Alexander, Bishop of Buenos Aires and South America
(Translated into English by Dr. Steven Bushnell)
Christ is Risen!
greeting can call forth greater joy in a believing heart than these
victorious words. They say to us that death is defeated, that the
graves hide from us those near to us only for a time, and that the
hour is coming, known only to God, when all the dead, as one person,
will rise and will live by a new life, having no end. This greeting
says also that although untruth and evil are able to celebrate in
the conditions of our temporary life, good, truth, and love triumph
in the final reckoning, according to God's Providence. And what
can be more joyful than this? "For meet it is that the heavens
should rejoice, and that the earth should be glad, and that the
whole world, both visible and invisible, should celebrate. For Christ
is risen, the joy everlasting!" sings the choir at the Paschal
to the importance of the benefits received by us through the Resurrection
of Christ, Easter is manifest as the Feast of feasts and the Celebration
of celebrations, and so the Divine service of this feast is noted
for its majesty and unusual solemnity. Something miraculous is brought
about in our churches on the night of Easter. Those praying, having
gathered here, also look and feel somehow special: They stand in
bright clothes, transformed, joyous and peaceful, with burning candles
in their hands — exactly as angels of God in the cloisters of Paradise.
In Orthodox countries, especially in Russia and in Greece — a sea
of people. Those praying stand packed to the walls for hours, feeling
no fatigue. Already from evening have they gathered here. Old and
young, men and women, boys and girls — all have come to give praise
to the Risen Christ. Even the unbelievers come to church, to enjoy
the banquet of faith, to partake of the spiritual joy of the believers.
holy night a special grace of God is present in the churches, which
is as if it carries all of us in warm, heartfelt prayer to Heaven,
closer to our Savior. The clouds of incense, like the wings of angels,
hover over the heads of those in prayer. To the joyful greetings
of the clergy, "Christ is Risen!" the answering exclamations
of the faithful resound exactly like peals of thunder: "Indeed
He is Risen!" As if it is flaming lightening, the singing of
the choir illuminates and fills the temple: "Christ is Risen
from the dead . . . Let us purify our senses and we shall behold
Christ radiant, and shall hear Him say in accent clear: Rejoice!
. . . Let us embrace one another. Let us say: Brethren! And to those
who hate us, let us forgive all things because of the Resurrection
. . ."
what magnificence, what beauty there are in our Orthodox churches!
There burn thousands of candles, all pouring forth a wonderful light,
the very best ornaments visible everywhere, the clergy arrayed in
their brightest vestments. It is as if our blessed temples on the
night of Easter reflect within themselves that Divine light by which
Christ shone on that radiant night of His Resurrection.
spiritually sleeping go home early from the Paschal matins, not
waiting for its end and not wanting to participate in the Divine
Liturgy. Such people do not delight in the banquet of faith, are
not enlightened by the blessed rays of the Resurrection of Christ.
That which is corporal, transient, and sinful prevails in them over
that which is spiritual, clean, and heavenly . . .
are saved in hope," says the Apostle Paul. This means that
everything promised by God will be realized: And sin will become
repugnant to everyone, and the bitterness of separation will change
to the joy of meeting, and the Lord will take every tear away from
the eyes of the suffering, and sicknesses will disappear, and death
itself will be abolished and will become the endless joy of eternal
to calm our anxieties and ease our sorrows, in order to instill
in us new strengths, the Lord sends us Paschal joy every year —
as a comfort, a pledge and a presentiment of that which will be
of you, my dear ones, I greet with Paschal love: Christ is Risen!
+ Bishop Alexander