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NEW YORK: April 2, 2010
Paschal Epistle of His Eminence HILARION,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia 

Now are all things filled with light: heaven and earth, and the nether regions…
Let all creation celebrate the arising of Christ,
in Whom we are established.
(Paschal Canon, Ode III) 

Dear archpastors, pastors, monastics,
and all the faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad! 

CHRIST IS RISEN! 

By the mercy of God we have reached the end of the period of the Great Fast, when we strove to purify our souls and thoughts by fasting and prayer, preparing ourselves for the great and triumphant feast of the Pascha of the Lord, the radiant Resurrection of Christ, the feast which the Holy Church calls the "Feast of feasts and Triumph of triumphs." For Pascha is not only the commemoration of the most noteworthy event in the history of the world; it is the essence and meaning of our present and future life. 

Christ is risen! In this lies the meaning of the entire Orthodox confession of faith. "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain," says the holy Apostle Paul (I Corinthians 15:17). And the apostle does not use this word by chance, inasmuch as it is precisely in the light of the Resurrection of Christ that the fullness of man's salvation is made accessible to him. 

For believers the greeting of Pascha, which is an image of the life to come in the Kingdom of Heaven, has become possible exclusively thanks to the fact that we all abide in the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" (Symbol of Faith), which the Lord Himself has founded and established as the earthly site of our salvation. For our strengthening in the Faith and our edification, the words of the Savior resound: "I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). 

In the Church we accept Holy Baptism; we find guidance in the Faith; we have an opportunity to repent of our sins; we receive a blessing for every good undertaking in our life; we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. It is with particular clarity during these paschal days that the believing people contemplate the greatest hidden mystery of the Eucharist, and to the believers' eyes the risen Christ's presence in the Church is itself revealed. During these radiant paschal days, in our earthly life we already have the possibility of acquiring in truth the grace-filled gifts of the Holy Spirit, singing with one mouth: "Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus…" 

Let us remember that the Church, which our Lord Jesus Christ founded on earth, is a stranger to the spirit of division, schisms and worldly enmity. To be part of this Church is a great joy, but at the same time a great responsibility. And for this reason, abiding today in the joy of the triumph of the Resurrection of Christ, let us drive far from our life the spirit of divisions and schisms, the spirit of sinful self-love, mindful that there is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5). 

During these radiant days, let us remember the sick and the poor, the lonely and the lost, those who in their futile pursuit of false ideals have failed to find the meaning of true life — life in Christ and with Christ. Let us be good laborers in the field of Christ, and "thy Father, Who seeth in hidden, shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:4). 

I call upon all of you, my beloved: preserve the purity of the holy Christian Faith which has been given us by the holy Fathers; share the body of this Faith with those near and far; in every place and in every activity "see then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 15:16). 

Again and again I congratulate all of you on the great and saving feast of the Resurrection of Christ! May these holy days become for you days of radiant spiritual joy. May the Lord grant unto you who believe in His Resurrection strength of soul and body, wisdom, patience, consolation and love. 

Again I greet you with the words of the most joyous paschal greeting: 

CHRIST IS RISEN!
TRULY HE IS RISEN! 

Hilarion,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad
New York, Pascha 2010