Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit
Franciscans of Canada - Franciscains du Canada
Ordo Fratrum Minorum
Dear brothers and sisters,
Happy Easter! For more than a year, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to maintain physical distance from each other, stay isolated, and put on hold many religious services and community gatherings that help to nurture close ties among us.
Thankfully, with Easter 2021, despite the appearance of a third wave of infections, a light of hope linked to the distribution of vaccines allows us to glimpse the possibility that our activities can resume – in the near future, we hope.
The 14th-century fresco reproduced above – whose Greek title is Anastasis (raising) – seems to me especially significant during this Easter season. Located in the funeral chapel of the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, Istanbul, it depicts the Risen Christ descending into hell and raising all men and women of goodwill, represented by Adam and Eve, whom he holds by the hand.
At Easter, all humanity awaiting salvation is thus brought into the Light of the Risen Christ, and all are raised to the dignity of children of God and destined for life. No suffering and no evil can conquer the love of God in Christ Jesus his Son. The zeal with which Christ leads our first parents out of darkness makes clear the glory of the resurrection and the universality of salvation!
I leave you with the words of Saint John Chrysostom (349–407), who attests to the radicality of the saving power of the resurrection. May this excerpt from his Paschal Sermon, or Hieratikon, nurture hope in us:
If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast.
If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward.
If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast.
If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof.
If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing.
If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honour, will accept the last even as the first;
He gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.
And He shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one He gives, and upon the other He bestows gifts.
And He both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honours the acts and praises the offering.
Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord!
Happy reading and blessings on your Easter journey!
Friar Pierre Charland, OFM
Franciscans of Canada