I recently got back to work after a couple of months off, and let me tell ya', the adulting is reaaaalll. Like most people who get a significant amount of time off work, I came to a "what-do-I-do-with-all-this-time" point in my life. So, I decided to let myself do something that I hadn't done in a while: think about something other than work. In the midst of my (somewhat) existential reflection time, I thought about the fact that my spiritual life always seems to intensify during the Lenten period, and reaches its peak at Holy Week. I find that this is generally true for most people, although there are spiritual champions, unlike myself, who can maintain a spiritual high all year round. So, what's their secret? You may disagree, but I think a huge part of staying on fire for Christ all year round is keeping his life-giving sacrifice, and glorious resurrection, at the forefront of our minds at all times. The entirety of Christianity rests on Christ's resurrection; St. Paul said it best, "And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty"(1 Corinthians 15:14). But, from a practical perspective, how can we really keep ourselves rooted in the truth of Christ's death and resurrection on a daily basis? I don't have all the answers – I actually have slim to none– but I was introduced to a graphic novel that a friend of mine, and her husband imagined and created, together. I honestly believe that this novel serves as an unconventional reminder of the power of Christ's resurrection for those both young, and old. Everyone has different ways of maintaining their spiritual life, and personally, I love reading about Him. If you, too, enjoy reading, I highly recommend giving this book a read. Without further ado, let's dive in.
The visual novel, entitled, Anastasis: The Harrowing of Hades, is a "symbolic reimagining,"– as described by Creative Orthodox– of the events in Hades leading up to, and immediately after Christ's crucifixion. While there is very little detail of the events that transpired in Hades upon Jesus' arrival, Old Testament prophecies, early Church Fathers' writings, and a rich collection of apocryphal writings, were used to create the storyline of Anastasis. Fun fact: "Anastasis" is actually Greek for "resurrection," and is quite fitting given the novel's overarching theme of the harrowing of Hades. The story starts 40 days after the incarnation, and follows the saints and patriarchs through their journey in Hades for the equivalent of 33 years on Earth. I appreciate that throughout this graphic novel, Creative Orthodox brings to light a story– notwithstanding its factual integrity– that is often overlooked when we discuss the three-day event that forever changed the course of humanity. We're cognizant of the crucifixion and the resurrection, but when it comes to the in-between, there's not a whole lot that is known for certain. Anastasis attempts to fill that gap in a way that is brilliant, creative, and well-researched. The novel is full of clever character sketches that will make you smile, and if you can't already tell, I really love this graphic novel.
Now, let's take a few steps back to the beginning of this piece; how do I keep the message of Anastasis alive in my daily life? Again, I don't have all the answers, but I think we ought to live as though we were captive and have been set free– because we were and we are. The saints and patriarchs, some of which are mentioned in Anastasis, know this quite well. They waited in Hades for centuries not knowing how, or who would redeem humanity from its sin. Every now and then, God sent prophets presenting a glimmer in the dust to those who patiently waited for a redemption plan. I can't speak for those who lived during these times, but can you imagine the hopelessness? Then, suddenly, a Man by the name of Jesus came to Earth, and the blind were receiving sight, the lame were walking, and the dead were being brought back to life; something that had never happened before in the history of humanity. In what appeared as a slight turn of events, He was condemned to death, and was crucified. Was this it? Were all of these miraculous events futile? We know what happens next, but they sure didn't. He descended to Hades, broke its chains, and took with him all of the faithful to Paradise. He then gloriously resurrected, and has given us the strength to look death in the face and say, where is your sting? So, if you were to ask me how I keep the spirit of Anastasis alive everyday, I'd tell you to stop living passively– and this goes for me, first and foremost. We were bought at a price, so let's glorify God in every aspect of our lives. This whole "passive living" narrative is quite popular in today's society, especially amongst millennials, and honestly, it's getting pretty old. We don't have all the time in the world. But, we have a God who valued, and values, us enough to lay His life down for us, and who would do it over and over again, without hesitation. Resurrection is not a thing of the past, but a reality of today. So, this begs the question, are we taking for granted Christ's sacrifice? Or, are we living for Anastasis?
"For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's."
1 Corinthians 6:20
Link to purchase graphic novel, "Anastasis: The Harrowing of Hades":