Paschal Message of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia to Hierarchs, Pastors, Monastics and All Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church
Through Thy Cross, O Christ, Thou didst free us from the curse of old.
By Thy resurrection Thou hast filled all things with joy.
We thereby sing unto Thee:
Thou who hast risen from the dead, O Lord, glory to Thee.
Stanza for the Praises on Wednesday of Bright Week
Beloved in the Lord your graces the archpastors, honourable presbyters and deacons, God-loving monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters - faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church! From the depths of my heart, filled with joy in Christ who has risen from the dead and has raised up with Him the human race, I turn to you with the words of the good news which have resounded throughout the millennia and manifest the triumph of Christian faith: Christ is risen!
Today once more before our mental gaze stands the burial tomb with the rock cast aside, and once more we hear the words of the Angel, spoken to the myrrh-bearing women: 'Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen' (Lk 24: 5-6).
The Resurrection of Christ is the central event in world history, for thanks to the Saviour's redemptive act on the cross there has been overcome the abyss separating people from God, and the human person, once having fallen away from the heavenly Father, becomes a communicant of the Divine life.
Pascha 'so transcends all human and earthly conquests', says St. Gregory the Theologian, 'as the sun surpasses the stars'. Therefore for the Christian there is no more triumphant and great day as the day of the Resurrection of Christ, bringing salvation and Life Eternal.
We experience Holy Pascha not as an event of remote history, but as the triumph of the genuine encounter with Christ the Giver of Life who has risen from the tomb, and for this reason our hearts are filled with radiant spiritual joy. Let us cry aloud together with St. Andrew of Crete: 'Christ has risen today: People, rejoice and be radiantly triumphant! The Light has come, Christ has come, Grace has come, Truth has come! Life and Resurrection for all things has come!'
The vanquishing of death and the Saviour's victory over the powers of Hades grants to each the chance to transform his life, to become, as Scripture puts it, a 'partaker of the divine nature' (2 Pet 1:4), 'being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus' (Rom 3:24).
No one remains beyond the confines of this Divine action; all aspects of human nature are transfigured, healed and ascend to their dignity in the likeness of God. The spirit of division is alien to the Orthodox perception and view of the world. Therefore the Church calls upon her children to preserve chastity and inward integrity of the soul created according to the image and likeness of God, acquiring true life in the dedication of all its powers to its Creator and Provider.
May unity in faith in Christ and hope in His All-Beneficent Providence become the foundation for the labours of the faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church in order to communicate to our neighbours and those far removed from us spiritual joy in the Risen Lord - the joy which is the beginning of the transfiguration of the whole life of the human person.
My beloved! Like the myrrh-bearing women and the apostles of Christ, let us bring the joyous news of the Risen Christ to all those around us. We are called to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God with a sincere word, the accomplishing of good deeds and a Christian way of life. Let us bring the light of Christ's Resurrection to those places where people abide in the darkness of unbelief. Let us bring love to those places where hatred reigns. Let us bring charity to those who have been hardened, concern for those who suffer and peace to those at war. May our words and our deeds soften evil hearts, save people from destructive vices and help them in life's times of hardship.
'Let us be enlightened by the feast and embrace each other. Let us say: Brethren! And to those who hate us, let us forgive all things in the Resurrection' (Paschal stanza). My dear ones, let us follow the holy myrrh-bearing women so that we may ignite faith, love and hope in peoples' hearts with the news of the Risen Christ the Saviour. May worldly cares and everyday disorder, hardness of heart and indifference, misery and despondency, lack of faith and hostility never bring us to a halt on this wise and saving path. According to St. Ignatius (Bryanchaninov), 'faith in God, accompanied by the abandonment of hope in oneself, overcomes all anguish and temptations, vanquishes all obstacles'. Yes, the life of our country and peoples remains difficult; there is much evil and falsehood in it. Yet we Christians are called upon to vanquish the misery of this age through the promise granted to us.
On the radiant feast of Christ's Passover I call upon each of you to increase your labours so that our society be freed from sin and unbelief, so that malice, injustice, all misfortune and trials be softened by the goodness of our hearts. I testify that in her ministry for the good of the people our Church intends to co-operate further with the secular authorities and all people whose will is directed towards good.
Dear brothers and sisters, I remind you of the apostle's commandment: 'Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another' (Col 3:12-13). Let us accept the apostle's exhortation and be guided by it in our lives in glorifying the Risen Lord and our Saviour.
Again and again I cordially congratulate you on the feast of the Holy Passover of Christ. I sent congratulations to Orthodox Christians of all the world and to all those who confess the Risen Christ.
Christ is risen!
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
Pascha 2006 AD, Moscow
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