Orthodox America

  A Cause for Rejoicing

Paschal Epistle of the President of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

Honored pastors and flock, beloved of God!

     Our lenten struggle is coming to an end, and each of us is approaching Pascha, bearing in his soul the fruits of his labors which he has acquired during these holy days. There can be no Resurrection without a Golgotha, and in the image of this truth we have striven to walk our own modest path of the Cross that we may be counted worthy to partake in the radiant joy of Pascha.

     The Pascha of Christ is the ultimate goal of the economy of God, the realization of all the prophecies of Sacred Scriptures. The Apostles of Christ went forth to preach to the whole world of the Resurrection of Christ, and with this preaching they subjected the pagan world. With our resurrected Lord our entire Faith, our piety and our divine services have issued forth from the tomb of the Lord, for, in the words or the Apostle Paul:

    "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. (I Cor. 15:14)

Without the Resurrection of Christ there could be no Christianity. It would not be enough to call the Resurrection of Christ a dogma: it is the Mystery of all mysteries. As all rivers, streams and brooks make their way to the ocean, so does all Christian doctrine aspire toward Pascha, toward the Resurrection of Christ, and in it lies its conclusion. Such is the great significance of Pascha, the summit of all the feasts, the heart of the Holy Orthodox Church. The entire world, all peoples, in the very depth of their souls, know our Orthodox Pascha with the inner knowledge of their conscience. On this day they come to our churches in great number s, to take from their souls the icy chill of the darkness of the contemporary world. Such is the power and riches of this great Day, that even those who revile us fall silent; those who persecute us move away; and the fire of Gehenna, which fills the hearts of those who hate us, is quenched.

     Pascha is a foretaste of the ultimate victory of Christ over all the powers of evil. And when we return again to the greyness of our everyday existence, and when sorrows and oppression visit us, let us light the Holy Week candle before the holy icons, that candle with which we trace the cross on the lintel of the door of our dwelling; let us kneel down and entreat the Lord to have mercy on us and forgive us; and then let us chant the Paschal troparion:

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life.

     May the Lord help us to bear Pascha throughout our life, for Christ is truly risen!

Metropolitan Vitaly Chief Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad