See the latest (and last) Lady’s Night.

See the latest (and last) Lady’s Night.

LADY’S NIGHT - The Encounter

Happy Easter, everyone!  I apologize for my tardiness in posting this Lady’s Night that was originally intended for Easter Sunday.  I know that I missed my target date (and the entire Octave!), but at least we’re still in the Easter Season.

Recall from my previous posts that in many Catholic countries, Holy Week is marked by processions (as in Sevilla and Jerez de la Frontera, Spain) where the faithful bear life-size statues posed in vignettes of Christ’s final moments through the streets of town as a public expression of faith.  It is a sorrowful occasion where Nazarenos dress in the traditional garb of a penitent and the haunting strains of the mournful saeta float through the air. 

These statues, these processions are signs that speak to the human heart in ways that words cannot.  They remind the community that we have sinned and have lost the friendship of God; yet, they also give a most eloquent testimony that He would rather die that spend eternity without us.

As God’s little children, to whom did we turn as we walked the Via Crucis of our own lives, as we walked it in community about a month ago?  We mourned with and were comforted by the Blessed Mother whose Immaculate Heart—as prophesied by Simeon (cf. Luke 2:35)—was pierced by sorrow as with a sword. 

However, Our Lady of Sorrows who stood at the foot of the cross and witness the death of her Child would also witness the empty tomb.  On Good Friday, our Mother embraced the cross and crown, the nails and reed to share in the suffering of her dying Son and, in union with Him, surrender all to the Father’s will.  She truly taught us how to kiss the cross in bearing an agony so incredibly intense and profound. Likewise, who can ever imagine the ecstatic joy that she experienced on Easter Sunday when Life triumphed over death, Light defeated darkness, and when Love conquered all?  The Glorious follows the Sorrowful as dawn proceeds the night.

Joy is one of the marks of a Christian, for we are indeed Easter people.  Who better to give us an example of a joyful life of a Christian than the very first disciple of Christ, Our Lady.  At that first Easter encounter, the words of her Magnificat seem to be fulfilled:  “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior” (Luke 1:46-47).

In the Regina Caeli, which replaces the Angelus in the Easter Season, we recall the glorious Resurrection of Jesus and seek to share His Mother’s joy:

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

There is an ancient tradition, popular especially among Franciscans, which holds that, although it is not recorded in the Gospels, Jesus first appeared to His Mother after the Resurrection.  In the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, there is even a Chapel of the Apparition to commemorate this event.

Bl. John Paul the Great spoke of this pious tradition in his address at the General Audience on May 21, 2997.

The expectation felt on Holy Saturday is one of the loftiest moments of faith for the Mother of the Lord: in the darkness that envelops the world, she entrusts herself fully to the God of life, and thinking back to the words of her Son, she hopes in the fulfilment of the divine promises.

The Gospels mention various appearances of the risen Christ, but not a meeting between Jesus and his Mother. This silence must not lead to the conclusion that after the Resurrection Christ did not appear to Mary; rather it invites us to seek the reasons why the Evangelists made such a choice.

On the supposition of an “omission”, this silence could be attributed to the fact that what is necessary for our saving knowledge was entrusted to the word of those “chosen by God as witnesses” (Acts 10:41), that is, the Apostles, who gave their testimony of the Lord Jesus’ Resurrection “with great power” (cf. Acts 4:33). Before appearing to them, the Risen One had appeared to several faithful women because of their ecclesial function: “Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (Mt 28:10).

If the authors of the New Testament do not speak of the Mother’s encounter with her risen Son, this can perhaps be attributed to the fact that such a witness would have been considered too biased by those who denied the Lord’s Resurrection, and therefore not worthy of belief…

It seems reasonable to think that Mary, as the image and model of the Church which waits for the Risen One and meets him in the group of disciples during his Easter appearances, had had a personal contact with her risen Son, so that she too could delight in the fullness of paschal joy.

Present at Calvary on Good Friday (cf. Jn 19:25) and in the Upper Room on Pentecost (cf. Acts 1:14), the Blessed Virgin too was probably a privileged witness of Christ’s Resurrection, completing in this way her participation in all the essential moments of the paschal mystery. Welcoming the risen Jesus, Mary is also a sign and an anticipation of humanity, which hopes to achieve its [fulfillment] through the resurrection of the dead.

Thus, it is fitting that there should be one more procession following the somber pasos of Holy Week. This time, instead of recalling to mind the 4th Station of the Cross, the people announce the Risen Christ by enacting this first Easter encounter between Mother and Son.  In fact, you might remember this video and this teaser pic.

On Easter morning, two processions the leave church and follow different routes:  one carries an image of our Risen Savior, the other bears a statue of Our Lady, still wearing the black mantle of sorrow.  At a designated time and location (usually the main street or plaza), the two processions meet.  Sometimes an image of St. John or St. Peter is carried back and forth between the two processions as they make their way towards each other, expressing our anticipation for this reunion after the tomb.

Then in some communities, especially in Italy, as Our Lady rounds the corner and first spots her living Son, she does as any mother would do:  she runs to Him, casting off her cloak of sadness.  Depending on the local custom, Jesus may also run towards His Mother as well. 

The streets that only days before witnessed the faithful carry an image of their crucified Savior in a slow and mournful procession as in a funeral march, now tremble beneath the running feet of those overflowing with Pascal joy in encountering the Risen Lord.

There are some who treat such examples of popular piety as mere quaint, folksy customs for old women and simple people, but I think there is some deep spiritual significance in these outward expressions of faith.

Such beautiful processions depicting the Easter encounter of Mary and Jesus communicate more than just a natural, familial response between a mother and her son.  They signify the relationship of the Church and her Risen Bridegroom.  Such processions speak of our desire to encounter and embrace our God and to continue living with Him forever even after the grave has swallowed our mortal bodies. 

Like our Blessed Mother, the Resurrection has filled us with great joy.  For as the psalmist joyfully sings, “You changed my mourning into dancing; you took off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness” (Psalm 30:12).  What else could be our response but to imitate her reaction in seeing her glorified Son?  Easter is a time to cast off our sluggish spirits and sinful habits which weigh our feet down.  Now, is the time to fly towards Jesus with wings of faith, as St. Paul says, like runners in a marathon who run, not aimlessly, but so as to win the race (cf 1 Cor 9:24, 26).

Although as I’ve said before, this post-Resurrection meeting between Jesus and His Mother is not mentioned in scripture, the Gospels do record other people’s reaction to the news of the empty tomb. 

In his homily for Easter Sunday, His Excellency, Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles, points out that everyone in John’s Resurrection narrative seems to be running.  When Mary Magdalene discovers the stone of the tomb rolled away and Jesus’ body gone, she runs to tell the other disciples (cf. John 20:2).  At this astonishing news, St. John and St. Peter literally race to the tomb to see for themselves (cf. John 20:4). 

Why do they run?

First, their sprinting feet communicate their excitement and astonishment, as Archbishop Gomez states in his homily.  As St. Mary Magdalene’s wondrous news reaches the ears of St. John and St. Peter, I like to imagine that their hearts literally lift them to their feet and draw them to the tomb that they may see and believe (cf John 20:8).

They run because they have the first glimpses of the reality of the Resurrection.  They run because they can taste the victory won by Christ and are eager to experience first hand the glory of His triumph over sin and even over death itself.  They run because they are filled with hope that their Friend, their Lord and Savior, is truly alive again.

Psalm 42 very poetically speaks of our desire for God and the disciple’s desire to encounter the Risen Christ:  “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God” (Psalm 42:2).  Water is a basic necessity for life; without it, we die.  If you were in a desert without water, and you saw an oasis in the distance, what would be your response?  Probably you would muster all the energy you had left and run to the life-giving spring.  Psalm 18 also says that God has given us “feet like a deer’s” (Psalm 18:34); that is, He gives us the means and motivation to run to Him who is the Living Water, our Refreshment, our Salvation, and our Hope. 

Therefore, like St. Mary Magdalene, St. Peter, St. John, and Our Lady, let us run to encounter the Risen Lord.  Apathy and complacency may attempt to slow us down, and Satan will try to steal our joy, but keep running; set your gaze on the empty tomb and the glorious cross, and run with all your strength.  However, if by chance you should stumble or fall, know that our Victorious Savior is running towards us as the father of the Prodigal Son ran towards his repentant child the moment he caught sight of him walking towards home (cf. Luke 15:20). 

[Photos:  not mine]

From Our Lady of Sorrows to La Virgen de la Alegria (The Virgin of Joy).  I love seeing our Mama smile; she looks so beautiful.
[Photo:  from Artencodoba]

From Our Lady of Sorrows to La Virgen de la Alegria (The Virgin of Joy).  I love seeing our Mama smile; she looks so beautiful.

[Photo:  from Artencodoba]

FRIDAY JAM - Alive Again by Matt Maher

This is my current post-Confession anthem and one of my favorite songs that I associate with Easter.  What I find most fitting to this glorious liturgical Season is the song’s reference to breathing.  Of course, we all know that without breath, there is no life.  Breathing is a necessary function that we often take for granted.  We go about our days without thinking about it; we even do it while we’re sleeping.  

Jesus, having taken on our human body, knows what it is like to take his first breath in this world after 9 months growing in Mary’s womb.  He also knows what it is like to have his breath taken away as He hung on the cross. 

Many scientists think that despite the massive blood loss and brutal beatings Christ endured, the main cause of His death was a slow asphyxiation—Our Lord basically suffocated to death.  Since His arms were spread out, His rib cage was constrained making it difficult to exhale, and in order to breath, He had to raise Himself up slightly, putting pressure on His nailed feet and hands.  Thus, Jesus gives greater importance to His Seven Last Words, His most eloquent sermon, due to the extreme pain that it caused Him to speak from the cross.

The Gospels describe the exact moment of Jesus’ death slightly differently:

Matthew says, “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit” (Mt 27:50).

John says, “…he said, ‘it is finished.’  And bowing his head, he handed over his spirit” (Jn 19:30).

However Mark and Luke tell of Jesus’ death by saying that He “breathed his last" (Mk 15:37; Lk 23:46).  What is significant, I think, is that as a doctor, St. Luke describes Jesus’ death in physiological terms.

Sometimes, people speak of the Resurrection as a mere metaphor, an allegory of rebirth like the mythical phoenix.  However, in order to truly be Easter People, Jesus must have truly died, not just in a metaphorical sense, but in a real, biological sense.

Jesus was truly dead.  His Sacred Heart did not pump blood; the brain waves of our omniscient God ceased; and as Mark and Luke note, He stopped breathing.  Christ has died. 

For 2 days His lungs did not take in oxygen.  Then something happened on the third day:  He breathed again!  Christ’s body truly came back to life!

As the First Cause, God, our Creator, “formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Gen 2:7).  The Father shared with us His breath and gave us life. 

After, we had fallen, Jesus came to share with us His breath in the Resurrection, and His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, in order to give us life everlasting. 

And as the bishop breathes on the Holy Chrism during its consecration, the Holy Spirit—who blew over the waters at the Creation and over the Apostles at Pentecost—fills us with His breath, allowing us to participate in the divine life of God here on earth through the Sacraments.

This song is my post-Confession anthem because when I am in sin, particularly in a state of mortal sin, I have rejected God’s friendship; I am dead.  But thanks to our merciful Savior who was suffocated on the cross, Christ has “shattered my darkness, washed away my blindness; now I’m breathing in and breathing out.  I’m alive again!

Though we might not always be aware of it, each breath that we take is truly a blessing, for it is a sign that we have life.  Let us be grateful for this gift because each breath is willed by God; every inhale and exhale of air reminds us that we, too, are willed and loved.

Then, may we we use our breath to glorify God and share this love with others (as Catholic musician, Matt Maher, has done in this song).


I woke up in darkness
surrounded by silence
oh where, where have I gone?

I woke to reality
losing its grip on me
oh where, where have I gone?

Cause I can see the light
before I see the sunrise

Chorus
You called and you shouted
broke through my deafness
now I’m breathing in
and breathing out
I’m alive again!

You shattered my darkness
washed away my blindness
now I’m breathing in
and breathing out
I’m alive again!

Late have I loved you
you waited for me,
I searched for you…
what took me so long?

I was looking outside
as if love would ever want to hide
I’m finding I was wrong

Cause I can feel the wind
before it hits my skin

Bridge
Cause I want you!
Yes, I want you,
I need you
And I’ll do what ever I have to
Just to get through
cause I love you
Yeah, I love you!



(SIDE NOTE:  You may know that the Hawaiian word, “Aloha,” means both “hello” and goodbye”.  However, it is also an expression of love.  “Alo” means “presence”, “face”, or “share”.  “Ha” is the “breath of life”.  In order to pronounce this word, you literally have to breathe out.  Aloha Ke Akua, God is Love:  He who shares with us His breath of life.)

FRIDAY JAM - I Will Rise by Chris Tomlin

Happy Easter!!!  Christ is risen, alleluia!

For your Easter Friday, here is a great song by the amazing lyrical storyteller, Chris Tomlin.  One of the things that I enjoy about his songs is the richness of Christian imagery that he uses. 

For example, he draws inspiration from the Old Testament, reminding us of what is said in Isaiah, “He gives power to the faint, abundant strength to the weak…They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint" (Isaiah 40: 29, 31).  In this song, he compares soaring to the heavens on the wings of eagles to the rising of Jesus from the dead.  By conquering sin and death in His resurrection (a literally rising from a horizontal position to one of vertical animation), Jesus has restored our life and opened for us the path to life eternal.  This path, the Christian life of virtue, is our Via Crucis, but, as it says in Isaiah, Christ gives us His strength, His power; He lifts us up when we fall; and bears us in His arms as on the wings of eagles.  Thus, though this path is difficult, and we may become dead in sin, with our crucified and risen Lord, we can soar.

Also, I enjoy the juxtaposition of positions:  “Before my God, fall on my knees and rise.”  Indeed it is a paradox.  Fundamentally, I think, it is the paradox of the cross, the great sign of death and life, sadness and joy, despair and hope, hatred and love.  The world tells us that we should only be concerned about number one; not only should be desire the accolades of others but that we also deserve to be exalted.  The cross tells us that the last shall be first and the first shall be last.  The bare and bloody cross standing atop Calvary’s hill proclaims to all generations that “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). In kneeling before our God, as we do during the Eucharistic Prayer and in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, we literally place ourselves is a lower position.  In this act, we acknowledge that God is greater than us; we express our humility and submission to His will.  Only in such conformity to the Sacred Heart can we truly rise above our sorrow and pain, claiming the victory that has been one for us by Him who has overwhelmed the grave and made the shadows disappear.  Then we can joyfully say, "It is well."

Lastly, in the bridge, Tomlin gives us a vision of the heavenly liturgy depicted in the Apocalypse, “I looked again and heard the voice of many angels who surrounded the throne and the living creatures and the elders.  They were countless in number, and they cried out in a loud voice:  ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing’" (Revelation 5:12). 

As the blood from the unblemished lamb saved the Israelites from the death and enslavement in Egypt, the blood from the unblemished Lamb of God has given us eternal life and freedom from slavery to sin.  What, then, should be our response to such a gift us who are so unworthy?  With hearts bursting with gratitude and joy, we offer our sacrifice of praise to the Lamb who was sacrificed for us.  

As the quote by Bl. John Paul the Great which circulated with great joy around tumblr this week announces, “We are Easter people, and hallelujah is our song!”

There’s a peace I’ve come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There’s an anchor for my soul
I can say “It is well”

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

[Chorus:]
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

There’s a day that’s drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

[Chorus:]
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

And I hear the voice of many angels sing,
“Worthy is the Lamb”
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
“Worthy is the Lamb”
[x2]

[Chorus:]
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

One last paso from Sevilla to close out a most blessed Semana Santa:  The Allegory of the Triumph of the Holy Cross Over Death
Mors Mortem Superavit (Death Has Conquered Death)
“Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55)

[Photo:  “Triunfo de la Santa Cruz Sobre la Muerte” from [x]εяxεxsz]

One last paso from Sevilla to close out a most blessed Semana Santa:  The Allegory of the Triumph of the Holy Cross Over Death

Mors Mortem Superavit (Death Has Conquered Death)

Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Cor 15:55)

[Photo:  “Triunfo de la Santa Cruz Sobre la Muerte” from [x]εяxεxsz]

Sorry it’s taking me a long time for my Lady’s Night post of the week.  Here is a pic to give you a little taste.
[Photo:  from Mediapolitika]

Sorry it’s taking me a long time for my Lady’s Night post of the week.  Here is a pic to give you a little taste.

[Photo:  from Mediapolitika]

Rosary Walk at Montserrat:  The First Glorious Mystery

Here is an interesting visual representation of the Resurrection designed by the holy architect of the Basilica of Sagrada Familia, Servant of God Antoni Gaudí. 

What makes this a particularly engaging work of art is that you cannot see any of the faces of the holy women; it’s as if you are walking behind them and discovering the empty tomb on that first Easter.  Of the figures in the tomb, the only one that you can see is the angel. 

Another moving aspect about this depiction of the First Glorious Mystery is that you literally have to move in order to appreciate the entire narrative of Gaudí’s art work.  If you actually take a step back, you can see the reason for the glory of this mystery of the rosary:  the risen Christ in glory on the rock above the cave. 

In our lives, often we can become too focused on the minutiae of the moment; then, we loose sight of our Risen Lord.  But, when we take a step back, we can glimpse God’s will, His master design.  The tomb can seem overwhelming, but glory is present even there.  Step back, and set your heart on the One who has overwhelmed the grave.

[Photos:  taken on the Rosary Walk during our pilgrimage to the Basilica of Santa Maria de Montserrat]

L’incontro

What a beautiful expression of faith!  When Our Lady catches her first glimpse of the resurrected Christ, what does she do?  She casts off her mourning and sorrow, and runs to her Son.  Let us fly to Jesus, too.

More about this joyful tradition in Lady’s Night.

Barely tall enough…
"Br. Ursus OP wondering how a very small bear might light such a tall Easter candle…"
[Photo:  by Fr. Lawrence, OP.  If you see this, Happy Easter, Father!]

Barely tall enough…

"Br. Ursus OP wondering how a very small bear might light such a tall Easter candle…"

[Photo:  by Fr. Lawrence, OP.  If you see this, Happy Easter, Father!]

"Joyful Joyful" from Sister Act 2:  Back in the Habit"

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!

REGINA CAELI
(This Marian Antiphon replaces the Angelus during the Easter Season; click here to listen to what it sounds like being sung in Latin)
Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.  Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.  Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.  Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
V/. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R/. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
Oremus.
Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es:  praesta, quaesumus, ut per eius Genitricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae.  Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.  For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.  Has risen, as He said, alleluia.  Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V/. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R/. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray.
O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
[Photo:  (not mine) Virgen de la Alegria]

REGINA CAELI

(This Marian Antiphon replaces the Angelus during the Easter Season; click here to listen to what it sounds like being sung in Latin)

Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.  Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.  Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.  Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

V/. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.

R/. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Oremus.

Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es:  praesta, quaesumus, ut per eius Genitricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae.  Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.  For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.  Has risen, as He said, alleluia.  Pray for us to God, alleluia.

V/. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.

R/. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray.

O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life.
Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

[Photo:  (not mine) Virgen de la Alegria]

EASTER JAM - Christ is Risen by Matt Maher

Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame
But fix our eyes upon the cross
And run to Him who showed great love
And bled for us
Freely You’ve bled for us

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave
Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with Him again
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave

Beneath the weight of all our sin
You bowed to none but heaven’s will
No scheme of hell, no scoffer’s crown
No burden great can hold You down
In strength You reign
Forever let Your church proclaim

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
The glory of God has defeated the night

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead
He’s alive! He’s alive!

Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free.  
He that was taken by death has annihilated it!  He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!  He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed: “Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions”.      
It was embittered, for it was abolished!  It was embittered, for it was mocked!  It was embittered, for it was purged!  It was embittered, for it was despoiled!  It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!  
It took a body and came upon God!  It took earth and encountered Ηeaven!  It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!      
O death, where is thy sting?          
O Hades, where is thy victory?      
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!          
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!              
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!                  
Christ is risen, and life reigns!                      
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!      
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that have slept.  To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.  Amen.
-From the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom
[Photo:  not mine]

Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. 

He that was taken by death has annihilated it!  He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!  He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed: “Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions”.     

It was embittered, for it was abolished!  It was embittered, for it was mocked!  It was embittered, for it was purged!  It was embittered, for it was despoiled!  It was embittered, for it was bound in chains! 

It took a body and came upon God!  It took earth and encountered Ηeaven!  It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!     

O death, where is thy sting?         

O Hades, where is thy victory?     

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!         

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!             

Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!                 

Christ is risen, and life reigns!                     

Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!     

For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that have slept.  To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

-From the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom

[Photo:  not mine]