CANADIAN DIOCESE: May 9, 2013
Paschal Epistle of His Eminence Gabriel, Archbishop of Montreal and Canada
To the clergy and the entire beloved flock of the Canadian Diocese
of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
CHRIST IS RISEN!
Honorable Fathers, Beloved in the Lord Brothers and Sisters!
The grace-filled day of the Resurrection of Christ is come, when our faith is strengthened, hope increases, and love returns to life. Now, for the Holy Pascha of the Lord, as His Beatitude Metropolitan Anthony, the founder of our Russian Church Abroad, remarks, “even the evil become good, the envious become joyful, the despondent are find consolation. And those who before were firm and God-loving believers desire to embrace the whole world and to greet even those whom yesterday they considered their enemies.” With our own eyes we observe how the words of the paschal canon, which is chanted in all our churches in the homeland and the Diaspora, become incarnate: “It is the day of the Resurrection! Let us adorn ourselves with the splendor of the festival and embrace one another! And let us say, O brethren, even unto those who hate us: “Let us forgive all things at the Resurrection…”
Whence comes this special paschal joy to us? Beloved brethren and sisters, this is a genuine gift of the grace of God. On the day when He opens the gates of paradise by His resurrection, it is bestowed upon us through His mercy, that we may in part taste the very joy that the souls of the saved are granted in paradise.
The joy of Pascha is the triumph over the soul’s turmoil, over weak faith and divisions. It is the hallmark of the spiritual integrity which is so essential to us Orthodox, to the Russian Orthodox people. Thus, exactly four hundred years ago, through great tribulations and great labors, was victory achieved over the Russian Troubles, or better to say, the Time of Troubles was overcome. The Russian people revealed themselves to be an Orthodox Whole. It is precisely for this reason that they found grace-bearing power—and only then was meek Tsar Michael Feodorovich summoned to the Russian throne—the first of the Romanov Dynasty, whose four-hundredth anniversary we mark this year. Let us remember that neither Tsar Michael nor his mother contended for power: they did not take part in political intrigues, but on the contrary agreed to accept it only out of holy obedience to the Church of Christ, its hierarchs, submitting to the summons of the Local Council. And the young Tsar Michael did not wreak vengeance and slaughter the many followers of the lately-expelled alien power and the various pretenders of those times. The Orthodox sovereign, the bearer of the divinely established authority, brought to Russia loving-kindness and piety. And in Russia, so long as this trait remained the ideal in our everyday life, the divinely established authority of the Orthodox sovereigns was strong; and despite sinful human nature, nothing was able to destroy the Russian Sovereignty, which had only become strong amid trials. Today, we ought not to forget this. “God will help us only if we show pliancy instead of greed, love and forgiveness instead of malice, obedience instead of self-will” (His Beatitude Metropolitan Anthony). Only then will we be accounted worthy of the joy of Pascha, and the risen Lord will raise even us to a new, God-pleasing life, “that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
Truly Christ Is Risen!
Archbishop of Montreal and Canada
Pascha of Christ, 2013