By Mary Sayad

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    EASTER SEASON

    March 2008

    The New Light

    Lord Jesus Christ, our God, Source of Life and Immortality, Eternal Light born of Eternal Light, Immortal Light, invisible, incomprehensible, unchanging and unchangeable: You are the True Light who dwell in the Unapproachable Light and shine forth from Him; You are the Light of the Father’s glory and its radiance; You are the Light of the heavenly hosts and of every man who comes into this world. O Saviour, You established a law for the first man who lived in the state of light, in order to guide him and lead him to the new world of heaven and incite him to grow in the love of eternal life. But he transgressed that law, and fell from that great glory in which You had established Him, and by his fall he dealt death to himself and estranged himself from You, O Glorious Light! But You, O Lord, the Lover of Mankind, in your great bounty and infinite mercy, submitted Yourself to death and condescended to share the lowliness of us wretched sinners, in order to lead us back to that former glory and light from which we had fallen away. For the sake of us transgressors of your divine law, You accepted to be buried, to go down into Hades, to the depths of the earth. Then, O Lord, You destroyed the gates of death, delivering and raising up those who had been chained in its darkness; You filled our human nature with the light of your resurrection bestowing upon the world a new life and a new light brighter than the sun. Merciful as You are, You restored our human nature to its former beauty and to that glorious light from which we had been exiled.

    Now, O Lord and God, our Saviour Jesus Christ, grant spiritual and physical light to our minds and hearts that had been blinded with worldly errors; enlighten us as You enlightened the holy Marys and the holy women who came to your tomb with spices, so they could sprinkle your holy body, the source of life. Fill our hearts with your joy; fill our souls with your tranquility, with your peace, with the happiness that comes from You. Since you have raised us up and delivered us from the stain of our sins and the darkness of our transgressions, make us worthy in your loving kindness to kindle our lamps with today’s light, the symbol of your radiant and glorious resurrection.

    Let us sing a hymn of praise to the Virgin Mary,Let us sing a hymn of praise to the Virgin Mary, glory of the whole world. She was herself formed by human seed, yet she became the Mother of the Master, the gate of heaven, the theme of the angels; hymn and the beauty of the faithful. She indeed tore down the wall of enmity between God and men and brought peace in its place and thus opened the kingdom of heaven. Let us, therefore cling fast to her for she is the anchor of faith; and let us receive as our stronghold the Lord who was born of her. Be of good cheer now and have confidence, O people of God, for He will fight our enemies for us: He is all powerful.

    ******Above prayers taken from The Great and Holy Pascha booklet from St. Ann’s Melkite Catholic Church located in West Paterson, New Jersey ******

    In the Byzantine Churches, icons represent Our Blessed Mother, (in Greek, the Theotokos or God Bearer), Christ, Prophets, Apostles and the angels and saints . Byzantine Churches do not have statues. Icons are artistically arranged by skilled artisans and are often crafted from small colorful glass squares. These colorful icons surround the interior of the Church walls and its dome. In addition, icons are frequently displayed by the exterior doors of the Churches. Smaller painted icons decorate and bless homes.

    For centuries, icons have been called “Windows into Heaven.” because through them we receive a vision of the spiritual world.

    The above icon depicts the Risen Christ. Christ is exiting the tomb and holding His cross in His left hand. He is rescuing a soul from the dead with His right hand. Our Blessed Mother, the Theotokos, is observing him and directing us to him.

    In the upper left hand corner is the word “Resurrection” written in Greek. During the entire Easter season, Byzantine and Orthodox Catholics around the world greet each other with the following phrase: “Christ Is Risen! He is Truly Risen!”

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    Beloved Friends,

    To you and your families,“Christ Is Risen! He is Truly Risen!”.

    Your companion in prayer,

    Mary

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