This is the greeting we, Ukrainian Christians (Catholic or Orthodox), have used during the Easter season for generations.
Not surprisingly, with our current immersion in multifarious diversity, this “religious” greeting, together with so many rituals and traditions is fading away—possibly because in our lives of unending choices, we gradually forget “the why” of doing things. We lose the meaning, the symbolism, and ultimately the benefit of a given tradition when it is only repeated because “that’s what Baba did”.
Recently I heard an Indigenous man explain how his tradition teaches an obligation to honour the rituals of the past 7 generations, with the responsibility of passing them on to future 7 generations. I was struck by the similarity to our cultural heritage that also unfailingly encompasses both those who have come before us and those who are yet to come. Our refrain of Vichnaja Pamiat’, our kutia, our pysanky, reflect our practices that, in the here-and-now, at once involve past and future community. With our traditions we participate in a universal reality.
Similarly, our Easter greeting holds so much more than a statement of belief in the miraculous revival of a man. It is a statement of the revival of humanity. The icon of the resurrection conveys the personal relevance of this event: Christ pulls Adam and Eve out of hell; that is, Christ pulls creation out of the depths to a level with Him.
“Anyone who enters into love, and through love experiences inextricable suffering and the fatality of death, enters into the history of the human God, for [their] forsakenness is lifted away from [them] in the forsakenness of Christ, and in this way [they] can continue to love, need not look away from the negative and from death, but can sustain death.” (Jurgen Moltmann)
Our rituals rooted in Byzantine theology contain a treasure of wisdom that, currently, Western theologians are eagerly discovering.
In this way we, next Sunday after Bright Week, will celebrate together, with a blessed Paschal meal, the beauty and goodness of our life in love, shared with God.