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Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Pascha of Incorruption

This was taken from the Orrologion blog.

"Listen to the triumphant hymns of the Church! Not on the day of Holy Pascha alone, but on all the great fests you will frequently hear the word “incorruption.” The entire matter of the salvation of the human race is expressed in the Church’s living theology as the gift of incorruption. This means that we lack incorruption. We are in a condition of corruption. The Synaxarion for the Holy and Great Sunday of Pascha is read only in monasteries, of course, and not even in all of them. Here is how the theological significance of the event we celebrate is defined: “It was on this day that He came down from heaven and dwelt in the womb of the Virgin. And now He has snatched the whole of humanity from the vaults of Hell and made it pass upwards to heaven and brought it to its ancient dignity of incorruption.” Two details are significant here: Pascha is placed next to the event of the Nativity of Christ, and incorruption is called the ancient dignity.

Listening to the Church’s hymns, one grows increasingly convinced of what rich treasures of ideas they are, of how important they are for an authentic Orthodox understanding of life. Our school courses on dogmatics, taught from the cathedras of seminaries and academies, stand much lower in relation to that theology that our readers and singers teach the faithful from the church kliros.

A Pascha of incorruption… The return to the ancient dignity… Our school theology speaks of some sort of juridical accounts between God and man. Sin is called primarily a crime against God, an affront to God, for which the righteousness of God must avenge the paltry offender. But the Church calls sin first of all corruption, the loss of the ancient dignity of incorruption. Here there are no juridical accounts with the Lord God. Man fell away from God, and his spiritual and corporal corruption began. Self-rule in the spiritual life led to slavery to sin and the passions. Man began to decay in seductive lusts. The soul rots, the soul decays. This sounds awful, but it is indeed the case. The process of spiritual corruption can be compared to any other kind of rotting. When any organism rots everything in it breaks down, and in time it produces poisonous and malodorous gases. The spiritual nature, damaged and contaminated by sin, will also rot in the same way. The soul loses its chastity [whole-mindedness], its integrity, and decomposes; the will within it weakens, which connects everything, and to which everything is subordinate. Constant passionate thoughts and evil deeds escape from the sinful soul. Anyone who pays close attention to his spiritual life can not but be surprised by how difficult it is to instill any good and beautiful thing in the soul, and how easily and quickly any dark and evil thing is strengthened. Do we not therefore say that something bad is living in our soul; that it is unhealthy, ill? Corruption reigns in our soul, and it is especially evident that our body is subject to corruption. Many can live without being aware of spiritual illness, they can muffle the soul’s inner moaning and cries with the noise of life. But the corruption of the body in death is irrefutable. All the colors of life pale before this corruption. The works of the ascetics about spiritual death can be rejected and perhaps even ridiculed. But try to find a nihilist who would not understand the service of burial and the graveside mourning of St John of Damascus!"

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