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Understanding the Meaning of the Eighth Day


The Church preserves its identity thoroughly. 2000 years that passed did not manage to change the Gospel. It remains the same good news and bright God’s message addressed to people. Sometimes it seems to us that the rite has replaced the faith, that we have stumbled into the traditions of the past, that the life of the Church has become darkened like the image on the miraculous icon and has been covered with a thik cover. But then the day of Pascha arrives and makes all the doubts and fears go away. Any dualism of the soul and any blasphemy against the Truth disappear in the sound of Paschal bells and victorious “Christ is Risen!” chants.

We should not just live only one week a year with this Paschal joy. We need to catch it and hold it just like Elisha, the disciple of Prophet Elijah, did when he held Elijah’s mantle in his hands. 

The Church stretches the Paschal string through the whole year so that we can follow the commandment of Apostle Paul: “Rejoice evermore”. And there are ties on this string, which are Sundays. It is a minor Pascha; an antipascha, not in the meaning "against", but in the meaning "instead". Of course, when Apostles Peter and Paul were alive, the Church did not celebrate the feast of the All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles. While the Mother of God was still alive, there was no feast of the Dormition. What did the Church have, when there was no Dormition, Intercession, Entrance into the Temple and the Apostles’ feast days? The Church had Sunday. It is the first feast of the new humanity, thanks to which our connection with the early Church and the cradle remains firm and does not break.

The world is contraucted on the basis of seven days(week). The number six points to the created world while the number seven reminds us that the created world is blessed. Here lies the key to understanding of the meaning of Saturday celebrations. On the seventh day, which is Saturday, God blessed everything that he had created. Thus, on Saturday a person had to rest from his everyday work, think about the Creator’s work and glorify Him for how perfectly He had everything organized. It was supposed that on Saturday a man did not reveal his power over the created world: he was supposed to spend that day without digging, cutting or lighting a fire. This day should have been filled with prayer, rest and thoughts about God. However, a man has sinned and fallen victim to the seducer. He needed to be saved from sin. Saturday could not save the man, because it was only there to support his spiritual life. Christ healed humanity and He did that on Sunday, the first day of the week.

The redemption of the world is even greater example of love than its creation. The fact that God easily created a beautiful world beyond compare shows that He is almighty and wise. At the same time, the fact that He sent His only Son to save the world shows His love. What should we do then? For what should we love God more? For His Almightiness or for His love toward us as fallen creations? The Church states: for His love. The Church does not cancel Saturday but instead calls it a feast day and fills it with prayer. Nevertheless, the Church places Sunday, the first day of the week, above Saturday. We celebrate it more passionately, because it is our constant reminder of the One Who loves us and sacrificed Himself for us.

Sunday is the first and the eighth day of the week at the same time. It is the first day in terms of the weekly cycle, and it becomes the eighth day when it breaks the cycle and goes beyond it. On that very first day, God created light and separated it from darkness. It is joyful that we can see the similarity between this day and the day of Resurrection. The thing is, the Resurrected Christ defeated darkness. He made it visible and let the man get out from it and step into the light. Concerning the eighth day, the  liturgical Sunday celebration turns us into participants of blessed eternity, the everlasting feast described in the Gospel. The Holy Fathers referred to it as the eighth day. The seventh day, is when God does not create anything new and rules over what is already create. With Christ’s coming and His righteous Judgement, a new day will come – the eighth day - and the Kingdom of Heaven, of which there shall be no end. The Sunday celebration unites the two ends of history – its artistic beginning and its dramatic end.  All the beauty of this theological meal is open for any person who takes part in the Sunday prayer.



By the way, the Resurrection of Christ is the eighth resurrection in the Bible, and the first one by its meaning. Before it there were three resurrections in the Old Testament: Elijah and Elisha resurrected the adolescents, and one dead man revived after he had fallen on the Elisha’s bones. In the New Testament, the Lord resurrected the son of the widow, the daughter of Jair and Lazarus. The seventh resurrection was the resurrection of many saints in Jerusalem during the Savior’s sufferings on the cross (Matthew 27:52-53). The Lord Himself was the eighth. But what kind of a resurrection was it? He resurrected for everlasting eternal life, over which death has no power. All the people who had been resurrected before died later, because their nature was not transfigured. Only the Lord opened the gates to Eternity for us  with His total victory over death. Therefore, it turns out that His Resurrection is the eighth in its order and the first in its meaning. The same is with His day, the Lord’s day.

An article by Fr. Andrew Tkachev

Source: http://otrok-ua.ru/sections/art/show/den_vosmoi.html



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