And if he descends into Hades, go down with him.

St. Gregory of Nazianzus. 12th-13th c, Studenica monastery, Kraljevo, Serbia.

…Let us sacrifice ourselves to God, or rather offer sacrifice every day and in every movement. Let us accept all things for the Word. By sufferings let us imitate his suffering, by blood let us exalt his blood, let us willingly climb up on the cross. Sweet are the nails, even if very painful. For to suffer with Christ and for Christ is preferable to feasting with others.

If you are Simon of Cyrene, take up the cross and follow. If you are crucified with him as a thief, come to know God as kindhearted; if he was counted among the lawless because of you and your sin, become law abiding because of him. Worship the one hanged for you even if you are hanging; gain something even from the evil, purchase salvation by death. Come into paradise with Jesus so as to learn from what you have fallen. Contemplate the beauties there; leave the murmurer to die outside with his blasphemies. And if you are Joseph from Arimathea, ask for the body from the crucifier; let that which cleanses the world become yours. And if you are Nicodemus, the nocturnal worshipper of God, bury him with scented ointments. And if you are a certain Mary or another Mary or Salome or Joanna, weep at daybreak. Be first to see the stone removed, and perhaps the angels and Jesus himself. Say something, hear his voice. If you hear “Do not touch me,” stand far off, have reverence for the Word,  but do not be sorrowful. For he knows those by whom he was seen first. Keep the feast of the resurrection; help Eve, the first who fell, and her who first greeted Christ and made him known to the disciples. Become Peter or John; hasten to the tomb, running against each other, running together, competing in the good competition. And if you are beaten in speed, win in zeal, not just peeping into the tomb but going inside. And if like Thomas you are left behind when the disciples have assembled to whom Christ manifests himself, when you see do not disbelieve; and if you disbelieve, believe those who tell you. If you cannot believe then either, believe the prints of the nails. And if he descends into Hades, go down with him.


Excerpt from Oration 45: “On Holy Pascha” [23-24], Festal Orations by St. Gregory of Nazianzus. Emphases added.

Author: Synaxis

Synaxis is a blog of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary.

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