On Pascha We Receive an Invitation to Eternal Life
From an interview published in Trud, Pascha
2012. Valery Konovalov spoke with
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There is no death
Tikhon, why is Pascha celebrated each time not as the
anniversary of the Resurrection of Christ but as the
|Archimandrite Tiikhon (Shevkunov) Photo: V. Kornushin/Pravoslavie.ru
—The Apostle Paul made an astonishing revelation
about two thousand years ago. He said, Jesus Christ the
same yesterday, and today, and for ever (Heb. 13:8).
Christians feel the great power of these words, if their
faith is not just matter of tradition but rather a living
faith; if they also feel and live their communion with God
as the most important reality of their lives. This relates
also to the Resurrection. Unfortunately (or perhaps
fortunately) it is impossible to convey this through mere
theoretical postulates. This is just how God has ordained
it. If faith were no more than a theory, Christ’s
Church would have withered only a few years after it
began. After all, our faith is something different, it is
like a living connection between God and His people,
between God Who became man—Jesus Christ, and each
one of us Christians.
The living feeling of the pulse of eternity, which
responds in every Christian, is especially felt on the
feast of Pascha, the Resurrection. Little children are
aware until they grow up that death is something
completely foreign, incomprehensible, and unnatural to
man. We adults remember well this perception of the realty
of eternity in our childhood as one of the constants of
existence of a person only recently come into the world.
There are not many such constants for children, but to
them they are an undoubted truth. They are their
mother’s love, the daily revelation of a beautiful
world, and the sureness that their existence and the
existence of all those they love is eternal. We even have
a song that goes, "Let mama be forever, let me be
But even in adulthood, and even at the end of one’s
life, a sense of the absurdity of his own death never
leaves him up to the last minutes. Every doctor and every
priest can testify to this.This is by no means some sort
of psychological phenomenon or self-deception. It is an
astonishing reality that is open to a person.The
Resurrection of Christ tells us that we are not mistaken:
There is no death for a human soul, for a human
personality. The revelation of the life of the age to
come, the kingdom that is not of this world, and the
invitation to it is the very essence of the Gospel, the
main significance of the Resurrection, and the essence of
the matter of Jesus Christ in the human race.
—But what do we need to do, so that we can learn
to celebrate the Resurrection like that—as a
present, real event? After all, many people know the
rule—how to bless the kulich (Easter cakes), how
many times to kiss in the Paschal greeting, how to cross
yourself… But perhaps we are missing the most
—Yes, every person will have to figure that out for
himself. There is no other way. Christ only patiently,
with unfathomable love invites every person. However, He
never violates our freedom.
But if a person has not come to terms with the eternity of
his life, it means that he has not come to terms with
anything at all. And he has lived his life in vain. If a
person has not posed these "cursed questions" to
himself, according to a famous expression of Dostoevsky,
and has not made every effort to honestly answer them,
then that person has done absolutely nothing in life. Even
if he has planted a thousand trees, built an entire city,
and brought ten sons into the world. Christ has left us
these words: "What does it profit a man if he gain
the whole world but lose his own soul?"
This is the main question and revelation of Pascha. This
is the most important thing. But what color to dye the
eggs, how to bake kulich—believe me, that is
the 1025th priority.
—So what should one do to come to terms with
this—read, pray, talk to a priest?
—During the Lenten services in the churches we often
recall the ancient lines from the Bible, "Seek God,
and thy soul shall live." Of course, we must first
seek answers to the most important questions in church
with the priest. Some will say that not every priest is
able to answer accessibly and clearly. Well, I suppose in
that case you need to go find one who can.
For some a believing friend may be a helper in this
important matter. For others, it may be a book. There is
no ready recipe for this.
A spiritual father is not an indulger
—Can any spiritual father be chosen for such
talks, in the hope that God will send the right one, or
does it make sense to look around?
—A spiritual father should not be an indulger, as
they used to say in Ancient Russia. That is, he should not
indulge your sins. He should without fail be kind and
merciful, but out of love for you he should be exacting;
he should lead you to Christ according to the law of the
Gospel, and not according to the law that you yourself
dictate to him.
This is a principle question. It is the same as choosing a
doctor. You can come to an agreement with your doctor and
he will make any number of concessions for you—but
they will be your ruin. On the other hand, you can seek
and find a doctor who will heal you.
—Are the Paschal feasts a good time to make that
important step to the church?
—To those who have not yet made the church
their home I would like to wish that they might feel and
see how beautiful, good, and amazingly bright life in
Christ’s Church is, and how much of the future is
prepared for them in it. I am deeply convinced that a
spiritual father must be sought. You have to pray, and
search again. It does not make sense to approach the first
priest you meet and say: Be my spiritual father. You have
to get acquainted with him, go to confession with him, and
see how well he can answer the question specific to you.
Get to know another, then a third, and only then make your