Paschal Epistle Of Bishop Stefan of Trenton (RTOC)

Hat tip: A.

Christ is Risen!

“Whoever is pious and God-loving, let him delight in this good and bright festival”!  With these words begins the paschal proclamation of Saint John Chrysostom.  It is majestic and insurmountable in its content!  By God’s providence the holy hierarch reveals to us the entire magnitude of the redemptive feat of the Son of God, His inexpressible goodness, His love, as well as His condescension toward our frailties:  “both ye intemperate and ye lazy, honor this day.  Those who fasted and those who did not fast, rejoice in this day.”
But should we react carelessly and with a smug smile to these and similar words?  Absolutely not!  We must realize, in the most serious manner, to what an indescribable degree God has loved us – that by the price of His blood He redeemed us from the curse of the Law and by His own death He trampled down death!  He, Who personally experienced all of our human frailties, is ready to forgive us all of our human weaknesses.  But on our part, we must fully realize His goodness and thank Him for His loving-kindness, abundant mercies and love for mankind.  We must glorify Him, the vanquisher of death and hell, and be faithful children of His holy Church.  This is precisely the required criterion.  Those who “came at the eleventh hour” are also called to the paschal feast of faith, but not those whose lamp has gone out.  The lazy person is called, but not the one who is indifferent toward his own salvation.  The one who did not fast is called, but not the one who has forsaken God, a heretic, an evil-minded cunning one, a servant of the darkness of this present age!  Our brethren of yesterday did not recognize the deviousness of ecumenical evil cunningness, but according to their own free choice agreed to the joining of the wise virgins with the unwise, the merger of the faithful with the unfaithful.
Our hearts filled with sorrow because of the betrayal which occurred, but this sorrow should not disturb or frighten us.  The Truth of Christ is not defined by the quantity of followers, nor is our paschal joy dependent on the singing of professional choirs, the magnificence of divine service rituals, the luxuriousness of vestments and flowers.  Paschal joy is a gift from God, abundantly bestowed, regardless of all earthly things.  Our joy in the risen Christ Saviour is a peaceful, grace-filled, mystical joy.  The world which lies in evil cannot know this joy.  The world cannot receive the Spirit of God “because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him: for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”  (John 14:17).

May this grace-filled paschal joy abide in all of you!  Amen!
+Bishop Stefan of Trenton and North America
Pascha, 2010