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Question 6.

Dear Fr. Christopher,
The holy light of Jerusalem does not reach every church of the Orthodox world. What is the origin of the light which is distributed by the priests who have not received the holy light and how can it be considered as consecrated?
 

Answer to Question 6.
Dear Constantine,

              Greetings in Christ. In the afternoon (about 2 p.m.) of Holy and Great Saturday, the Patriarch of Jerusalem enters the Holy Sepulchre and after saying the prayers for the light, awaits to receive it in the same miraculous way as it has always been received throughout the centuries. What happens in the rest of the Churches is only a symbolic act of the Jerusalem Light. In the service books used by the Church, the Resurrection service begins very differently from what is actually performed. There is no mention of "Δεύτε Λάβετε Φως" (Come and Receive the Light) because it was never part of the Resurrection service, but from the service of the holy Light, which was and is a unique service only performed at the Holy Sepulchre. The Resurrection service actually begins with the Priest singing "Την Ανάστασιν σου Χριστέ Σωτήρ" (Thy Resurrection O Christ Saviour). Τhe "Δεύτε Λάβετε Φως" (Come and Receive the Light) is a fairly new addition to the start of the service.

With the many pilgrims that visited Jerusalem at Easter, there arose a demand to have the Service of the Light in their own Churches. This was impossible, but the Church wanting to fulfil the people’s desire, took the "Δεύτε Λάβετε Φως" (Come and Receive the Light) and placed it at the beginning of the Resurrection Service as a symbolic commemoration of the miracle that takes place every year at the Holy Sepulchre. It also serves to remind us that the Orthodox Church is the True Church, for many other churches have in the past tried to beseech God for the light but without success. In most Churches, we usually have an eternal vigil lamp (ακοίμητη καντήλα), which is kept lit throughout the year. The Priest will light his 3 candles from this light and coming out to the people will sing "Δεύτε Λάβετε Φως" (Come and Receive the Light) whereby the people will light their candles. No special prayer is said for the light and no blessing by the Priest. It is a light that is constantly offered to God as a form of prayer. In that sense, it is different from just lighting a candle from a matchstick. It is customary to take home the light as a blessing, but you ask if it can be considered as consecrated. God doesn’t always need our prayers to send his grace upon something. We are often asked by people to give them the oil from the καντήλες (vigil lamps) so that they can cross someone who is ill. The oil is not Holy Unction (Άγιον Ευχέλαιο), but ordinary oil that is used to burn the lamp, but we hear of people recovering from their illnesses after being crossed with the oil. People take water from springs near monasteries and churches (Αγίασμα, not Αγιασμό) and again we hear stories of people being healed.

 

God sends his grace or performs miracles according to our faith; to help us grow stronger in faith and sometimes even because of lack of faith. In the Gospel story of the woman with the issue of blood we read, “And behold a woman which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him and touched the hem of his garment: for she said within herself, if I may but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be whole. But .Jesus turned him about and when he saw her he said, daughter be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole, And the woman was made whole from that hour” [St. Matthew 9: 2O-22]. Also in the Acts of’ the Apostles 19:12, we read that handkerchiefs and aprons that Paul had touched were placed on the sick and possessed and they were cured. These two accounts tell. us that we need faith if we are seeking for a cure or miracle, and that God often makes use of created matter to perform his works.

 

If someone believes that the light from the Resurrection service will give their home a blessing, then I would be inclined to agree with them. Never underestimate the power of faith. On a more spiritual level, the Resurrection light should be a spiritual enlightenment, for without this we will never understand the true meaning of the Resurrection and what Christ did for mankind.