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2014 PASCHAL ENCYCLICALS

ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE: ENCYCLICAL FOR HOLY PASCHA 2014

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople

We continue the work of the Apostles. We preach that death must not have place in our life for it offers no benefit to humanity.

Christ's resurrection

Christ is Risen!

Come, brethren and children in the Lord, receive the light from the unwaning Light of the Phanar, the Holy Center of the Orthodox, and let us all together and jointly glorify “Christ, Who is risen from the dead.”

The emotional state of the Lord’s disciples was grim after His Crucifixion, because by the Lord’s death on the Cross the hopes of His disciples were dispersed that He and they would one day prevail as political power. They had perceived the triumphant entrance of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, following the resurrection of Lazarus and the miraculous feeding of five thousand men, with additional women and children, by five loaves of bread and two fish, as a prelude of their conquering of secular authority. The mother of two of them moreover requested that her two sons sit by each side of the Lord, when He came to power. All these, however, dissipated aschildish imaginations on account of the awful execution of Jesus Christ.

But, one Saturday morning, the Myrrh Bearers found the tomb empty and heard from an Angel that Jesus was risen from the dead. Shortly after, they saw Him in a different state not allowing the Myrrh Bearers to touch Him. This unexpected development of the situation caused the people close to Jesus to wonder about what was to happen next. They did not receive the answer right away. They were told to wait with patience and endurance until they received strength from above. Obeying the command, they waited until Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down and revealed to them, in fullness, their new mission. This mission did not call for the liberation of one nation from its slavery bondages by another nation; instead it called for the liberation of all humanity from its enslavement by the master of evil and evil itself. This was another great mission and different from the one they had dreamt about.

The inconceivable commandment calling for the preaching of the message of man’s deliverance from the slavery of death took them by surprise; nevertheless they undertook it with zeal and preached the message everywhere and saved and continue to save many from death. There is the first among the dead, the risen Jesus, Who offers to all the gift of resurrection and eternal life, a life that is not subjected any longer to corruptibility, because man in the resurrected state is like an angel of God in heaven who no longer has a fleshly body but a spiritual one.

We experience already the foretaste of this blessed resurrected state when we carry our fleshly garment in a way by which we do not taste the substance of death, that is the distancing from God’s love, but feel that we transition from the natural death of our fleshly body to the higher life of our spiritual body through the loving knowledge of the Person of the Lord, a knowledge which equals towards eternal life.

Therefore, we are not simply in anticipation of the resurrection of the dead as an event that will take place in the distant future, but we partake in it now, and are jubilant and cry out along with Saint John Chrysostom: Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory? We were resurrected alongside Jesus Christ and experience the end of times as present reality and present reality as the end of times. The resurrection permeates our being and fills us with joy. Exactly like the joy the disciples felt when they were saying that the Lord was risen.

We continue the work of the Apostles. We convey to the world the message of the resurrection. We preach knowingly that death must not have a place in our life for it offers no benefit to humanity. The ones who seek to improve social life by killing fellow humans do not offer good service to the living. They rather serve the proliferation of death and prepare their own devouring by death.

In our times, the drums of death and darkness beat frantically. Some fellow men believe that the eradication of other fellow men is a praiseworthy and beneficial act, but they are seriously mistaken. Unfortunately, the annihilation and suppression of the weakest by the strongest dominates in the secular pyramid of today’s reality. Often we are shocked by the cruelty and lack of compassion exhibited by the powerful that hold the reins of the world, believing that they are actually the ones ruling it.

However, Christ, by His death on the Cross, reversed this secular pyramid and placed on top of it His Cross. He sits atop, because He suffered most than any man. There was no man in the world who suffered as much as God-Man Christ did: And being founding appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the Cross. Therefore God, the Father, also has given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth (Philippians 2:8-11).

Oftentimes in the history of humanity we see as prevailing forces the darkness of death, injustice over justice, hatred and envy over love, and we see that man chooses the infernal hatred over the light of the Resurrection. Despite the apparent technological progress of human societies, despite the declarations of human rights and religious freedom, racial and religious hatred swells universally and causes dangerous tensions, which exacerbate the dominion of the kingdom of death, Hades, and evil. Unfortunately, people can not tolerate diversity in their fellow human beings. They can not tolerate the different racial origin of other men, the different perceptions and beliefs of them, be it political, religious or social.

History, though, has proven that real progress can not exist without God. Not one society can be truly progressive and happy if there is no freedom. True freedom though is acquired only with our staying close to God. The history of the 20th C. tragically confirms this truth. Humanity experienced a horror that originated from Central Europe and produced millions of victims during WWII and racial persecutions. At the same time, it also experienced the horror that was sown by these so called progressive forces, which committed crimes of equal magnitude and cruelty in Eastern Europe in the name of freedom. Therefore, totalitarianism as an offspring of a humanity without Christ, does not recognize political parties and its natural conclusion becomes destruction and death. All of the above confirm that every attempt to reach freedom without God shall be doomed to tragedy.

To this dominance of the forces of darkness, the Church responds with the grace and power of the Risen Christ. He, Who took upon Himself the afflictions and infirmities of each man, offers to the world through His Resurrection also the certainty that death is vexed.

Resurrection and life are the gifts and the light of Jesus Christ, which “shines upon all.” Let us all honor this gift. Let us all thank the Giver Who by His flesh shone in the world like in a mirror, and has presented the light of the resurrection to the world. Let us then receive the light from the unwaning Light of Life. Let us receive and welcome the gift of the resurrection and cry out from the bottom of our hearts:

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling over death by death, and to those in the grave bestowing Life! Rejoice nations and be happy!

 The seal of His All Holiness BARTHOLOMEW Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch. He is the 270th successor of the 2,000 year-old local Christian Church founded by St. Andrew.

Holy Pascha 2014

† Bartholomew of Constantinople

Your fervent supplicant before God

Emblem of Ecumenical Patriarchate02

PASCHAL LETTER

His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East

Patriarch John X of Antioch

Christianity offered the world many values and numerous concepts. It offered and is still offering a lot of ideas through its theology, and we would rather reflect them in our reality. The Christian writings could not find a better expression to tell about its Master, Jesus Christ, rather than “The Word”.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God” this is what the Evangelist John said. This Word is Jesus Christ who visited humanity holding the letter of love and He “dwelt among us” or, literally speaking, as mentioned in Greek “pitched His tent among us” in order to make us citizens of heaven.

When the book of Acts speaks about our Lord Jesus Christ’s Resurrection, it describes it using three words “We are witnesses” . How much we really need to witness for the Resurrection of our Lord? And How great is to witness for our resurrection through That, Who dwelt among us, and through Him Grace and truth have been accomplished. But, How to witness for the Resurrection of our Lord, and how to live it?

We witness for it through love, as love summarizes all virtues. We witness for it when we contemplate through the path of Resurrection, sipping from it the nectar that guides our life. Godly love is the love that inaugurated the path of our resurrection when it showed us our Lord descending to our humbleness, lying in a manger for our salvation. It is the same love that brought Him to our lands, though He is the source of love, and it is capable to bring Him into our hearts. It is the Godly love that sent Him to us to walk the path of the Cross, penetrating through the darkness of the tomb, the darkness of the souls that were suffering under the burden of sin, rendering the thirsty souls the sources of salvation through the power of love.

Christianity offered the world many values and numerous concepts. It offered and is still offering a lot of ideas through its theology, and we would rather reflect them in our reality. The Christian writings could not find a better expression to tell about its Master, Jesus Christ, rather than “The Word”.

” Jesus is The Word, He is the logic of love. He was sent to tell us that humanity is called upon, through the logic of love, to knit the texture of its love addressed toward its Creator. ”

The message of the sons of Resurrection is the message of The loving Word, in front of whom, the logic of power, violence and extremism disappears. Their message is the logic of the loving convergence, without hiding behind other egos.

But this does not mean that the message of the Resurrection’s sons cannot make a distinction between love and complacency. Their message is a word that distinguishes between submission to the voice of love and forgiveness, and submission to the logic of surrendering.

” We are used to the voice of submission to the logic of dialogue and peace, but we refuse the submission to the logic of terrorism, extremism and declaring the others disbelievers. We are a word against the logic of conflict, but this does not mean that we are a word of submission in front of those who transgress our human and our sanctities. No matter how harsh time is, we are planted in our land, from its earth we implant the seeds of belief in God and Homeland in the souls of our sons. We are in it as spikes of wheat that sway with wings, but resist by the power of this who is powerful through love.”

The Authenticity of the term “word” in Arabic is guaranteed by the origin of this word. It comes from a verb that means “to make a positive effect in listener’s mind”. So, everyone is called upon not just to through his words in the winds, but to become a voice of truth that makes an effect in the hearts and minds of his brothers.

As our arm is the honest word, so we have to say it. Salvation of Syria comes through the logic of word and dialogue that preserves its sovereignty and the unity of its land. The anchor of its salvation is a word of conciliation, a word of truth against the logic of violence, extremism and terrorism. Syria’s resurrection will be through the civil state that opens its arms for everyone under its roof. It is our right to live secure in Syria, and it is our right and the international community’s responsibility to dry the sources of arms that displaced our sons from our country.

The logic of the word and dialogue is the only one capable to save Lebanon as well on the base of citizenship and coexistence. The whole political class in Lebanon is called upon to rise the country’s interests at the expense of its own interests. Lebanon has lived an experience that may remind all of us that the tax of wars and conflicts is more expensive than the tax of rapprochement and dialogue. This dialogue that preserves Lebanon as the heart of a stable East, holding the East as a guarantee for a safe world.

O God! Give us the spirit of your peace, bless our sons everywhere, be with those displaced, heal the wounds of our human, bestow peace upon us and upon your world, compass the souls of the reposed with the abundance of your mercy, reinforce and give us the power to console them that mourn, enlighten our eyes to see the light of your glorified Resurrection as a beginning of our countries’ resurrection, so we may chant both in mouth and heart:

“Christ is risen from the dead, Trampling down death by death, And upon those in the tombs Bestowing life!”

Issued from the Patriarchal Residency- Damascus

April 18, 2014

 Emblem of Patriarchate of Antioch

PATRIACHATE OF SERBIA: PASCHAL MESSAGE

His Beatitude Patriarch Irinej of Serbia01

I R I N E J

By the grace of God
Orthodox Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Serbian Patriarch, with the all the Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church – to all the clergy, monastics, and all the sons and daughters of our Holy Church: grace, mercy and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, with the joyous Paschal greeting:

CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!

Today is the Spring-time of our souls,
For coming forth from the tomb, Christ shines like the sun,
Dispelling the gloom of our sins!
We will sing out to Him, for gloriously has He been glorified!
(Paschal service hymn)

When an early spring arrives after a long and cold winter, all of nature and God’s creation rejoices in the sun and its warm rays and energy which illuminates and warms everything and all things without exception. Everything then glorifies the Lord, the Giver of sun and spring. So do we, dear brothers and sisters and our dear spiritual children, after a cold and terrible winter of sin, especially after the killing of the God-Man Jesus Christ on Holy Friday on Golgotha, seeing today the Resurrected Christ, do we joyfully exclaim and sing: Today is the Spring-time of our souls! Christ – the Sun of life from the East – has risen and shone from the tomb. He has expelled a dark storm of our sins! Him let us magnify for He has been glorified! That is why we are joyful today, that is why together with the angels in heaven and with all people of this world do we gloriously sing: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

Among the many names used by the Church hymnographers in praising the Resurrected Christ we notice the name Spring. Rightly indeed, they call Him so for the Lord Jesus Christ is the Spring of our new life. That is not a coincidental poetic construction. Here it is not the spring as an annual season that we talk about; rather, it is a deep understanding of the meaning and significance of spring as our beginning of new life of nature and everything in it.

Until the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, that is, until His descent into Hades, we were chained in the winter of sin and death in the depths of Hades. Death had reigned over us. Having descended into the grave, He has destroyed Hades, He has shattered the chains of sin and death and has freed us. In explaining the anthropological mystery of Christ the Saviour’s descent into the tomb, His stay there and His Resurrection, the Holy Apostle Paul exclaims: Death, where is thy sting? O Hell, where is thy victory? Contained in the mystery of the Resurrection – that is, in the mystery of the Resurrected Lord Christ – is our victory over sin, death and the devil. That is why it was necessary that Christ become Emanuel (God is with us); that is, it was necessary that He take upon Himself our entire human nature and indivisibly and without mingling unite it with the divine nature in His one and distinctive God-Man Hypostasis, so that as the God-Man (Theanthropos) He might win over Adam’s sin of disobedience to God the Father and destroy the consequences of the original sin. The God-Man Christ, not only God or only Man, defeated Satan, sin and death! This mystery of victory the Lord foretold even during His temptation after His baptism in the river Jordan, saying: “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” (Saint Matthew 4:10)

Reminding you of these truths of the Gospel, we call you today, on this day of the Resurrection, to be in truth and in essence, communicants of a new and eternal Life, of the new and eternal Spring, Christ the Lord. “Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave,” exclaims St. John Chrysostom. May no one fear death any longer for from it the Savior has freed us; He Who with His death on the Cross has extinguished death and made free all those over whom it has reigned. Today we celebrate the Resurrected Christ. We celebrate the death of death, we celebrate the destruction of Hades, we celebrate the beginning of new life, we celebrate Him Who is the Cause of all of that, the only blessed and most glorified One unto the ages of ages.

Our entire faith, hope and love is established upon the truth of the Resurrection of Christ the Savior, who with the Resurrection from the dead laid not only the cornerstone of His Church but also the faith of all of us who are baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We believe and confess Him “who rose again on the third day according to the Scripture”. Without the Resurrected Christ the Lord not only would our faith be empty but it would burst as the bubble made of soap. The Holy Apostle Paul who experienced the True and Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ in a special way concludes: “And if Christ is not risen, your [our] faith is in vain”. (I Corinthians 15:17) That is the empirical faith of the Apostle to the nations and the Church of Christ. May God grant it that we also, having experienced the Resurrected Christ, boldly and without fear sing: Christ is risen!

Unlike the Apostle Paul, the other Holy Apostles, who experienced the horror of Great and Holy Friday, as well as the Holy Myrrhbearing Women, experienced Christ’s Resurrection in a different manner. The news that Christ had risen and appeared to Cephas – that is, to the Apostle Peter – and “some of the women”, brought fear and trembling and some even began to doubt. Instead of joy and faith they were seized by fear and doubt. In doubting the news that the Teacher had risen the Apostle Thomas went the furthest when, with not much thought, he said: “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (Saint John 20:25) It is nothing strange and unusual if we bear in mind the spiritual battles and sufferings that the Apostles underwent. The fearful judgment of Great and Holy Friday, the judgment of the God-Man Christ, had left behind even more dreadful consequences for the Holy Apostles and those who followed Him and those who hoped that He would free them of the Roman oppression.

Their hope and faith dispersed while watching His terrible judgment, while watching how man, merciless and harsh, judges and to the cross crucifies their Teacher and Savior of the world, the Lover of mankind. The fear from within and the fear from without, the fear from the Sanhedrin, from Pontius Pilate, from the Jews, fear from all around! The fear had seized the disciples and apostles and they dispersed on all sides as sheep without a shepherd. Knowing well in their hearts, their fear and their thoughts, the Lord comes in their midst informing them that He is risen and tells them: “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Saint John 16:33) and “do not doubt, but rather have faith!

Today He comes to us who are afraid and frightened, dear brothers and sisters, to us frightened of the global world order and disorder, of great and small inquisitors, and of new Pilates, who once again judge and determine truth and justice and once more threaten God’s inheritance on earth with Golgotha. To us today He communicates this message: Do not be afraid! I have overcome the world! Recognizing in Him the Victor of every sin and every death and injustice with our faith, let us have courage and let us not fear those who, not knowing what they are doing, still ask: what is Truth? But we, having experienced the Resurrected Lord as Truth above all truths, having gathered around Him today on the spiritual Zion, let us glorify and praise Him for “all God-enlightened lights from the West and from the North of the sea, and from the East His children, glorifying Him through centuries”.

“Today is the day of the Resurrection, let us be illumined by the celebration! says the Church hymnographer adding: “Let us embrace each other and let us say brothers to even those who hate us and let us forgive all by the Resurrection!” May the hymn and glorification of Christ who glorified us flow from our voices and our hearts. With the all-victorious and all-joyous greetings Christ is risen! we greet you all one more time, dear children of St. Sava in our homeland and those throughout the world in the diaspora. The Resurrection is a Feast Day of pan-Orthodox unity and all-Christian fellowship. In the name of Christ Resurrected we call you all to the oneness and unity in His Church. He who is not in communion with the Church, which He has bought with His blood, is not with Him – with Christ the Lord. Without Christ there is no Church, and the Church is never without Christ. That is why without the Church there is no salvation. Outside the Church there is only the lonely “autonomous” man without a home, with his disobedience to God and His Church, with his egoism and opposition to the Holy Spirit like Adam expelled from Paradise. Such people the Lord Himself calls the doors of hell which will not prevail against the Church.

We especially greet our suffering brothers and sisters in Kosovo and Metohija who, despite being discriminated and in the chains of captivity, celebrate with us today the victory of Good over evil, Life over death, Christ Resurrected over the demonic powers of darkness.
With the same love in the Resurrected Christ the Lord and with warm prayers we greet today all our brothers and sisters in Dalmatia and Lika, Kordun, Banija, Slavonija and Baranja.
With Christ is risen! we also greet all of our brothers and sisters in Republika Srpska, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Slovenia and the former Republic of Yugoslavia – Macedonia, most especially the latter ones who at the forefront with their unjustly imprisoned Archbishop suffer for the unity of the Church and for the purity of the Orthodox Faith.
We pray especially today to the Conqueror of sin, death and human injustice for our brothers and sisters in Christ the Lord in the Middle East, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ukraine, with wishes and prayers that the light of Christ’s Resurrection dispel the darkness of sin which hovers over Ukraine, that it may enlighten the minds and souls of the sowers of hatred towards Holy Orthodoxy and the Russian Orthodox people.

May the Resurrected Christ our Lord shatter the chains of injustice, unlawfulness and hypocrisy with which the sons of illegality have bound the Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skoplje Kyrr Jovan who through us greets the entire Orthodox and justice-loving world.
Praying to the Resurrected Christ our Lord that the love of God always and incessantly fill your entire being, we once again greet you wholeheartedly with the salutation more important than any other salutation:

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

Given at the Serbian Patriarchate in Belgrade at Pascha 2014.

Your prayerful intercessors before the Risen Lord:

Archbishop of Pec,
Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and
Serbian Patriarch IRINEJ

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