April 20, 2015

Analyzing the TREC Report, Part 1

I have written a good deal about the work of the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC). (See blog posts here, here, here, here, and here.) I have not yet had anything to say about the final report produced by TREC, which includes specific proposals the task force wants the 2015 General Convention to adopt.

TREC logoI have repeatedly begun reading the TREC report and have found it rough going. The General Convention is fast approaching, however, so I think it’s time for me to get serious about the report if I’m going to have anything to say at all.

My original plan was to write a single essay about the report, perhaps to be accompanied by an annotated version of it to highlight particular issues. As I worked my way through the document, however, the significance of its 73-page length became apparent. There is a lot of material there, and the individual pieces are tightly coupled.

This led me to develop Plan B. I will begin a series of essays about “Engaging God’s Mission in the 21st Century: Final Report of the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church.” These reflections will appear here in no particular order.

This first essay addresses some global issues and looks in depth at what appears to be a minor recommendation of the task force. My primary concern is the task force’s Resolution A0009. My comments on the overall report are mainly to provide context for an analysis of that resolution.

General Remarks on the Report

 

One might reasonably have expected that the task force would have followed a plan something like the following in presenting its recommendations:
  1. Articulate the problem or problems to be solved, illustrating the discussion with helpful examples.
  2. Analyze the factors contributing to the problems.
  3. Enumerate solutions considered.
  4. Indicate and justify the approaches considered best.
  5. Explain how the chosen approaches are likely to ameliorate the problems identified.
  6. Describe how the proposed solutions might be implemented. (Implementation could become yet another problem to be solved.)
In fact, this is nothing like what we see in the report. The problems besetting The Episcopal Church are not described in detail, and proposed solutions are not effectively tied to those problems.

There is a consensus, at least among General Convention deputies, that all is not well with The Episcopal Church, but not everyone agrees on just what is amiss. Curiously, a major reason the 2012 General Convention passed Resolution C095 creating TREC was an intense dissatisfaction with the way budget proposals were handled in 2009 and 2012. The task force has not even identified the budgeting process as a problem, however.

I will have more to say about the approach taken by the task force and the structure of its report in a later essay.

The three major proposals of the task force are presented early in the body of the report, but detailed explanations, such as they are, are only provided in Appendix 3. Even there, one finds more naïve optimism and hand waving than analysis and realism. The six resolutions intended to implement fully the changes in the main proposals are relegated to Appendix 5, where the explanations are, to be generous, modest. As always, the devil is in the details, and the General Convention will be making a serious mistake if it fails to pay as much attention to Appendix 5 as it does to the main body of the report.

In any case, it seems fair to say that the primary recommendation of the task force is the restructuring of the General Convention, along with the redefinition of certain church positions. These changes drive much of the implementing resolutions relegated to Appendix 5.

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society


One of the canons that has to be revised if TREC’s proposals are adopted is Canon I.3, Of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. The explanation offered for replacing the current canon with the text in the Final Report is the following:
This Resolution conforms the Constitution of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society to the changes proposed in other Resolutions to the makeup of the DFMS officers.
That seems straightforward enough and encourages the reader to skim the proposed text and conclude that it looks perfectly reasonable. This is especially true, as the proposed Canon I.3 appears on pages 72 and 73 of the 73-page Final Report. All is not as it seems, however.

The task force has proposed a number of substantial changes to the constitution and canons of the church. In doing so, it has offered replacement text without reference to the current article or canon. This makes it difficult to see exactly what is being proposed and puts an undue burden on deputies who want to understand what they may be asked to vote on. It is not clear if this approach was dictated by time constraints or by a desire to obfuscate. Had the task force clearly indicated what is wanted to change and why, its approach might have been forgivable. As it did not, it isn’t. In fact, one has to ask if even the members of TREC really know what they were doing, as we shall see.

The final resolution proposed by the task force, Resolution A0009, offers replacement text for Canon I.3, Of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. Resolution A009 mistakenly says that it is offering a replacement for Canon 1.4, an identification that contains two distinct errors. Presumably, this is the sort of typographical error that will be caught and corrected by a legislative committee, though it calls into question the care with which the report was written.

To facilitate the discussion of Resolution A0009, the reader may want to read the current canon, the proposed replacement, and the comparison of the two generated by Microsoft Word.

I now want to consider the changes being made by TREC. I should first note that there is a minor inconsistency in the current canon, namely the use of the in the canon’s title, whereas the first word in the name of the DFMS is always rendered The in the canon’s body.

Now consider the minor changes made by the task force:
  1. In line 2, and is substituted for as for no obvious reason. The meaning is unchanged.
  2. Article II changes the name of the society by eliminating the prefixed The and the terminating of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. (I will have more to say about Article II below.)
  3. In line 2 of Article II, in line 3 of Article III, and in the final line of Article III, By-laws has been changed to bylaws, which, of course, reflects more modern spelling and capitalization. On the other hand, in its rewrite of Canon I.1.2, the task force substituted by-laws for By-laws, which introduces an inconsistency in TREC’s own recommendations, albeit not one of substance. In the current canons, By-laws appears elsewhere as well. TREC should have conformed to current conventions, even if they are archaic.
  4. Throughout the proposed revised Canon 3, the Society is replaced by the DFMS, an acronym introduced in Article I. Again, this is not a substantive change, but it is an unnecessary stylistic one.
  5. At the end of Article III, TREC has substituted with the Canons for therewith, presumably on the theory that nobody says therewith anymore. The change is gratuitous but harmless.
The substitution of Presiding Deputy for President of the House of Deputies and the substitution of Church General Manager for Chief Operating Officer are clearly necessitated by “the changes proposed in other Resolutions.”

There are more substantive changes here, however. Consider the matter of the Treasurer of the DFMS. According to the present Canon I.3, the Treasurer of the DFMS is “the person who is the Chief Financial Officer of the Executive Council.” Executive Council appoints a Chief Financial Officer, who is nominated by the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies, the Council’s Chair and Vice Chair, respectively (Canon I.4.3(e)). According to Canon I.1.7(a), the person who is the Treasurer of the General Convention is a member of the Executive Council and “may also be Treasurer of the Domestic & Foreign Missionary Society and the Executive Council.” (I assume that what is meant is “may be the Treasurer of the Domestic & Foreign Missionary Society and the Chief Financial Officer of the Executive Council,” since nowhere is there mention of a Treasurer of the Executive Council who is not the Chief Financial Officer. This is another instance of an inconsistency in the current canons.) In practice, it appears that the Treasurer of the General Convention, the Treasurer of the DFMS, and the Chief Financial Officer of the Executive Council are virtually always the same person.

So much for the way things are. What about how things would be were all of the task force’s recommendations adopted. When I tried to figure this out, I was immediately perplexed by this sentence in the proposed Resolution A0009:
The Treasurer shall also serve as the Chief Financial Officer of the DFMS.
This seemingly corresponds to the current wording, which is
the Treasurer shall be the person who is the Chief Financial Officer of the Executive Council;
The careless reader might mistake these excerpts as saying essentially the same thing in a slightly different way. Of the 13 words in the proposed canon and 16 words in the current canon, 9 occur in both in the same order. They do not, however, say the same thing. In the second instance, “Treasurer” clearly refers to the Treasurer of the DFMS. Article III lists the DFMS officers and the proceeds to identify who those people are. In the present canons, the DFMS Treasurer is the person who is the Chief Financial Officer of the Executive Council.

Resolution A0009 says that the Treasurer—presumably, the Treasurer of the DFMS—is also the Chief Financial Officer of the DFMS. (I don’t pretend to understand the difference between a Treasurer and a Chief Financial Officer, by the way, but I am led to believe that, in the arena of corporate organization, the two positions have different duties.) This provision is actually redundant, as the proposed Canon I.4.1(o) says that the DFMS Treasurer is also the DFMS Chief Financial Officer. It also says that the DFMS Treasurer is nominated by the Council’s Chair and Vice Chair. Notice, however, than in the current arrangement, it is the Chief Financial Officer of the Executive Council who is so nominated. In the new Canon I.3, Executive Council is without its own Treasurer or Chief Financial Officer. The significance of this is unclear, but it cries out for an explanation. The conventional understanding has been that the Board of Directors of the DFMS is Executive Council. That arrangement seems confused in the TREC report.

The matter of financial officers is further confused by the introduction of the Church Treasurer, who, according to proposed Canon I.4.1(g) is on Executive Council, though without vote. Who is the Church Treasurer? This person is given duties in the TREC report and provision is made for removing the incumbent, but nowhere does the report say how one becomes Church Treasurer. Is this someone different from the Treasurer of General Convention and that of the DFMS. Who knows? General Convention deputies had better find out.

What about the Secretary of the DFMS? In both current and proposed polity, the Secretary of the General Convention is designated the Secretary of Executive Council. In the proposed Canon I.3, however, the identify of the DFMS Secretary is never specified. Moreover, several lines concerning the DFMS Secretary have been stricken. What is going on here? Again, General Convention deputies had better find out what is going on here.

What is most perplexing about the proposed Canon I.3 is the changed nature of the DFMS. Two major changes have been made to Article I of the DFMS constitution. First, of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America has been stricken from the name of the DFMS. Second, the DFMS now includes “all persons who are members of the Church.” The task force is changing the name of the DFMS and throwing everyday Episcopalians out of it!

A quick history lesson is appropriate here. The DFMS was created in the early days of the church to extend the church into newly settled areas of the country and to spread the Gospel abroad. As a corporation, it could collect money, whereas the unincorporated Episcopal Church could not. At first, it was financed by subscriptions, but it was eventually decided that mission was the work of everyone, so everyone was included in the DFMS, which was incorporated in the state of New York. In the modern church, the DFMS and The Episcopal Church have essentially been coterminous. Only the lawyers and accountants could tell them apart, and the distinction was of no interest to the average Episcopalian. Lately, however, Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church has been identifying the general church’s staff as The Missionary Society, in an apparent attempt to distinguish it (or the DFMS) from The Episcopal Church proper. (I do wish the General Convention would put a stop to this nonsense, but I don’t want to get into that here.) I think the purpose of this unilateral renaming is to polish the image of the New York office, which has not always been viewed favorably in the hinterlands.

Article I of the DFMS constitution that TREC would have the General Convention adopt seems to have the effect of disconnecting the DFMS from The Episcopal Church and its members. This appears to be a public relations ploy or power play or both. General Convention deputies had better figure this one out as well.

Some Final Thoughts

 

Irrespective of how one feels about the wisdom embedded in “Engaging God’s Mission in the 21st Century: Final Report of the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church,” the report is frankly an impenetrable mess. Even discounting the fact that recommendations are presented with very little analysis and justification, what is actually being recommended is very difficult to wrap one’s mind around. Additional text and a few key diagrams could have gone a long way toward helping deputies understand what they might be expected to vote on in Salt Lake City.

Evidence suggests that the members of TREC had lots of discussions, including discussions about the shape of the final report. That report was probably assembled hurriedly and without much checking for consistency and unintended consequences.

One thing is certain. If deputies simply read the TREC report without studying it for hours on end, they will have little idea of what the proposed changes actually mean for the church. Pray for the General Convention.

April 18, 2015

A Packaging Suggestion

Honey Nut Cheerios
I bought a box of Honey Nut Cheerios the other day and opened the box at breakfast yesterday morning. Like every other dry cereal I know about, the product is packed in a bag that is hard to open and impossible to reseal. (I use clips to secure the bag after I’ve rolled down the top, but this is hardly a perfect solution to keeping the cereal fresh.)

Why is it that cereal makers have not developed packaging that is easy to open and easy to close? Shredded cheese, for example, often comes in a plastic bag with a tear-off top and a built-in two-part seal. The design isn’t ideal, but it’s more user-friendly than anything one finds in a cereal box.

I don’t think cereal packaging has changed since I was a boy. Isn’t it time that it did?

CEREAL EATERS OF THE WORLD UNITE! Tell General Mills, Kellogg’s, Post, etc., that new packaging is needed.

April 14, 2015

Blog Post One Thousand

I’ve been writing this blog since 2002, that is, for more than 13 years. According to my very first post, I was inspired by an article in Time to begin this project. That first post was a promise of things to come, and, in retrospect, was a fair introduction. I changed the formatting of the blog at some point, however, so that the links referred to in the post as being on the left are now on the right. It isn’t practical to keep such references up-to-date, though I do occasionally change a link that’s no longer correct.

1000
This blog post is my one-thousandth effort, which means that I have written an essay here about once every five days for 13 years.

In that first post, I implied that my blog, like my Web site, would be eclectic. I suggested that many posts would deal with political subjects. Little did I realize that well over half my posts would be religion-related. You can check this out on my blog’s Table of Contents, an unusual feature of my blog that I created to make it easier to find old posts. (The Table of Contents classified posts as religious, language-related, blog-related, and everything else, including political topics.)

I know more about what I write, of course, than who reads what I write. Posts about The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion tend to attract more readers that other essays, and, since I do write about religion a lot, I feel justified in having a Blogging Episcopalian badge on my blog pages. Many readers are clearly Episcopalians. Some readers, mostly Episcopalians, I presume, have signed up to receive notice of my church-related posts.

I wish I had more readers of my political and linguistic posts. I probably don’t write enough about such topics to attract a regular readership, however. My occasional poems that I post seem to be read least of all (sigh!). If any of you reading this are poetry fans, check out the Poetry section of my Web site.

When I began writing my blog, I did not provide for comments. I was concerned that reading and responding to comments could become a serious time sink. (Posts on Father Jake Stops the World, a blog I read regularly, often attracted more than 100 comments.) As it happens, I needn’t have worried and would usually like to see more comments and genuine discussion on the site. I am told that many blogs are attracting fewer comments these days—some of the conversation has moved to Facebook, for example—though lively conversations are common on Thinking Anglicans and blogs hosted by periodicals. Are my posts insufficiently stimulating, or are they so comprehensive that there is little left to say? I have no idea. Would anyone like to explain why they never leave comments?

Anyway, thanks for reading. I hope you will find the next thousand posts worth reading.

April 13, 2015

Irritating Closed Compounds

The beginning of the baseball season has reminded me of one of my pet peeves—the closing up of compounds that produce spellings that invite misreading or mispronunciation. For example, when one writes ground out as groundout, the resulting word looks as though it should be voiced as groun-dout, which obscures the meaning. The word I find most annoying, however, is fundraising (along with fundraiser, etc.). The word appears to be fun-draising. (A related peeve is the use of fundraise as a verb. Why say He will fundraise for the charity instead of He will raise funds for the charity?)

Many compounds that began as open compounds or hyphenated ones get closed, and the language is no worse for the development. Railroad comes to mind. In past times, it was written as rail road or rail-road. The modern spelling cannot be wrongly divided into syllables, since the digraph lr is unknown in English. Other innocuous compounds include driveway, carriageway, dishwasher, cowboy, sideline, etc.

April 11, 2015

An Easter Vigil Not to Boycott

I was surprised to read Crusty Old Dean’s blog post “Why I Boycott the Easter Vigil: This Service Will Not Stand, Man!” The Easter Vigil is the highlight of the church year and my favorite church service, and I was upset that COD, with whom I agree more often than not, seemed to have a very different view.

As it happens, COD is not opposed to the Easter Vigil in principle. Instead, he believes that we have tamed the service in a way that saps its power. He explains
This is why, by and large, I boycott the Easter Vigil.  The Easter Vigil proclaims the craziest thing about Christianity:  that shameful, humiliating failure that is Good Friday is not the end, that God raised Jesus from the dead in a way we can never understand or comprehend, and that, in doing so, God rejiggered how we relate to one another and to God for all eternity.  That is f*****g [sic] nuts, people. Or, to paraphrase the ancient church theologian Tertullian, “I believe it because it is absurd.” 
He further says that
The reason Crusty boycotts most Easter vigils is because they rarely communicate this. Instead, they mostly have seemed to be just kind of longer versions of every other Sunday service.
COD then describes an Orthodox Easter Vigil, which begins late at night and is quite explicit about Jesus being dead following the events of Good Friday.There is actually a tomb (more like a coffin, apparently) in the darkened church. COD notes that the priest enters the church around midnight. He then describes what happens next:
The cloth is lifted from the tomb, carried over the head of the priest, and the congregations processes outside and around the church three times, before stopping at the front door as I first experienced. The pounding on the door by the priest is a ritual re-enactment of the rock to the tomb cracking open, as he shouts, “Christ is Risen!” the doors open. You know when the resurrection happens in an Orthodox Easter Vigil. Once you process back inside, the church has been completely redecorated and is dazzling white, and the service itself includes a whole host of prayers and hymns you never hear any other time, as well as the same sermon preached every year, as the Easter Homily of St John Chrysostom is read. You could never, ever, ever mistake the Easter Vigil, as my dad did, as just a longer version of the regular Sunday service.
It was this paragraph that convinced me to write this particular essay, as I believe that I have both taken part in and had a hand in planning Easter Vigils in an Episcopal parish that fully communicated Jesus’ journey from death to life. As for the sermon, I only just wrote a blog post (“The Best Easter Sermon Ever”) promoting the John Chrysostom sermon.

Fourteen years ago, I wrote “An Easter Vigil Memoir” describing my impression of my first Easter Vigil. I eventually became involved in planning the Vigil for St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon. Over the years, we fine-tuned the service. Perhaps it was never as dramatic as the Orthodox service that COD loves, but I suspect that he would nevertheless approve. (We never walked around the church, which is on a hill and difficult to walk around.)

Alas, my current rector is not big on drama, so I’m sure COD would not like the current Easter Vigil at St. Paul’s. I haven’t attended in years myself, though I have not found a Vigil that really excites me. Perhaps I should attend an Orthodox church next year. (I had never thought of that before.)

Anyway, let me describe the features of St. Paul’s’ Vigil of former years and explain why I think the service would meet with COD’s approval. The service begins in darkness, of course. The new fire is started outside and is brought into the church more or less in the normal way. In some years, the congregation began in the church, in other years people entered with their candles from outside, following the Paschal candle. The altar party enters wearing black cassocks. All this is pretty straightforward.

The Old Testament lessons are read in a dark church, interspersed with music and collects. (I always argued for nine readings—this became something of a standing joke in Worship Commission meetings—but we never read more than four.) After the last reading, the altar party left the chancel—their leaving was hardly noticed, as the church was still very dark—and returned unseen to the narthex via the undercroft. Meanwhile, members of the Altar Guild removed black veils from flowers around both the high altar and the altar at the crossing. They also brought in additional flowers.

While the Alter Guild was busy, the altar party had changed into vestments that would be normal for a Sunday morning Eucharist. Then comes what I consider the exciting part. With the church still in darkness, there comes a knock at the door at the rear of the nave. Someone inside says, “Whom do you seek?” A voice from the narthex replies, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Inside, the voice—it is the rector’s—says, “Alleluia. Christ is risen.” As the congregation responds, “The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.,” all the lights come up, a fanfare is played by organ and brass, and a second procession takes place, with the altar party arrayed for the Eucharist. After the fanfare, the Gloria is sung as the candles in the chancel are lit. Then follows the sermon and Baptism.

By placing the Easter acclamation before the sermon and Baptism, those parts of the service can be both more joyous and better illuminated.

Not only is the dialogue at the back of the church dramatic, I find that I cannot even describe it without tearing up. It is a moving moment that I think even COD would appreciate, as it well symbolizes the journey of Jesus from death to life. The dialogue is not in the prayer book, of course, but there is evidence that its origins are ancient. It recalls the women’s experience at the tomb on the first Easter morning.

Note: I wrote about staging the Easter Vigil last year, but it seemed appropriate to revisit the topic in light of the COD post. Interested readers may want to look over my notes on the Vigil from the last year in which I was involved.

April 7, 2015

A Proposal to Improve Oil Train Safety

In the May 2015 issue, Trains columnists Don Phillips and Fred W. Frailey each address the dangers of carrying oil by rail. This is a topic of great concern to the public at large, given the recent spate of derailments resulting in exploding tank cars. The columns are not reassuring.

Don Phillips emphasizes the necessity of shipping oil by rail and points out that many other equally dangerous commodities—he mentions chlorine and anhydrous ammonia—can also be found on our trains. I think I was supposed to find this reassuring:
There has not been a single death in an oil-train wreck in the United States in six years, and little off-rail damage. Even if the fiery wrecks had been in cities, oil tank cars generally don’t explode immediately. There is usually time to evacuate.
Phillips seems to think that reporters are paying too much attention to derailments involving oil tank cars in the aftermath of the Lac-Mégantic disaster in Quebec.

Fred Frailey avoids blaming the messengers and attempts to provide some useful context in which to view oil train accidents. He is decidedly not reassuring, noting, for example, that, in a number of recent accidents, the tank cars involved have been the reputedly safer CPC-1232 variety, not the much maligned DOT-111 design. Accidents happen, and, even though something like 99.995% of railcars carrying crude oil reach their destination without incident, that percentage is still not 100. Given the incidence of derailments in the U.S., Frailey estimates that we can expect “nine or 10 accidents annually involving loaded crude-oil trains.” He urges railroads to improve safety through increased maintenance and inspection. Accidents have decreased by half in the last decade, but more progress is needed.

If crude oil is to be moved by rail, can its transportation be made safer by means other than maintenance and inspection? In theory, of course, the answer is yes, but costs can be prohibitive. Phillips suggests that shipping blocks of tank cars in regular manifest trains rather than in unit oil trains “would be too complicated and too costly.” Frailey, acknowledging that moving oil trains at lower speeds would decrease the frequency of serious accidents, argues that the effect on rail traffic generally would be crippling, as it would decrease the carrying capacity of the existing rail infrastructure.

Any safety improvements in rail shipment of crude oil will come at a price, and no change, no matter how costly, will reduce risk to zero.

A Proposal

A suggestion I have not heard is the use of idler cars in oil trains, that is, empty flatcars or boxcars placed between tank cars or cuts of tank cars. What has been particularly scary about oil train accidents has been the successive explosion of adjacent cars. Idler cars would tend to limit the number of oil-laden cars leaving the track in a derailment, as well as offer something of a firewall between tank cars. (Boxcars, which are plentiful, would probably work better than flatcars in this application.) No doubt, Don Phillips would complain about the cost and complexity of this safety move, but I would argue that it isn’t that complex. A cost-benefit analysis would be needed to choose the optimum number of loaded tank cars between the idler cars. In light of recent accidents, I suspect that number is less than 20, perhaps a good deal less.

My proposal would cost money, but it undoubtedly would decrease the severity of oil train derailments, even if no other steps were taken to improve safety.

April 4, 2015

The Best Easter Sermon Ever

One Easter, the Rev. Michael Randolph, who was then interim rector of St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon, used the famous Easter sermon by Saint John Chrysostom as his own Easter sermon. I don’t remember if the sermon was preached at the Great Vigil of Easter, Easter Sunday, or both. Michael was very theatrical, however, and he did a remarkable job of preaching this wonderful sermon. I love this sermon because it is joyful and brief. Could an Easter sermon possibly be any better than this one? For many years, I encouraged priests at St. Paul’s to use this sermon as their Easter message, but I never convinced any of them. Too bad. The text below is from Anglicans Online.


The Easter sermon of John Chrysostom (circa 400 AD)


Are there any who are devout lovers of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!

Are there any who are grateful servants?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!

If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.

To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.
Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!

First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!

Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hell when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.

Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”
Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.

Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

O death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!

Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!