CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
Paschal Message of His Holiness Patriarch KIRILL of Moscow and All Russia to the Archpastors, Pastors, Deacons, Monastics and All the Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all” (Titus 2:11)
Beloved in the Lord Your Graces the archpastors, all-honourable presbyters and deacons, God-loving monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters! Оn the night imbued with the Divine light, replete with great solemnity and spiritual joy in the Lord of the world who has vanquished death, I address you all with the ancient exclamation that testifies steadfastly to our immutable hope: CHRIST IS RISEN!
Many generations of holy men and women have desired to comprehend even to the least degree that which occurred almost two thousand years ago at the heart of the light-bearing tomb of the Lord. They strove to make accessible to us, in as far as it is possible for the limited human mind, the knowledge of this wondrous mystery which was accomplished in the burial cave near the old walls of Jerusalem. They have sought out images which would bring us ever closer to an awareness of the truly cardinal transformation of the entire cosmos wrought by God on that night. St. John Chrysostom wrote of this event thus: “The day of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of peace, the beginning of reconciliation, the cessation of hostile actions, the trampling down of death, the vanquishing of the devil” (Homily for Holy Pascha). In the light of what has been said, the words of the leader of the apostles, St. Paul, are filled with a special meaning, for he likened the rising of the Lord from the tomb to the world being created anew and to a new creation of humankind. “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new” (2 Cor 5:17) – we read in the apostle’s Letter to the Corinthians. The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the main content of the Christian message to the world. It is only thanks to the sacrifice on Calvary, inextricably linked to the glorious Resurrection, that all human boldness that strives towards the Fount of all good things acquires meaning and value. Christ’s sacrifice was the response to the attempts made by people of various cultures and traditions to seek out the Living God, for, as Scripture states, the Lord “shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35), and He “desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). These intense efforts have embodied the hopes and expectations of millions of people, who at various times have ardently sought out the chance to overcome their lamentable state and have true “life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 1:.10). That which was predestined before the ages has been accomplished. Henceforth death no longer has such power over the human person – and now, “for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ” (1 Cor 15:22). This is why Pascha is also the most important Christian feast in that the humiliated and tormented Jesus of Nazareth, illumined by the Divine glory, “arose on the third day, having made for all flesh a path to the resurrection from the dead … that he might be himself truly the first in all things” (Anaphora of the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great). Today Christ again calls all of us to the feast of faith, to the feast of the Kingdom; he calls us to taste of the fruits of his redemptive sacrifice, to drink of the “water springing up into everlasting life” (Jn 4.14). However, our unity with the Lord cannot be limited to merely participation in worship or to our personal efforts in prayer. It must in full measure be reflected in all aspects of our lives. We cannot abide in carefree idleness knowing that around us are people who have yet to discover the joy of life in God, people who are suffering, the afflicted, the lonely, the downcast or in pain by way of illness. Our sacred duty is to ensure that the name of Christ is praised in all places so that people, in seeing good deeds accomplished for the glory of God, may partake in the Orthodox faith and turn their hearts towards the Father who is in heaven. Unfortunately, the evil human will and the temptations of the devil still operate in the world. Yet there should be no place for despondency in our souls, for in spite of all afflictions, cataclysms, conflicts and contradictions, we know that the Lord has “conquered the world” (Jn 16:33), that he has triumphed over sin and death. Therefore we have the opportunity to testify in word and deed to the grace bestowed upon us through communion with the Saviour thanks to our presence within his Church. Let us, then, be eager to fulfill the Gospel commandments so that those who are near and those who are far, in following our example may desire to become part of the triumph of faith and the richness of grace sent down by God on all his faithful children. Again I congratulate you all on the greatest of feasts – Pascha, the feast of the Resurrection of “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Rev 1:5-6).
CHRIST HAS TRULY RISEN!
Paschal Epistle of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad
Beloved Archpastors, Honorable Fathers, Dear in the Lord
Brothers and Sisters:
With a heart filled with the endearing sensation of Paschal joy, I congratulate the hierarchs, clergymen, monastics, parishioners and worshipers of our churches, scattered throughout the whole world, on the joyful celebration of the glorious Resurrection of Christ, and I greet you with the angelic good news: CHRIST IS RISEN!
I greet you with these holy, eternal words of Christian joy, I send you all prayerful wishes for Paschal communion with God, spiritual peace, firm health, boldness, well-being, and the many mercies and blessings of God, and express my heartfelt gratitude for your prayers, support and help in bearing the burden of obedience imposed on my unworthiness, and for your efforts and participation in the life of the Church. The words of the Paschal greeting, like the trumpets of the archangels, which will in time lift up all who have died, lift even now the morale of all Orthodox Christians as it does every year on the light-filled night of Holy Pascha. “Even the disbelievers,” wrote Archbishop Anthony (Bartoshevich) of blessed memory, “sense something special on this night, they feel that something is happening that they cannot comprehend.”
By His sacrificial love and victory over sin, evil and death, Christ delivered enlightenment, purification from sin and renewal to all who genuinely believe in Him (Hebrews 10:10-14, Colossians 1:21-23). Piously partaking of the Mystery of His Eucharist on this “feast of faith,” towards which the great Chrysostom beckons us, let us seek the strength to “walk in the newness of life… not serve sin… and be alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:4-11). The Lord now awaits our renewal, while the mystical powers, through “grace by grace,” are given from the over-abundant spiritual fullness we receive in Christ (John 1:14-16).
St Tikhon, Patriarch-Confessor of All Russia, summons us to this renewal through his example, having 100 years ago meekly accepted the position of Patriarch, bravely leading the way to the Russian Golgotha for many millions of “living sacrifices,” the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, who are our shared treasure and the seed of the rebirth of the Orthodox Church. We archpastors are likewise summoned to this renascence by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which will take place during the days of Holy Pentecost, so that we may worthily, piously and in the spirit of wisdom perform the constructive, peace-making and salvific work of the Church, to perfect and improve her earthly life and all her works. We are also called towards renewal through all the celebrations of this important year—especially the 10th anniversary of the reestablishment of unity within the Russian Orthodox Church, which became possible through the patience, all-forgiveness and humility of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II and Metropolitan Laurus, who, in the words of Apostle Paul, “enlarged their hearts” (2 Corinthians 6:11), to accommodate all the faithful flock. The Lord calls upon us all towards this renewal, for, as St Gregory the Theologian writes, “Thus the day of spiritual renewal is honored!”
May our purifying and illuminating conscience, labors and life spread like a breeze from heart to heart throughout our diaspora like the “Pascha of purification” (Paschal canon, Ode 4)! May this call of the Resurrection on the third day of the Lover of Mankind, God, inspire our life in the Church, in society, in family and personal life to “glorify Him with a pure heart.” Amen.
With Paschal joy in the Resurrected Christ,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad.
Paschal Epistle of His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America
Reverend Fathers, Venerable Monastics, and Pious Faithful of the Western American Diocese:
Christ is Risen!
“This is the day which the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 117:24)
I greet you once again with the Feast of Feasts: Christ’s Glorious Resurrection from the dead. In the Resurrection we, the Lord’s most unworthy servants, experience the full power of His love and the selfless compassion He bestows on us. “We have seen the Resurrection of Christ,” and we feel ourselves duty-bound—though in reality it is no burdensome duty: it is our greatest joy—to proclaim Christ’s triumphant victory over death with exultation in our hearts.
Metropolitan Nikolai (Yarushevich) spoke in 1957 about our Paschal proclamation: “In these words, ‘Christ is Risen!’, we express the fullness of our faith, all of our strength and steadfastness of hope in our Lord God, the realisation of the sweetness and blessedness of life with our Sweetest Saviour.” Such is the enormous depth, and the full spiritual significance, of this phrase which so many say lightheartedly and nonchalantly, as a matter of tradition and custom!
Let us live out the joy of the Resurrection more deeply! Let us instead say these words with deep understanding, with awe, and with the magnitude of indescribable delight that led St. Seraphim of Sarov to greet all, year round: “Christ is Risen! For this is my joy!” And so, my beloved flock, may the love of Christ that is treasured in our hearts, enflamed in us through His Resurrection, enable us who hear this greeting to answer in full knowledge and faith:
Truly, He is Risen!
of San Francisco and Western America