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The Truth of Pascha

By Douglas Cramer, Editor, Antiochian.org

I've recently been spending time with an old college roommate, a man dying of cancer in his 30’s. He’s not Christian, not married, has no children. We spend a lot of time talking about death. “What do you believe happens when we die?”, my friend asked unprompted one afternoon as we sat outside his home. “You know I’m a Christian,” I answered. “This is what I believe.” And I talked about the Resurrection, about how I believe the truth is that we are created for life, body and soul. That death is not the end. That we are called to live, to live the life of the New Man.

This is what I believe. This is what I know. Death is not our end. I know that this is true. In the Gospel of John, we read Jesus Christ’s words to Pontius Pilate before His crucifixion: “For this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” And Pilate answers: “What is truth?”

What is truth? What is falsehood? These are the questions we all need to ask. What do you believe to be true? If a dying man with no knowledge of God asked you what you believe about death, what would you say? God wants us to have an answer. He wants us to know that there is Truth. “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice,” Christ teaches.

We should strive to be “of the truth.” Truth comes to us not as a sterile solution, as an answer to the question “What is truth?” Truth comes to us as life – the life of Christ. Truth is not a “what.” Truth is a “Who”.

Bringing Light to the World Wide Web: Antiochian Archdiocese Online

by Douglas Cramer

“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols . Therefore he reasoned . . . in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there . ”
Acts 17: 16-17

Throughout the New Testament, we find stories of St. Paul making use of the tools of his day to communicate the Gospel and engage in the marketplace of ideas. From ships to the postal service, St. Paul used the communications systems of the Roman Empire in service of our Lord Jesus Christ. This model continues to guide the Church today, as we seek to use well the tools of our society to communicate with each other, and with the world beyond. The most significant communications technology of today is also the one that is so new that we are still coming to grips with its place in our lives: the Internet.

Well over a billion people across the world are estimated to have used the Internet in December of 2007 alone, including 250 million North Americans, over 70% of our continent’s population. An Internet business expert recently noted that, “the Internet is one big gigantic never-ending computer conference call, with people joining in and dropping out all the time.” This raises an important question for us at the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America: “What do we have to say?” The answer is, “A lot!”

One Church, Many Voices

Dachau 1945: The Souls of All Are Aflame

In 1945, a Paschal Liturgy like no other was performed. Just days after their liberation by the US military on April 29, 1945, hundreds of Orthodox Christian prisoners at the Dachau concentration camp gathered to celebrate the Resurrection service and to give thanks.

by Douglas Cramer

The Dachau concentration camp was opened in 1933 in a former gunpowder factory. The first prisoners interred there were political opponents of Adolf Hitler, who had become German chancellor that same year. During the twelve years of the camp's existence, over 200,000 prisoners were brought there. The majority of prisoners at Dachau were Christians, including Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox clergy and lay people.

Countless prisoners died at Dachau, and hundreds were forced to participate in the cruel medical experiments conducted by Dr. Sigmund Rascher. When prisoners arrived at the camp they were beaten, insulted, shorn of their hair, and had all their belongings taken from them. The SS guards could kill whenever they thought it was appropriate. Punishments included being hung on hooks for hours, high enough that heels did not touch the ground; being stretched on trestles; being whipped with soaked leather whips; and being placed in solitary confinement for days on end in rooms too small to lie down in.

The abuse of the prisoners reached its end in the spring of 1945. The events of that Holy Week were later recorded by one of the prisoners, Gleb Rahr. Rahr grew up in Latvia and fled with his family to Nazi Germany when the Russians invaded. He was arrested by the Gestapo because of his membership in an organization that opposed both fascism and communism. Originally imprisoned in Buchenwald, he was transported to Dachau near the end of the war.