Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Sermon for Holy Saturday, by St. Ephiphanius, Part 5

(Note: This sermon reproduced from it's translation as found on page 33 of "The Lamentations of Matins of Holy and Great Saturday", translated from the Greek and published by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, Massachusetts, 1981
© Copyright Holy Transfiguration MonasteryBrookline, MA, used by permission. All rights reserved.)

Whither does He go? Where comes His path, He Whom death cannot dominate? What is the reason [of these things]? What the means? What is the intent of His descent into Hades? Perhaps He descends so as to bring up Adam the condemned, our fellow servant?

Verily, He goes to seek out Adam, the first-created, the lost sheep. It is certain that He wishes to visit those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death; it is certain that He goes to loose Adam the captive and his co-captive Eve from affliction, He that is both God and her Son.
But let us descend with Him, but let us rejoice together, but let us hasten, but let us skip, but let us escort Him, but let us praise Hi, but let us run quickly, seeing God's reconciliation with men and the release of the condemned by the good Master! The Friend of man by nature goes with great gallantry and might to lead forth them that are there held captive from ages past, them that dwell in the grave, whom bitter, insatiate death has tyrannically swallowed, oppressed, stolen from God and amassed; He goes to free them and number them with the denizens on high.

There Adam is found, the captive, the first-created, the first-born, and who of all those condemned to the nether regions is nethermost. There is Abel, the first to die, the first righteous man, the shepherd and type of Christ the Shepherd's unjust slaughter. There is Noe, the type of Christ, the Fashioner of the great Ark of God's Church, which saved all the bestial nations from the cataclysm of ungodliness by the Dove, the Holy Spirit, which banished from itself the blackish raven. There is Abraham, the sacrificer and father off Christ, Who sacrificed to God that most blessed Sacrifice which with double-edged sword dealt death to death.

There below is Isaac bound, who above9 was bound of Abraham in olden times as a type of Christ. There is Jacob afflicted in Hades below, who above was once afflicted because of Joseph. There is Joseph the fettered, who in Egypt was cast into prison as a type of Christ the Prisoner and Potentate. There is Moses below in darksome regions, who once was in the cleft amidst the darkness. There is Daniel in the pit of Hades, who once above was in the pit of lions. There Jeremias as in a pit of slime lies in the pit of hades and the corruption of death. There in that world-devouring leviathan of Hades Jonas lies as a type of Christ, the eternal and pre-eternal Jonas Who lives unto the ages and the ages of ages.

And there is David too, God's forefather, from whom Christ sprung after the flesh. But why speak I of David, Jonas, and Solomon? There is found the sublime John himself, who is greater than all the prophets, who as though in a dark womb proclaimed Christ to all in Hades, the twofold forerunner, the preacher of the living and the dead, he that from Herod's dungeon was sent to the common prison of Hades where both righteous and unrighteous from ages past were sleeping.

All the prophets and righteous unceasingly offered up secret, mystical supplications to God, begging for deliverance from that most grievous, gloomy, fiendish murk, and tenebrious, nocturnal black. One cried to God, "From the belly of Hades hearken unto my cry, hear my voice."10 Another, "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice."11 And another, "Cause Thy face to shine, and we shall be saved."12

And another, "Thou that sittest on the Cherubim, manifest Thyself."13 And another, "Stir up Thy might and come to save us."14 And another, "Let Thy compassions quickly go before us, O Lord."15 And another, "Deliver my soul from the nethermost Hades."16 And another, "O Lord, bring up my soul out of Hades."17 And another, "Abandon not my soul in Hades."18 And another, "Let my life ascend from corruption unto Thee, O Lord my God."19

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