By your Passion we were set free from our
passions, O Christ, and by your resurrection
we were redeemed from corruption. O Lord,
glory to you.
Sung at the Vesperal Liturgy on Holy Saturday Morning
Used by permission of AGES Initiatives: https://www.agesinitiatives.com/dcs/public/dcs/dcs.html
During our Holy Week and Pascha worship, we rightly emphasize Jesus’s victory over death. Death is the end of our life in this realm, and we usually think of it as the worst disaster of all. In the American religious environment, it can seem that Christianity is only about taking care of the business of surviving death and getting to heaven. The hymn above, however, speaks not only of being saved from the corruption of death, but of being saved from our passions.
It contrasts the Passion (uppercase p) of Christ with our passions (lowercase p). This sounds odd to us, because in current English, passions are usually considered to be the most positive and laudable characteristics in a person’s life! In the liturgical language of the hymn, however, the first Passion refers to Christ’s death and resurrection; and the second, to tendencies within us that lead to sin, to patterns of sin, and even to destruction. Passions are rooted in the soul; our sins usually involve our bodies. If we have a sin in our lives that we repeat, more than likely, we are suffering from a passion. The two words are related in Greek, with a core meaning related to suffering.
So, when we sing that Christ’s Passion set us free from our passions, what does it mean? It means that we can receive substantial spiritual healing in this life. We can bring our sins, thoughts, and passions to Him, and He will help us escape from the chains that bind our inner and outer lives.
God loves us, and has nothing against everyday enthusiasm, interest, and even commitment to most activities that we enjoy; but because He loves us, he wants to save us from our passions.
Behold, the Bridegroom is coming in the middle of the night; and blessed is the servant He shall find awake and watching; unworthy is the other He shall find being lazy. So beware, O soul of mine, be not overcome by sleep, so that you not be handed over to death and be shut out from the Kingdom. Come to your senses and cry aloud: Holy, holy, holy are You our God.