ROCOR V/A: Paschal Epistle 2009

We are collecting and publishing all the encyclicals of various first-hierarchs for Pascha. We will be including them under the subheading “Paschal Epistles 2009”. If you have a copy of an Epistle we aren’t aware of, use our contact form above– let us know! NFTU

Christ is Risen!

Dear in the Lord fathers, brethren and sisters!

I congratulate all of you with the bright and radiant Feast of Christ’s Resurrection! This Paschal night, as well as during the services of the entire Paschal period, the temple is full with the sounds of the best New Testament Church hymn: “Christ is risen from the dead, having conquered death by death and to those in the tombs bestowing life.”

With His sufferings, His death on the Cross and His wondrous Resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ has reconciled us with God, freed us from the burden of the ancient law, sanctified our human nature, restored it and saved it from death by taking it into an eternal union with Himself.

Christ’s Resurrection is an image of the general resurrection of all people; even to the pagans and sinners, who also possess human nature, the Savior has promised an eternity. However, what kind of an eternity it will be, that will depend on the measure of each person’s fulfillment of God’s Truth and God’s laws.

“We celebrate death’s annihilation, the destruction of hell and the beginning of a different, eternal life!” And why these two triumphant words, “Christ is Risen!”, are so joyous ? That is because our soul, which is immortal, feels that eternal life of which they speak. The Orthodox Church with great magnificence and splendor celebrates Christ’s Resurrection, understanding its deep meaning and distinguishes these bright days with
special Paschal services in the great hopes of our salvation. “For we are saved by hope” says the Holy Apostle Paul (Rom. 8, 24). The salvation, of which speaks the Apostle, on the one hand is already accomplished, and on the other – the full and final salvation is only in our hope, which is one of the three Christian virtues (1 Cor. 13, 13) and it must be accomplished, according to the words of the Apostle, in patience (Rom. 8, 25). Our true hope is Christ the Savior, the Conqueror of death and hell, our Pascha, Lord the Life-giver.

Let us attempt, brothers and sisters, especially in these days of many varied temptations, to trust in the Lord with all our being, and He will not desert all those trusting in Him, since to those who trust in the Lord and love Him are given great promises in eternity. Death itself will be abolished, there will no longer be illnesses, nor
sorrows, nor sighings; the Lord will wipe every tear from our eyes, the bitterness of misfortunes will turn to happiness, and the sorrows with joy in Jesus Christ our Lord.

And that with this hope we might soften our sorrows, the Lord gives us each year the Paschal happiness, as a promise, as a foretaste of the future eternal blessedness in the Heavenly Kingdom. Amen.

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

+ Bishop Vladimir

Christ’s Pascha, 2009