A blessed Holy Week to Western Christians celebrating the Paschal Mystery! Here is our week in review:
This Week at Fare Forward
How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life by Cory Maxwell-Coghlan
Suffering and the Passion by Jose Mena
Fare Forward Friends and Writers
The Friday We Call Good by Chad Pecknold at First Things
The Money Factor in the Catholic Communion Battle by Peter Blair at The American Interest
Rose Trees by Kathleen Robinson at Humane Pursuits
What Lent Feels Like by Nathaniel Torrey at Humane Pursuits
Other Pieces of Note
Hours of Prayer, Again by E.J. Hutchinson at The Calvinist International
Easter’s Saving Pessimism by David Mills at The Stream
What’s Love Got to do with It? The Politics of the Cross by Stanley Hauerwas at ABC Religion and Ethics (h/t Fr. Edmund Waldstein, whose response may be found at his blog, Sancrucensis, here).
Classic Text of the Week
We will save St. John Chrysostom’s Paschal homily for the Orthodox Paschal celebrations next weekend. For now, an ancient homily on the Harrowing of Hell (h/t Joshua Gonnerman):
Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.
For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.
–an ancient Church Father on the Harrowing of Hell, attributed to Epiphanius.
And since we cannot have too much devotional reading this (Gregorian) Holy Saturday, here is a lovely hymn of Martin Luther’s via Steven Wedgeworth of The Calvinist International:
Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands
For our offenses given;
But now at God’s right hand he stands
And brings us life from heaven.
Therefore let us joyful be
And sing to God right thankfully
Loud songs of alleluia!
No son of man could conquer death,
Such ruin sin had wrought us.
No innocence was found on earth,
And therefore death had brought us
Into bondage from of old
And ever grew more strong and bold
And held us as its captive.
Christ Jesus, God’s own Son, came down,
His people to deliver;
Destroying sin, he took the crown
From death’s pale brow forever.
Stripped of pow’r, no more it reigns;
An empty form alone remains;
Its sting is lost forever.
It was a strange and dreadful strife
When life and death contended.
The victory remained with life;
The reign of death was ended.
Holy Scripture plainly says
That death is swallowed up by death;
Its sting is lost forever.
Here the true Paschal Lamb we see,
Whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursed tree—
So strong his love—to save us.
See, his blood now marks our door;
Faith points to it; death passes o’er,
And Satan cannot harm us.
So let us keep the festival
To which the Lord invites us;
Christ is himself the joy of all,
The sun that warms and lights us.
Now his grace to us imparts
Eternal sunshine to our hearts;
The night of sin is ended.
Then let us feast this Easter
Day On Christ, the bread of heaven;
The Word of grace has purged away
The old and evil leaven.
Christ alone our souls will feed;
He is our meat and drink indeed;
Faith lives upon no other!
–Christ Lay in Bonds of Death, Martin Luther