three times around the Church, carrying the Icon of the Resurrection and the Artos (a blessed leavened bread during Vigil, signifying the presence of the Risen Christ). In the Bright Week, we believe that those faithful who were penitent and reposed, will receive Divine Mercy of their sins and ascend into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Even as this week is a joyous celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord and Christ, a presumptious and indulgent celebration is not advised. There are 2 reasons. When one fasts quite penitently during the Great Lent, and then suddenly indulging in disproportionate feasting, it is extremely harmful to the digestive system and to health. Second, if one suddenly becomes indulgent in feasting after fasting, it may also signify the overzealous passion of gluttony at play, something that can tug at our spirituality as a lure of the evil one.

Today we remember Saints Aristarchus, Pudas and Trophymos, of the Seventy, who were all sent by Christ our Lord to proclaim the Gospel (St Luke 10:1-24).

The Holy Disciples Aristarchus, Pudas and Trophymos were from among the Seventy Disciples, whom the Lord Jesus Christ had sent before him with the good-news of the Gospel (Lk. 10: 1-24). Saint Aristachus, from Thessalonica, worked alongside the Holy Apostle Paul, and later went on to become the Bishop of Apamea (mentioned in Acts, Col 4:10, Philemon 1:24). Saint Pudas was a Roman senator whose house became a church (mentioned in 2 Tim 4:21). Saint Trophymos came from Edessa, and was a student and fellow laborer of the Holy Apostle Paul (mentioned in Acts and 2 Tim 4:20). All 3 saints were martyred under emperor Nero. Saints Aristarchus, Pudas and Trophymos, pray for us.

With joyous celebration of the Risen Christ our Lord, let us keep His holy name close to our heart every day, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Readings:
Acts 2:38-43
John 3:1-15