When someone starts for a trip, should know where they’re going. That’s what happens with The Great Lent.
Above all, The Great Lent is a spiritual journey that is destined for Easter, the Feast of Feasts.
It is the preparation for the “filling of Easter, which is the real Revelation”. That is why we should start by trying to understand this relationship that exists between Lent and Easter, because it reveals something very substantial and very important about our Christian faith and life.
Is it necessary to explain that Easter is much more than a celebration, far beyond an annual memory of a passing event? Everyone who, even once, was in present in Church this night “the savior, the light and the shining”, who tasted that unique joy, knows this.
But what is this joy? Why do we chant in the resurrectable mode: now there is always light, heaven and earth and the infernable” ? In what sense are we celebrating” – as we claim to be doing so – death the necrosis, Ados the deposion of another living of the eternal beginning…?
To all these questions the answer is: the new life which about two thousand years ago was raised from the grave”, was offered to us, to all those who believe in Christ.
So Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Christ as an event that has happened and is still happening to us. Because each of us has received the gift of this new life and the power to accept it and live through it. It is a gift that radically changes our mood in the face of every situation in this world, even of death. It gives us the strength to triumphantly confirm: death has been defeated.”
Of course there’s still death, he’s sure, we’re dealing with him, and one day he’ll come for us. But all our faith is that with His death Christ changed the very nature of death. He made it pass – pass, Easter” – in the Kingdom of God, transforming the most dramatic tragedy into an eternal triumph, into a victory. With the death of your foot,” he made us shareholders of His Resurrection. It is precisely for this reason that at the end of the of Resurrection – in the Sunday Word of John Chrysostomos – we say triumphantly: Risen Christ, and life is civilized. Risen Christ, and dead no one in the grave.”
Such is the faith of the Church that is confirmed and manifested in the life of its innumerable saints. But don’t we live every day the fact that this faith rarely becomes our own experience? Don’t we lose too often and betray this new life that we received as a gift, and in fact we live as if Christ has not risen and as if this unique event does not make sense to us? And all this because of our inability, our inability to live firmly in faith, hope and love” to the level that Christ raised us to when he said: You first ask for God’s kingdom and His righteousness. We simply forget all this because we are so busy, so immersed in our daily worries and precisely because we forget, we fail. In this fullness, failure and sin, our lives become old again”, incomplete, dark and ultimately meaningless, becomes a meaningless journey to a meaningless end. We manage to forget even death and finally, completely unannounced, in the “pleasures of life” comes to us frightening, inevitable, absurd. We may occasionally admit our various sins and confess them, but we still do not mention our lives in that new life that Christ revealed and gave us. We really live as if He never came. This is the only true sin, the sin of all sins, the bottomless sorrow and tragedy of all christians by name.
If we recognise this, then we can understand what Easter is and why it needs and presupposes the Great Lent. For then we can understand that the functional tradition of the Church and the whole cycle of its sequences exist, first of all, to help us rediscover the vision and taste of this new life, which we so easily lose and betray, and then to be able to repent and return to the Church. How can we love and desire something we don’t know about? How can we put more than anything else in our lives something we’ve never seen and enjoyed? In other words: how can we, how can we seek a Kingdom for which we have no idea? The worship of the Church was from the beginning and is even now our entrance and communication with the new life of Basel. Through her functional life, the Church reveals to us those who have not heard and heard, and in the heart of man, that God has prepared them to love him” (Cor. 2.9). And at the center of this functional life, as its heart and mesuranma – like a sun where its rays penetrate everything – is Easter. Easter is the door, open every year, that leads to the glorious Kingdom of Christ, it is the foretaste of the eternal joy that awaits us, it is the glory of victory which from now on, though invisible, floods the whole building: death has been defeated.”
The whole worship of the Church is organized around Easter, which is why the operating time, i.e. the succession of seasons and holidays, becomes a journey, a pilgrimage to Easter, which is the End and which at the same time is the Beginning. It is the end of all that constitutes the old” and the beginning of “new life”, a continuous “crossing from this “world” to Basel that has been revealed in Christ.
Nevertheless, the old life, the life of sin and smallness, is not easy to overcome and change. The gospel waits and asks man to make an effort which, in the state in which man is now, is virtually unrealized. We face a challenge. The vision, the goal, the way of new life is for us a challenge that is so far beyond our capabilities!
A trip, a pilgrimage! As we begin, as we take the first step in the “great Lent”, we see – far, far away – the destination. It’s the joy of the Brilliant, it’s the entrance to the glory of The Kingdom. It is this vision, the foretaste of Easter, that makes the sadness of the Great Lent a joy, light, and our own effort a spiritual spring.” The night may be dark and long, but along the entire length of the road a secret and radiant dawn seems to shine on the horizon. Do not take us down from our expectations, Philanthropist!”
From the book “Great Lent”, p. Alexandros Smeman, Akritas Publications, Athens 1999