Paschal Epistle of His Eminence, Hilarion,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Your Eminences, Fellow Hierarchs, God-loving monks and nuns, priests and deacons, beloved in the Lord brothers and sisters!
Christ is Risen!
A wondrous energy lies hidden in these words and penetrates the whole soul: Christ is Risen! How joyous are these words for the soul of a Christian! Can more festive words than these be found in the entire human language? These joyous words were first uttered by the Angel to the Myrrh-bearers who had come to the life-bearing Tomb. With our mind's eye we see Christ Resurrected and hear His sweetest words to the Myrrh-bearers: Rejoice! (Matt. 23:9). The Resurrected Lover of Mankind directs the same joyful greeting to us: Rejoice!
With Paschal jubilation I greet all of you with this radiant world-saving triumph of Christ's Resurrection! Rejoice, and again I say, rejoice! May each one of you, partaking of the joy today of Christ's Church, overcome the sorrows and crosses you bear in life; overcome the despondency due to personal sinfulness, and the temptations and scandals which surround us. With a breath of festive compunction let us and those around us partake of the many faceted mercies and blessings of this all-good and radiant celebration. For the Feast of Pascha is not just another ordinary festival or proclamation of resurrection; it is not a mere promise of life eternal for people; it is the triumph and victory over all grief and anguish, over all sorrow and sadness of this earthly life.
May this Paschal joy, this triumph of life reign throughout our Russian Church Abroad, in each parish, in each monastery, in each family, so that "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3), spoken of by the Apostle, may be visible within our church life. And may whatever transpires among us be peaceful, amicable, cordial, and according to the precepts of the Church!
As St. John of Kronstadt expresses in his writings: "May our joy of the Resurrection be rational, deep, holy, and dynamic. May it move us to greater love of the Resurrected One, to a life of holiness and mutual love." Amen.
With Paschal joy in the Resurrected Christ and a request for your prayers,
+Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
Paschal Epistle of His Grace, Thomas,
Auxiliary Bishop of the Antiochian Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic
Beloved brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, God-fearing Monastics, and all my Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ our True God:
Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!
When Christ had risen from the dead on the third day and had shown Himself alive to His disciples, He ascended into heaven. He remained immortal and bestowed on us, with complete assurance, resurrection, immortality and truly blessed, eternal, incorruptible life in heaven. By means of the one death and resurrection of His flesh, He healed our twofold death and freed us from the double captivity of soul and body. (St. Gregory Palamas, "On Holy and Great Saturday")
The feast of Christ's glorious resurrection is now finally here, and we experience the greatest of joy possible for human persons not only because the Founder of our faith has risen from the dead, but because of what the resurrection means in terms of His incarnation. Because He is man, He was able to die. And because He is God, He rises from the dead. But our joy comes not only from a contemplation of the mystery of His identity as the God-man, but from what the death and resurrection of the God-man mean for us and do for us who are dying not only physically but also spiritually. Because He is a man rising from the dead, if we partake of His resurrection, we also will finally overcome the death of the body. And because His resurrection is from the power of His divinity, the spiritual death that we suffer is also trampled down by the conquering Christ.
Thus, as St. Gregory Palamas says, "By means of the one death and resurrection of His flesh, He healed our twofold death and freed us from the double captivity of soul and body." How great is the mystery of the death and rising of the Son of God Who is the Son of Man!
Yours in the Risen Christ,
Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS (Joseph)
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic