Our cousin Venus in California just lost her precious Aunt. ("Thea" in Greek.) In responding to her loss I was reminded about our shared Greek Orthodox faith.
It is faith in God and His Son that makes this following quote comforting:
Sympathy: "Bretheren, I do not want you to be ignorant about those who have fallen asleep, so that you will not grieve like those who have no hope. Because if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so must we believe that God will bring with Jesus all those who have
died believing in Him.
For this is the Lord's teaching, we tell you: We the living, who survive until the coming of the Lord, will in no way meet him ahead of those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with the shout of command,
the Archangel's voice and trumpet of God.
And those who have died believing in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with Him forever. - 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-17"
When a Greek Orthodox person dies, a mournful prayer is sung by loved ones at the funeral and every year as long as they live --- "Eonia i Mnimi" -- "May Her (his, their) Memory Be
Eternal!" It is a statement of faith and respect-- and love.
(For another family story that addresses our faith please visit "Our Family Heritage" page on my website. There is a painting I created embedding the story onto the canvas.)
You may notice that it is hard to separate the Greek people from their faith. Faith, God, traditions, the Church are so intertwined with daily life. It is also the reflection of the faith of the first Christians. Orthodoxy (meaning first) began on the day of Pentecost. It isn't non-denominational- is it PRE-denominational! The culmination of the entire year is Holy Week. After the midnight service celebrating PASCHA-- (Easter) the faithful say to each and everyone they meet-- "Christos Enesti" .... (He has risen!).
The term began in antiquity and is credited to St. John Chrysostom.
In the very early years of its history the Eastern Orthodox Church adopted the custom of using the Paschal sermon of St. John Chrysostom (4th cent.) at the Paschal Vigil service held during the Saturday night before Easter morning:
"I am risen! I am no longer in the tomb. Three days have I ministered to those under the earthand now they are set free. And you, the living still,have you chosen to live in Me,that you may live and never die? My resurrection is for you. Today you may rise beyond the bondages of the past. You may rise with Me, victorious in this life, raised in glory in the next! Christos Anesti! Truly I have risen! "
In closing this Holy Week-- (We celebrate "Easter" this coming Sunday);
I wish you, "Christos Anesti!"
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