Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
Happy Thomas Sunday!
"Although the doors were locked, You appeared to Your disciples, O Christ; but through providence, Thomas was not with them. For he said: I will not believe until I see the Lord, until I see the side from which the blood and water of our baptism came forth, until I see the wound by which He healed all people from the great wound, and I see that He is not a pure spirit, but a person made of flesh and bones. Therefore, O Lord, who trampled Death and made Thomas firm in his belief, O Lord, glory to You!" (From the stichera at Vespers for Thomas Sunday).
In the prayers of Vespers we also sing: "How wonderful is this doubt of Thomas! It brought the hearts of believers to the knowledge of God." God chooses to use our weaknesses for His glory! May we never become discouraged by our weaknesses, but cry out instead, "My Lord and my God!" and turn quickly to Him, offering Him the very things that seem to us to be stumbling blocks in our relationship with Him. Let us approach with confidence the wound of Christ "by which He healed all people from the great wound"--the great wound of sin we received by listening to the great lie of Satan: that God does not love us and does not intend for us to be like Him. Jesus' first words to His disciples were, "Peace be with you!" He did not come and condemn them for abandoning Him in His Passion...He came bringing peace and mercy.
Here at the monastery, our celebration of Christ's Passion and Resurrection was a powerful experience for each of us personally, as well as a community. A Byzantine Carmelite priest, Fr. Cyril, came from Chicago to stay with us and celebrate the services here from Great & Holy Friday until Bright Monday. It was a great gift to be able to celebrate all of the services in our chapel, and to spend this holy time with another monastic. Other priests from our eparchy helped out as well, and Bishop John celebrated Bridegroom Matins here on Holy Wednesday. Our photos may not be able to convey the deep spiritual beauty of this time, but at least they can give you a little glimpse!