Lamentations and the Hope of the Resurrection

lamentation icon

“Woe is me!” the Virgin
mourned through heart-breaking sobs.
“You are, Jesus, my most precious, beloved Son!
Gone is my light, and the Light of all the world!”

“God and Word eternal,
O my Gladness and Joy!
How shall I endure Your three days inside the tomb
when my heart is breaking with a mother’s grief?”

“Who will give me water,
and a fountain of tears,”
cried the Virgin Bride of God in her deep despair,
“that in grief for my sweet Jesus I might weep?”

Witness to Your death,
through her bitter tears Your all-pure Mother
weeping, cried aloud unto You, O Christ:
“Do not linger with the dead, for You are Life!”*

Sorrow and grief are exceptionally visible in the lamentations. The sorrow narrated is that of a mother’s seemingly inconsolable agony. Yet the beauty in the lamentations is the presence of hope and anticipation of the resurrection.

Notice within her sorrow how the Mother of our Lord asks how will she endure His three days in the tomb! In the last stanza she entreats her Son to not linger, because He is the Life!

One of the most remarkable aspects of our faith, and truly one that defines us from all other Christian denominations is our constant hope in the resurrection and our understanding of who Christ is.

Jesus was fully human, subjecting himself to death, but He is also the Life so that we may live! When we know this, as the Virgin Mary would have known, we are able to fully comprehend that death is conquered. There is always bitterness and sorrow in loss, but there is also joy in the resurrection to come! When we know that Christ’s resurrection restores the possibility of the fullness of perfection and eternal life with our Lord.

The western’s major emphasis on Christ’s passion and our corruption is completely contrapositive to the Orthodox view. We understand Christ’s immense passion, pain and suffering as his genuine and immeasurable love for us. We understand that it was through that sacrifice that the door to salvation was opened to us and that death, which humanity once succumbed to at the expulsion of paradise is now the doorway to life.

Let us mark the end of our fast with joy in the hope of the resurrection as our blessed Theotokos did!

*The lamentations are sung on Great and Holy Friday evening. They are a set of stanzas that go back and forth between our own hymns and songs to the words of the Theotokos. I have selected 4 stanzas form this work. The first three are in order midway through the service and the fourth comes much later.