Easter Epistle of the First Hierarch


"The angels in the heavens hymn Thy Resurrection, O Christ our Savior. Vouchsafe that we on earth may also glorify Thee with pure hearts." (Sticheron, Tone VI). How many feelings of radiant joy are contained in these words which begin the divine services of Pascha for the Orthodox Christian! They signify the arrival of the day of joy, the day of universal forgiveness, the day of mutual embraces, the day of victory over sin and death. On this day the gates of heaven open for us, and the Lord calls us all to His banquet, as Saint John Chrysostom says in his divinely inspired homily on Pascha: "Let all delight in the feast of faith; let all receive the riches of goodness! Let no one lament his poverty, for the common kingdom hath been revealed. Let no one weep over his transgressions, for forgiveness hath shone forth from the grave."

Before His sufferings on the Cross and His Resurrection, during His final discourse with the disciples, the Lord Jesus Christ entreated His Father: "And now come I to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves" (Jn. 17:13). The joy of Pascha cannot be compared with any other, worldly joy. Time and again each Orthodox Christian experiences it in his life. Yet it is only a feeble reflection of that perfect joy which we shall be vouchsafed to enjoy for endless ages.

We can sense the joy of the Resurrection of Christ fully only in His Holy Church, in which the grace of God is imparted to us in its Mysteries, in its divine services, in its orderly succession of church feasts, which gradually lead our souls to receive everlasting joy.

Let us cherish our Mother, the Church; let us strive to use her gifts for salvation; let us strive to live a spiritual life within her bosom, a grace-filled life, and not one that is spiritually empty and full of disputes and ecclesiastical squabbles which only darken the soul, destroy its peace, and deprive us of our joy in the Resurrected Lord. It is my prayer that all of you will spend the radiant days of Pascha joyfully and in a way profitable to your souls. With all my heart I greet all of our archpastors, pastors and the faithful children of our Church with the joyful and festive days of the radiant Resurrection of Christ. "
+Metropolitan Laurus

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