Christ is Risen!

A belated one anyway!

Forgive Your Humble Host for the delay in greetings. Holy Week was beyond intense and have only caught up with sleep this morning.

Anyway, I pray that you and yours had a wonderful Easter. (And yes, that is the appropriate title for the Feast of Feasts in English.)

Truly He is arisen!


  1. Gregory Manning says

    Actually, for me and mine, “Easter” isn’t over yet. We will be having a “wonderful Easter” for some time yet.

  2. M. Stankovich says

    I had the great honor on Great and Holy Monday of accompanying Archbishop Benjamin to the Protection of The Holy Virgin church in Santa Rosa, CA, and its Rector, V. Rev. Lawrence Margitich. This is a spectacular church in the process of having icons painted, floor-to-ceiling, on wet plaster, and simply walking in takes your breath away. Fr. Lawrence is James Taylor with a long beard; affable, warm, kind, peaceful, and full of the Paschal joy. It apparently has become the tradition that on Bright Monday when the Archbishop comes, the local women’s monasteries (one from Calistoga, and the other I do not recall) and a Skete (whose name I do not recall) all come to join him and the local parishioners for the Paschal Matins and Liturgy. It was a wonderful combination of 6 priests, 2 deacons, numerous altar servers, a beautiful choir that transitioned easily between traditional Russian & Byzantine music, approximately 40 nuns, a ton of happy children, a set of very large Russian bells and 2 very skilled young men who rang them, and a beautiful CA morning. “This is the day which the Lord has made!”

    Just to mention 2 other experiences: driving on Geary St. in San Francisco, coming up a hill at approximately 11:00 am, the newly painted cupolas of the ROCOR cathedral, “Joy of All Who Sorrow,” suddenly appears fully lit in the sun and overwhelms everything else in your line of vision. It is a profound “imprint” of the Orthodox Church on this city. And finally, I decided I would video the Pascha midnight procession at the OCA cathedral, Holy Trinity, and went outside the fence that surrounds the cathdral and stood near the stairs that descend from the church. Predictably, there were sirens, a lot of people on the street, a guy who rode by on a bike and yelled some craziness at me, and then 3 cars pulled up on Green St. beside the cathedral, and approximately 10-12 young people got out, very casually dressed, and talking very loudly with each other just as the cathedral doors were opening. I pointed up toward the doors, but before I could say anything, the bells began thunderously ringing, drowning out anything I could have said. A number of the young people took out their phones and began filming. I joined the procession, and when we returned to Green St. I saw ahead of me that someone had given each of the young people on the street – and a few more who had joined them – a lit candle to hold. As I got to the stairs and let the choir pass, I noticed that one of the young ladies had gone up the stairs with the choir, and basically was standing with her candle a yard and a half away from Archbishop Benjamin, and entered the church with the choir for Matins. If I needed any instillation of hope, or any reinforcement that the Orthodox Church is “attractive” and “attracting,” I was a rich man.

    • Michael, I’m confused. Were you there for Monday of Holy Week or Monday of Bright Week, or both?

  3. Monk James says


    It’s a great error of history, etymology, philology and ecclesiology to assert that ‘easter’ is ‘the appropriate title ‘– even in English — for our orthodox christian observance of the resurrection of Christ. This is, and has always been, The Paskha, the aramaic (Jesus’s own language) word for ‘Passover’. ‘Easter’ as no such pedigree.

    While we’re thinking about this,please let’s also correct our spelling in English from the latin ‘pascha’ and write ‘paskha’. At least then non-orthodox people won’t say ‘pasha’ when they encounter the word in print.

    I can’t imagine why George Michalopulos thought that it was good to say such a strange thing here, and I hope that he will repent his words and retract them.

    • Monk James,
      Christ is Risen!

      Brother, forgive me for any curt dismissals I sent your way in the past. I can be impatient. As to Easter: As time goes by, I become less concerned about names like “Easter” and “Christmas”. It is possible that the origin of the word “Easter” is not a pagan goddess but the Old German word “erstehen” which means “resurrection”.

      • Monk James says

        Probably not. German erstehen means ‘to purchase’ (or otherwise gain by payment), while aufstehen means ‘to arise, to stand up’.

        Speaking of ‘old’ language, Venerable Bede wotes in the 7th christian century that ‘Easter’ is derived from the name of a germanic Spring goddess, ‘Eostre.

        • If you’d read the article, in Old German, erstehen was an older form of auferstehen. However, Bede could also have been right. The thing is, it doesn’t matter. The average American does not know what “Pascha” means any more than “Easter”, unless they are told that it is the Feast of the Resurrection. Now, you could just call it “Resurrection” and then it would be obvious.

          I’m always amused by this. In the Greek church I used to go to they were careful when singing English to sing, “alleluiah” instead of the Greek way which sounds like “alliluiah”. Why bother? It doesn’t matter. Neither word is English (or Greek, for that matter) or automatically intelligible to speakers of English. If you are really concerned, I suggest the following substitutions:

          Resurrection for Easter or Pascha
          Nativity for Christmas
          Praise Yah for alleluiah
          Yahweh (God) of the Armies for Lord of Sabaoth
          Anointed (or Crowned/King, in dynamic equivalence) for Messiah/Christ
          God-bearer for Theotokos
          Emissary for Apostle
          Good News/Message for Gospel

          Or we can let sleeping dogs lie.

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          Monk James! A popular German Lutheran chorale begins, “Christus ist erstanden!” Today, we will find that “Christus ist aufERSTANDEN” is a correct version of “Christ is risen,” You and the Bede are correct, however, on the origins of the term “Easter.”

    • Sean Richardson says

      As a convert to Orthodoxy, I’ve always felt very uncomfortable with the word “Pascha”, and the thought of changing that to “Paskha” makes it even worse. From the time I was born, many decades ago, the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior has always been Easter. It is a perfectly reasonable word, because it is the word that is used and understood within an American ethos. Christianity has a long tradition of Christianizing non-Christian words, events, holidays, etc. Just because something is older, does not mean that it’s more useful or can convey meaning better. For me, personally, I am very comfortable with saying and responding to “Christ is Risen”, but using the word Pascha, although I know what it means and from whence it derives, is just awkward. Thank you George … Happy Easter to you, in the joy of the Resurrection.

      • Monk James says

        Describing the word paskha as awkward is highly subjective sentiment.

        That the word ‘Easter’ is NOT specifically a reference to the resurrection of Christ is well attested at ACTS 12:4, at least in the ‘Authorised(King James) Version’ of the Bible, where it means ‘Passover’ — and is the only appearance of ‘Easter’ in the entire KJV.

        This is significant because the greek word at this location is paskha, perhaps even more so since the KJV consistently renders hebrew pesakh as ‘Passover’.

        Now and then, it’s good for us to get out of our comfort zones to learn new and better ways of being, knowing, and doing, and not bring hindrances from our former delusions with us as we embrace the fullness of the authentically orthodox catholic christian Tradition.

      • Gregory Manning says

        As a convert to Orthodoxy I’ve always felt uncomfortable having to confess my sins. Actually, I feel that calling them “sins” has very negative connotations which I personally find hurtful. And about that fasting…..

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        There’s nothing wrong with the word “Easter”. We speak the English language, and this is the word in English. I don’t know, I could look it up, but I’d guess there was an Old English version of the term when England was Orthodox, since the term is Germanic, and England was “Germanic” for centuries while Orthodox.

        It’s linguistic hair-splitting. I do recognize that there are those to whom hair-splitting is serious business.

        • It is virtually 100% certain that it was called Easter throughout the time of Orthodoxy in early England. Had the term been post-schism, the English would have taken on a Norman/French word, rather than a Germanic one.

          Hair-splitting is just what some people need in order to have a reason to get up in the morning. Happy Easter, everyone. Christ is risen!

    • Let’s get it really right. Πάσχα

      • Or פסחא as Rabban Yeshua and his band of Aramaic speakers would have called it.

  4. Paskha is made of cheese and butter.
    Easter is what my Roman Catholic cousin celebrates.
    Pascha is the Orthodox Christian feast of the Resurrection of Christ.

    Thus things shall remain at my parish and in my home!

  5. Pascha, Paskha, Easter, Pesach, Passover — whatever you want to call it, the sweet Resurrection rose is sweet. Glory to God, this has been a glorious feast. My parish was as radiant this year as it ever has been.

    The joy of the Feast to all of you.

  6. Carl Kraeff says

    It seems that “Easter” is used only in the English and German languages. Here is a listing that breaks the various usages into four basic concepts:

    Easter : Easter (English), Ostern (German)

    Passover: Pashke (Albanian), Пасха (Bulgarian), Påske (Danish), Paasen, Paasfeest (Dutch), Pääsiäinen (Finnish), Pâques (French), Pascua (Galician), Πάσχα (Greek), Pasqua (Italian), Páscoa (Portuguese), Paști (Romanian), Пасха (Russian), Pascua (Spanish), Pasg (Welch)

    Great Day/Night: Вялікдзень (Belorussian), Великден (Bulgarian), Velikonoční (Czech), Велигден (Macedonian), Wielkanoc (Polish), Veľká noc (Slovak), Velikonočni (Slovenian), Великодній (Ukrainian)

    Resurrection: Vaskrs (Bosnian), Uskrs (Croatian), Ускрс (Serbian)

    Of the four, only “Easter” does not seem to have obvious religious connotations, unless one accepts the theory that it was based on a Germanic deity who was celebrated in the Spring or that it comes from the German word “erstehen” that means resurrection.

  7. Michael Warren says

    PASCHA in the East and in the West

    +Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos)

    The Orthodox Church is the Church of the Resurrection, because it gives prominence to Christ’s victory over death. Pascha is the overcoming of death, the passage of the Word to the human heart and not the reduction of the heart to human reason and senses. When one examines the “ethos” of Orthodoxy, one finds that it confers the “spirit” and life that comes out of the Tomb: the

    “life in the tomb”

    as the hymns say. It is a blaze of light and the ecstasy of life. This is where the difference between western Christianity and the Orthodox Church can be seen: Saint Francis, in Kazantzakis’ biography, reaches the highest degree of the spiritual life by feeling “God crucified” in his body. He said of this:

    “It is a cross, Brother Leone, man’s body is a cross – open your arms and you will see, God is crucified upon it”.

    And he prayed,

    “My Christ, my love, I ask one favour of you, one favour for me before I die – that I may feel in my body and soul, as far as possible, Your pain and Your Holy passion…”

    He reached the point of seeing the wounds of the Cross on his body, and when he asked for another, greater, experience, he heard a divine voice saying:

    “Do not ask for more; this is where man’s ascent ends – at the Crucifixion!”

    On the other hand, the Orthodox saint, St. Silouan the Athonite, saw the Resurrected Christ and experienced Pascha within his being and within creation. Following the vision of Christ resurrected he said: “I was living in a paschal feast. Everything was beautiful; the world was grand, people were pleasing, nature was unspeakably lovely, the body changed and became light, strength was added… the soul overflowed with joy; it had compassion on people and prayed for the whole world.”

    This difference between Western and Eastern thinking is seen in the difference between Jean-Paul Sartre and St. Seraphim of Sarov. The former (Sartre), disillusioned by western Christianity said:

    “The other is my hell!”.

    The latter (St Seraphim of Sarov) addressed everyone who met him with the greeting:

    “Christ is Risen, my joy”.

    Each and every ‘other’ is not ‘different’ a ‘stranger’ a ‘foreigner’, but a brother. The experience of the Resurrection overcomes death, neutralises selfishness, and abolishes Hades. Otherwise, man is enclosed in his own personal hell.

    In celebrating “our Pascha” as

    “the feast of feasts”

    and as

    “the death of death, the first-fruits of another life that is eternal”

    we feel within ourselves and around ourselves the scent of spiritual death, of life that is before the Resurrection of Christ. We live this biological life simply for survival, but, indeed, as yet mortal. We chant “Christ is Risen!”, we celebrate on the outside, but the bitterness of Hades rules within us, often even in church life. The remembrance of death is bitter, so too is the pain of loneliness. These poisonous constraints, even in the field of Christianity are bitter; even in the Church itself, which continues to be the Church of the Resurrection and to preach the mystery of the Resurrection.

    It is of course our various passions that keep us away from the existential festival of life. Various pressures also make Church life feel different from this. Christians divided by various political considerations, the Orthodox with various rivalries between themselves; these do not remind us of the Resurrected Christ at all.

    So, the crucifixion of the Orthodox Church continues. The wounds of the Cross of the Church in Jerusalem, from its internal weaknesses and external influences blacken the “Holy Fire” that comes from the Sepulchre of Christ. The political opportunism, the nationalistic racists with their all too human passions do not allow the joy of the Resurrection to shine out as light to the people round about.

    The domineering powers that can be seen in all Christian confessions drain away the “Joy to all”, the “Peace unto you”, the “be of good cheer”, because they are ruled by other alien powers, foreign to the “spirit” of the Resurrected Christ. Unfortunately, politics, often in ecclesiastical dress, are the nails of the crucified Church, the bride of the Resurrected Christ together with the worldly-led pressures that take place in the name of the term “mother Church”…

    Our Pascha, as the victory over death and the experience of life, is lived out today despite these secular-minded powers and tendencies. It is experienced by those who live humbly and existentially within the sphere of the Church, away from secularisation, racism and political considerations and can be clearly seen in the relics of saints.

    Normally, the bodies of those saints that have fallen asleep, which are a just mass of cells, within which are included the cells for ageing, should rot away. However, the power and grace of the Resurrection does not let them break up; something which proves they have overcome death. The saint is a person who is asleep awaiting the last wake up call.

    This then is our Pascha, as a mystery of the Resurrection, and not as a Christianity of religiosity with the passions of the love of precedence, of division and of rivalry. ‘Our Pascha’ cannot be replaced by ‘our Religion’, which lives under the rule of death. The Resurrected Christ cannot be made up out of the political expressions of Christianity and the power of the Resurrection cannot fit within the so-called “Christian States”. It is experienced in a life beyond the imagination, thinking and speaking; transfigured by Divine Light, with a loving desire for God and with humility.

    • M. Stankovich says

      Heaven knows if this long quotation is actually from Metropolitan Hierotheos, mostly from him and bit from you, mostly from you and a bit from him, or all from you. Nevertheless, whomever wrote it obviously had a bit of time on their hands that day. As I wrote in another thread, on that day “when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:28), I strongly suspect that in the joy of the never-ending day of the Kingdom, should we be so fortunate to enter into the joy of the Master, and into the full and everlasting reality of the Resurrection of Christ our Savior, neither the Saints nor the angels in heaven will ever recall this conversation having taken place.

      And by way of example, the OED offers us the timely commentary of John Donne: “Busie old foole, unruly Sunne, sawcy pedantique wretch, goe chide Late schoole boyes.”

      • Jeff Cahill says

        Heaven has nothing to do with your envy of Mr. Warren. Something sick and pathetic does. For the record, your sources and facts have been suspect, even outright fabricated. Mr. Warren’s have been legit, even when your mean girls’ club tried to pull a fast one on a quote you hid only to provide yourselves once your charade was up. Pathetic.

  8. Thank you for demonstrating the wide variety of ways that the feast is named, although I would disagree that Easter is any less religious in connotation than “Great Night/Day.”

    “Ostern” and “Easter” both intrinsically refer to the east — the place of the rising of the sun, which is iconography in nature itself of the resurrection, and growing up as a Protestant, that was how I understood the derivation of the word (although it wasn’t described as iconography, of course). Even the purported German goddess was a dawn goddess, which makes it unsurprising that early Christian missionaries would have “baptized” that feast and linked it to the resurrection of Christ, if that story is true. If it is pagan to make such associations between nature and events related to the incarnation of Christ, then we’d better rewrite the troparion for the Nativity of Christ.

    Both in the east and in the west, the timing of our services — whether our long services that start at midnight and end closer to dawn than to bedtime, or the traditional western sunrise service of Easter — tap into the interplay of the concept of the dawn as an image of the resurrection and the actual peri-dawn hours when the women discovered the empty tomb.

    Easter is a name that by long association means, “the day when we commemorate the resurrection of Christ.” When I am in my own family and with Orthodox friends, it is Pascha, and when I speak to non-Orthodox family and friends, I refer to it as “our Easter,” since they instantly know what that means — to do anything else would be senseless beating around the bush. There is no need to be pedantic about what the feast “must” and “may not” be called.

    • Monk James says

      Christ is risen, truly risen!

      As someone who has occasionally been accused of being ‘pedantic’ by people who just can’t stand to learn anything different from their cherished assumptions, I resist Edward’s suggestion that we ‘dumb down’ our legitimate expressions of the authentically orthodox catholic christian Tradition (which we all professed to receive) rather than kindly and gently bring our heterodox christian relatives and friends up to the standards which we have all embraced.

      This includes liturgical and theological vocabulary.

      • And the Liturgy should only be chanted in Koine Greek.

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          Actually both the Bible AND the Liturgy MUST be studied and learned in the original Greek. I am all for translations so as to make the Bible and our Services accessible to people, but they must be studied in the original Greek, and in the case of the Bible NO DOCTRINE WHATSOEVER must be based off of an English or other translation.

          In the case of the Septuagint this gets a little tricky as it is a translation itself, but the Church has guided us in its use and proclaimed it’s accuracy so to that extent its “OUR” original language bible for the OT.

          However, I personally believe we should use ALL Biblical versions from Hebrew, to Greek, to Aramaic, to Latin in the Old Testament at arriving at the original autograph of the OT.

          However, what has been sanctioned by the Church under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit for the edification of the Christian faithful AND what was the OT Original form are two different things. See Psalm 39(40) or Proverbs 11:31 on this matter. The late Fr. Thomas Hopko touches on this distinction in some of his Ancient Faith Radio podcasts.


    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      I say both. When I am with other Orthodox people, especially Greeks, its Pascha. With Non-Orthodox its “Easter” or “our Easter.” Everybody knows what you are talking about.


      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        Then there’s Wester Neaster and Easter Neaster, as my kids used to say….

        • Oh, thank you! How sweet! I’m imagining kids around 4 to 8 years of age saying this, when language acquisition is almost entirely by ear.

          Wester Neaster. Easter Neaster. I’ll have to remember those next year. 🙂

  9. Oh Timothy... says

    “If anyone … does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth… From such withdraw yourself.”

  10. Lord help us! Forget about Orthodox unity in America. We can’t even wish each other a blessed feast of the Lord’s resurrection without quibbling over the wording!

  11. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    Easter is the one with the Easter Bunny and Fifth Ave Parades and hats. Pascha is mostly religious.

  12. Michael Warren says

    Liturgically speaking, the Feast of the Resurrection in both East and West was known as “Pascha” until the Reformation. Even after the Reformation, liturgical Protestant churches tended to use the word “pascha” in various forms, “paschal lamb,” “paschal supper,” etc. In England and other Germanic countries, a form of the word “Easter” had been popularly employed centuries prior to the schism. It is a local term for the Feast of the Resurrection and valid. In Slavic countries, papist and Orthodox, a popular word is also used in reference to the Feast of the Resurrection, “Velikden,” “great day.” And it is not uncommon to be greeted “With the Great Day!” in much the same way people say, “Happy Easter!”

    For what it is worth, the customs and folklore of Pascha actually meld very well as there seem to be common practices and observances from East to West, to colored eggs, Easter baskets, Easter candles, Easter hams, Easter breads, even Easter vigils. Unfortunately, these customs and folklore have been superseded in the West and lost at an accelerated pace, especially in the last century. From that perspective, if Orthodox employ use of the term “Pascha” along with “Easter” melding the folklore of Western Easter customs with our own various ethnic traditions, what will emerge is a local understanding of Pascha and a reChristianization of Easter. Just because a term is Western doesn’t mean it lacks a place in Orthodoxy, especially in Orthodox mission in the West.

    Our very Paschal greeting had a cognate in the West and was used well after the Reformation with different redactions, CHRIST is Risen! There are at least two Western, Latin forms of this greeting, “CHRISTUS Surrexit!” and “CHRISTUS Resurrexit!” The response is virtually the same as in the East, save with the addition of “Alleluia” (Western liturgics call for alleluias to be ommitted during Lent until Pascha, thereafter their singing are directed to be festive in gratitude and Paschal joy). “Vere Surrexit, Alleluia!” “Vere Resurrexit, Alleluia!” … “Indeed (or Truly) HE is Risen, Alleluia!”

    • Monk James says

      My thanks to Michael Warren for this post.

      In response, I offer this translation of the paschal hymn into Latin:

      Christus resurrectus e mortuis
      morte mortem conculcans,
      et illis in sepulcris vitam donans.

      Christ is risen from the dead,
      by( His) death trampling Death,
      and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

      And, because He bestowed upon us everlasting life,
      we adore His third-day resurrection.

  13. Michael Warren says

    Thank you very much, Father. CHRIST is Risen!

    Although I must confess I have affections for Latin as a liturgical language, outside of the Western Rite, and highly appraise Western Orthodoxy as it existed prior to the schism. I tend to endorse Romanesque architecture and iconography as well as Western chant and polyphony along with veneration of British and other Western Saints as a necessary constituency in formulating a native North American Orthodoxy. Eastern in Rite. I believe that an Anglo-American orientation needs to be the root of native, non-assimilationist Orthodoxy, which grafts the various local, ethnic traditions on, melding from them what can emerge as our local church tradition.

    Gregorian chant for me is complementary to Znamenny, Milanese to Demestvenny, Mozarabic and Old Roman to Byzantine. DeVictoria, Josquin Deprez, Palestrina, Byrd, et al. would be marvelous to set to Orthodox hymnography. Frankish Romanesque and Northern Stave Church architecture easily melds into Orthodox practice. French and Italian Romanesque iconography is just natively Western and Orthodox; then there are the works of masters like Cinnabue and Duccio. Native, local Orthodoxy is just a matter of effort and post assimilationist Renewal.

    I might even go so far as to say that the Benedictine rule and divine office might be a worthy consideration for native monasticism and liturgical reform leading to our own local horologion.

    In other words, East versus West must be overcome in marriage of East and West to reestablish and renew Orthodoxy in the Western diaspora. We shouldn’t be hating everything that is Western as a reflex (and then baiting Old Calendarism no less). We should be reestablishing the Orthodoxy of what we receive in the West and synergizing it with our Eastern Orthodox traditions.

  14. Cynthia mae Curran says

    Well, being a westerner, I believe because most of the events outside of the supernatural part of the New Testament can be verified, there was even a Quirtius but the census points about 7 years different from the bible but at least he was a governor of Syria. In orthodox thinking unlike Catholic or Protestant thinking its less on matching the historically of persons but being a westerner a lot of folks like Herod, Herod, Antipas, Pilate are referred too in other ancient sources like Josephus.