On Wednesday of the sixth week of Pascha, we celebrate the Apodosis or Leavetaking of the Feast of Feasts – Holy Pascha.
Saint John (Maximovitch) of San Francisco
….The Giver of Life doth lead men out of hell this day, and up-lifteth them to Heaven; Scattering and dispersing the dark and gloomy tempest of sin, Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, shone forth, gleaming not in the hearts and souls of the Apostles only, but in those of all who draw near to Him with faith, salvation seeking.“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed,” Christ sayeth; “blessed are those who have perceived Me not with bodily eyes, but with the eyes of the heart.”
It was with his spiritual eyes that Archdeacon Stephan, the Proto-martyr, saw the heavens opened and the Lord Jesus at the right hand of God the Father. It was with eyes of faith that the risen Lord was beheld by Great-martyr George the Trophy-bearer and by all the other martyrs who laid down their earthly lives for Christ, in order that they might receive from Him life eternal. It was upon Him that podvizhniki [“athletes”-of-the-spirit] did fix their spiritual gaze; despising earthly pleasures, they were crowned in the heavens with glory unfading.
But neither the scribes nor the pharisees, His enemies, saw the resurrected Christ. Nor did the tormentors of the martyrs see Him, strengthening the martyrs. Neither did, nor do, all those whose spiritual gaze is dimmed by unbelief, whose heart is befouled with sins and vices, whose will is directed only toward the earthly, ever see the light of the glory of the risen Christ.
Let us cleanse our hearts from all filth and foulness, and our spiritual eyes will be enlightened.
The light of Christ’s Resurrection will flood and fill our souls, in like manner as the Church of the Resurrection, yearly, throughout the centuries, on Great Saturday, is illumined with light when the Orthodox — and only the Orthodox Patriarch receives the Heavenly Fire.
Let us lift up our hearts! Let us forsake everything worldly; let us rejoice in this day and be exceeding glad!
Christ is risen from the dead, having trampled death by death.
Christ is risen!
Archbishop John, the Pascha of Christ, 1956, Paris
…Those regenerated by grace — if they continue in it to the end of their earthly life, and follow that path indicated by Christ, the True Light — will be deemed worthy of receiving from Him a new gift: they will delight eternally in the Kingdom of the Heavenly Father through beholding the glory of His Only-begotten Son, a glory surpassing everything in the world, and they will experience ineffable joy and blessedness…
From the Sermons of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco
O Only-begotten Son and Word of God, Who art immortal,…
trampling upon death by death, Thou Who art One of the Holy Trinity,
glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us.