From: Marilyn Agee
I asked an Orthodox Priest to tell me how they figured the date for Easter. He kindly said, “yes” when I asked If I could post it.
“Thank you for asking my opinion… here are some of my thoughts. [[Also, by the way, when I mentioned the historical occurrences of the Holy Fire, I also meant to include the burning bush of Mount Sinai as one of those occasions at which the LORD revealed Himself in this form – when you read about the appearance of the Holy Fire in Jerusalem at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, you will note that the same thing happens: at first the Holy Fire does not burn, but then afterward, the wicks of the candles are lit and the Holy Fire changes into the normal kind of fire we experience that burns and consumes.]]
As for the differences in calculating Pascha (Easter)…
We know that there is a problem with the way Western Christians calculate it because on some years Western Easter comes before the Jewish Passover celebration. Just a few years ago, I remember that Western Easter was about a month ahead of the Jewish Passover. So, that can’t be right, can it?
At the First Ecumenical Council (AD 325), the Holy Fathers of the Church set down the rules for calculating the annual date of Holy Pascha. It was necessitated because the churches in the various parts of the world (mostly within the boundaries of the Roman Empire, but some beyond, as well) were either commemorating Pascha according to the rabbinic Jewish Passover celebrations, or on the Sunday nearest, etc. There was a lot of chaos. So, the Emperor Constantine (who was a devout Christian, contrary to what some Protestant writers suggest) called for this first Ecumenical Council to settle this dispute about the annual commemoration of the LORD’s resurrection. (There were also several other controversies that were rocking the Church at that time, most notably the heresy of Arius, and the question of the Donatists in North Africa).
We both know that after the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Jewish authorities sought to explain-away the obvious judgment that God brought against them and their corrupt Temple sacrifices. You have written about these events many times in your postings. Here is a good source that concisely states them: http://www.biblesearchers.com/catastrophes/timeofend1.shtml
The Holy Fathers of the Church knew full well that the rabbinic authorities were actively trying to hide any evidence of the prophecies of the Christ as being fulfilled by Jesus. The rabbis re-wrote portions of the Old Testament, and even cast out entire books because the rabbis saw that Jesus was revealed in them.
(FYI: when I say “Holy Fathers of the Church” I don’t say of the “Orthodox” Church, because all of the Church was Orthodox at that time; it was in subsequent years that the dissenters and heretics began to separate themselves from The Church and start their own variations. Pride and Power and Avarice were the wedges that the Bishop of Rome used to divide the Church in AD1054…the Protestants saw the wickedness that the Popes of Rome brought into its “church” and sought to separate themselves from her corruption – thankfully, they had the Scriptures which the Orthodox Church had compiled, which showed that many of the policies of the Popes were contrary to the Will of God. If the Mongols and the Muslims had not sealed off the Orthodox Church in the East from western Europe, the Protestants and the Orthodox may well have been reunited at the time of the Reformation. There were some contacts between the followers of Martin Luther and the Orthodox Patriarch in Constantinople/Istanbul shortly following Luther’s death, but there could never be a face-to-face meeting, and the correspondence, while cordial, was too problematic for the Lutherans and the Orthodox to make progress on unity.)
There are some claims that the Holy Fathers of the Church were “anti-Semitic” but that is not true. Of course, they had a living memory of the persecutions of the Christians in the first century by Jewish authorities until the destruction of the Temple; but enmity against Christians by the Jews continued even after the destruction of Jerusalem. Even today, in Israel, there are Orthodox Jews who will spit upon an Orthodox Christian Priest when he sees one. This is shocking to think about, but it happened to an Orthodox Priest friend of mine who went on an excursion to the Holy Land last spring. When he was walking in Jerusalem, just minding his own business (not acting controversially or anything), an Orthodox Jewish man came up to him and spit on him! My friend was so taken aback that he didn’t know what was happening; but he blessed the man and went on his way. He said that there were many other similar incidences that he experienced while there. So, while I personally believe that it is God’s Will that the Jews re-inhabit their ancestral lands in Palestine, I also believe that it is merely a prelude to God’s final effort to get them to accept Jesus as the Messiah. St. Paul was right, that his people are stubborn, but he is also right when he prophesies that they will turn to their Saviour, just as we, the wild olive shoots, have already done. So that both Gentile and Jew will be one in Christ Jesus, to the Glory of God!
So, here is the way that the Orthodox Christians determine when the date of Holy Pascha will be. The Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council determined that the following would be the formula to determine the date upon which Holy Pascha would be celebrated in all of the churches:
1) The first Sunday
2) Following the first full moon
3) Following the vernal equinox
4) And it must be after the Hebraic Passover (after the full 7-day festival, not just after the initial Passover meal)
The Church of Rome (following the Great Schism) ignored the 4th rule. Also, the Church of Rome adopted the Gregorian Calendar, which causes a variance in calculating rule #3. The Orthodox Church continues to use the Julian Calendar to determine the date of the vernal equinox (i.e., it is March 21st – this date is 13 days different from the Gregorian March 21st – so, according to Orthodox tradition, regardless of the actual celestial occurrence of the equinox, the Orthodox Church established March 21st , Julian, as the date to keep as the time of the equinox – this is because we are keeping the tradition that was in place at the time of Jesus; in other words, the celestial bodies have moved 13 days from where they were at the time of Jesus, but we are keeping the same day so that the commemoration is based on the date of the Resurrection, not on the slippage of the stars due to polar precession). These two variants are the reason why some years the Western Easter and the Orthodox Pascha can be as much as 6 weeks apart.
There was a concerted effort at the beginning of the 20th century to have all of the Orthodox Church to move to using the Gregorian calendar. This was driven by Freemasons who had infiltrated the Orthodox hierarchy. Some of the national churches adopted the Gregorian calendar for the time of the church year outside of Lent and Pascha, some did not and use the Julian calendar for the entire year. However, all of the Orthodox churches still continue to use the Julian calendar for the calculation of Great Lent and the date of Holy Pascha. I believe that the effort to do away with the Julian calendar was a diabolical plan to change the Orthodox Church’s calculation so that we would not recognize or be prepared for the Second Coming. – I think that this very year is the reason why the Devil was so interested in changing our calculation.
However, I also believe that God did not allow the Devil to win any victory by having the Roman Catholic Church change from using the Julian calendar, because this year the twin celebrations of Easter/Pascha are “bookends” to the prophetic completion of this Age. Let me tell you what I mean:
Let us suppose, for a moment, that I am correct and that the traditional manner in which the Orthodox Church calculates the date of Pascha (Easter) is correct. This year (being the pivotal and final year – I hope and pray) there are quite a few “coincidences” that are revealed by celebrating the Resurrection on April 15th.
The first day of the Hebrew Passover this year fell on Friday, April 6/7. So, the Passover meal was eaten on the night of Friday, April 6th. That day, according to the Orthodox Julian calendar was a very significant day in the Orthodox Church, with an astounding coincidence of Feasts. First, that day (the evening of April 6th and the daylight portion of April 7th) is March 25th on the Julian calendar. What does this mean? This date, March 25th, is the Feast of the Annunciation. Why is this significant? Because on this date, we proclaim that God became Incarnate in the womb of the Virgin. (I know you believe that this actually occurred during Hanukkah, and historically, that may well be true; but nevertheless, the Church celebrates the date on March 25th.) On the Annunciation, the sin of Eve was undone by the assent of the Virgin to God’s Plan. On the Annunciation, the un-circumscribable God condescended to be incarnate in the flesh and to subsist in the womb of the Virgin. On the Annunciation, the Creator of Adam became the second Adam, so that the first Adam’s sin and corruption could be undone, remade in the perfection of God’s own Incarnate Self (effected in fact when each of us share in the Water and Spirit of Holy Baptism, putting on Christ and putting off the old man, who is subject to sin and death). On the Annunciation, the womb of the Virgin became the corollary to the tomb of Gethsemane – and to the tomb of each one of us – therefore, the womb becomes a promise of our own resurrection.
This last coincidence is particularly important on this specific day in 2012 – why? Because this day, Saturday, April 7th (March 25th on the Julian calendar), is the day we celebrate the raising of Lazarus. The Saturday before Palm Sunday is Lazarus Saturday (our Palm Sunday being on April 8th – Gregorian date). So, on the day when the Orthodox Church declares the sublime Mystery of the Annunciation/Incarnation of God, we are simultaneously remembering and celebrating the day when Christ Jesus called, “Lazarus, come forth!” – this is, of course, the command we shall hear when the Lord returns for us… “Come forth, my people!” The next day, Sunday, April 8th, was Palm Sunday, which is the day we hear the crowds proclaim: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
I say that the Devil has been frustrated because this coincidence of Western Easter with Orthodox Palm Sunday and Jewish Firstfruits is a tremendous proclamation of the VICTORY of Christ Jesus over Sin, Death, and the Devil. Think of all of the promises and prophecies attached with each of those commemorations, and think of all of them being proclaimed by Western Christians and Orthodox Christians and the Jews, all at the same time! I think that is amazing!! Not only this, but the narrative continues with the Orthodox Church’s commemoration of Holy Week and the Resurrection during the following week (from April 9th through 15th). This period is like a recapitulation of the Age of the Church, the week we walk with Christ toward the Resurrection in our Holy Week is like the 2,000 years of our Christian walk of this Age – AND it coincides with the Jewish celebration of the 7-Day Passover.
Now, another “coincidence” – the last day of the Passover week coincides with Holy Saturday of the Orthodox Church. The 7th and last day of the Passover week is a HIGH DAY – and this year it is also on the weekly Sabbath. (Here is a link to a very good description of the theological and liturgical significance of this day has for the Jews: http://www.betemunah.org/seventh.html ) This Sabbath is the day of REST, when our Lord “rested” in the tomb. But while that was happening on earth in the tomb of Gethsemane, the LORD GOD of Sabaoth was in Hell – as GOD – destroying the power of Hell and of Death, and taking by force the title deed to the souls of mankind from the Devil. This day is the day upon which the Shekinah Glory of GOD appears at the Aedicule of the Tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher each year. (As an aside, I believe that this sacred phenomenon is God’s confirmation that the Orthodox calculation of the date of Pascha/Easter is the correct one – for so has this great miracle manifested itself since the time that the Holy Sepulcher was built, and has only manifested itself for the Orthodox Patriarch, and not for the Latin Bishop or any of the schismatics; and is a direct refutation of the Muslims.)
At the close of that day, the Sabbath of the Lord, and “very early on the next day” we historically know that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and burst forth from the tomb. The soldiers appeared as dead men because they witnessed the LORD GOD of Sabaoth, not the carpenter from Nazareth whom they had seen hanging upon the Cross a day earlier. I believe that the symbolism is too great to ignore. I hope that this symbolism coincides with the reality of the end of this Age. I think that at 6:00pm in Jerusalem, on the evening of Saturday, April 14th, this Age will end and the LORD will call for all of us to “Arise” and meet Him. This is the time when the bodies of the saints walked into Jerusalem as they were resurrected at the time of our LORD’s resurrection. This also means that I think that Sunday, April 15th is the beginning of the end for those who have been opposed to our LORD – it is the time when the Devil’s Anti-Christ seeks to make his move – it is the Devil’s last gasp.
I think that the time between our Holy Pascha and the date of Pentecost (June 3rd for Orthodox Christians) will be a time of unparalleled shock and consternation among those Christians who are “left behind.” They will have to come to terms with those of us (God Willing, of “us”), who have been taken with Him into the wedding feast, with the doors now closed. Perhaps the 144,000 Jews will be “anointed” by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, just as the Apostles and disciples were anointed by the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem at the beginning of this Age. Perhaps during this time period, the Two Witnesses will be manifested, and will start their ministry. Perhaps during this period the Anti-Christ will be manifested in full. Perhaps during this time the earthly Temple in Jerusalem will be started.
Well, in just a couple of days, I hope to hear the Voice of God call us to join Him; and witness the frustration of the Devil as we all slip between his fingers and ascend to be with our LORD.
May it be soon; this world is becoming much too much like Sodom and Gomorrah for me. It seems like only a little push will topple everything and great evil and darkness will hold sway.”
Come, LORD Jesus!
Your servant in Christ Jesus,
(from an Orthodox Christian Priest)