Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
O Christ, Thou Pascha great and most holy! O Thou Wisdom and
Word and power of God!
Grant that more perfectly we may partake of Thee in the never-ending
day of Thy Kingdom.
(from the 9th Ode of the Pascha Canon)
Dear in the Lord Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, and Children!
I greet you with the Radiant Resurrection of Christ and wish you
from the Risen Lord all the good things both spiritual and physical
that are needful for our eternal salvation.
CHRIST IS RISEN!
No matter how many times we may pronounce these words they awaken
in our believing Orthodox hearts every time radiant, joyful feelings.
If we sometimes rejoice in the sun and its warmth, not ceasing to
be enamored of the reflection of the evening light of the setting
radiant heavenly body, then even more will our hearts never cease
to rejoice at the most radiant event—the Resurrection of Christ!
Can we compare this with any other joy? The light of this eternal
joy fills the Orthodox believing soul with happiness; in these two
short words of the Paschal greeting the entire essence of our faith
is expressed, the entire strength and unshakability of our hope
in the Lord, the sensation of all of the sweetness and all of the
blessedness of our life with our Most Sweetest Savior. In our souls,
during Passion Week, we just experienced the suffering of our Lord
Jesus Christ for the sins of all people. We know that the mercy
of God and the Redeeming sacrifice of the Resurrected Lord will
not save from eternal punishment that sinner, who remains unrepentant
in his sins and remains obstinate in them. However, be glad and
rejoice, rejoice O repentant sinner in the Resurrected Lord and
Savior! He rose again for your joy in the never-ending ages, so
that you, having been forgiven, would be with Him in that place
where He ascended after His struggle. For this reason St. John Chrysostom
in his fiery Paschal Sermon says: "Let no one weep for his
sins, because from the tomb forgiveness shone forth for us all!"
Do not weep for those sins in which you are repenting, because The
Saviour suffered for you, He shed His Blood for you, He suffered
and rose again – and in the name of this Blood He now embraces your
repentant soul. The Resurrection of Christ is celebrated not only
by the Church on the earth, but also by the Heavenly Church, the
Church Triumphant. In the Kingdom of Heaven there is no sickness,
no sorrow, no sighing, but life everlasting. Salvation of the soul—this
is the goal of the entire life of an Orthodox person. And it is
specifically the salvation of our souls, the triumph over sin that
the Resurrected God demands of us. Salvation of a person's soul
cannot occur without Divine participation, because it is the gift
of the Lord. Pascha is an enormous spiritual joy, which gives us
the opportunity to be participants in the "never-ending day"
of the Kingdom of God and truly (i.e. more closely than possible
in earthly conditions) to commune with the Lord.
May the Risen
Christ help us to always remain in the Paschal joy and to achieve
eternal salvation! Amen.
The Pascha of Christ, 2004