PASCHAL MESSAGE 2015 – GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AUSTRALIA
By the grace of God Archbishop of Australia to all the Reverend Clergy and devout faithful of our holy Archdiocese.
Brother Concelebrants and beloved children in the Lord,
Christ is Risen!
The period of mourning and cleansing in Great Lent has culminated, as every year, with Holy Week and the sacred Passion of Jesus Christ.
Following this puriﬁcation, then, we have prepared ourselves to listen, and to understand correctly, the exhortation of the Church towards a reclassification of the values in our lives:
“Come let us drink a new drink, not one from a barren rock, worked by a miracle”!
This, in summary, is the recommendation of the Church for renewal:
To greet and accept life, not as we know it in its biological dimensions, but rather as Christ has transformed it through the trial of the tomb and death.
Of course, the tomb and life, death and resurrection, are concepts that are opposite and contradictory. And it is only natural for one to think in this manner, when using the criteria of the world and the things of this world, rather than the Omnipotence, Freedom and Love of God, which predate the existence of the world and man himself.
The world, as a creation of God, is the object of absolute Love, because it was the product of absolute freedom. Therefore, who can place limits and barriers on Love which is absolute, which is free, and which is indeed the Love of God? What is our experience and our logic compared to the abyss of the Love of God?
This Love became incarnate so that we could touch it.
This Love was crucified so that we might commune with it as a “ransom for many.”
In light of this unprecedented cosmogony of Love, no matter how much darkness may still accompany our lives, the Church emphasises the most harmonious hymn:
“Now all things are filled with light; heaven and earth and the subterranean regions. Let all creation therefore celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, by means of which it is established”
To Him be glory and power unto the ages.
With fervent prayers in the Risen Christ
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia
[translation from the original Greek DK]
PASCHAL MESSAGE 2015
Metropolitan Paul Saliba
Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Metropolis of Australia, New Zealand and Philippines
There is nothing after Christ and nothing other than Christ. If you are not an extension of Him or an expression of Him, then you are nothing. At Pascha, I become Him or I am nothing. If I have love Him, then I grow through Him and I grow in Him. I do not want anything in His place because He is everything. All the saints are in Him and unto Him, and if you look at their faces, do not look for them. Search for the face of Jesus traced upon them. How should I conduct myself at Pascha? My only affair with my soul is to bring it to the Lord. With Him it comes into existence. The Father is the beginning and the end and in Him the Christ of history pours forth. I am nothing if I do not become a person of Pascha, one who looks to the Father, the end point.
As we celebrate Holy Pascha, we also each ask: “Who shall I be at Pascha?” This feast defines who we are, not just as a climax or triumph of the liturgical year, but as the very core of our life and, indeed, not just the core, but the whole of our life. Our task as Christians is to become an “extension” or “expression” of Christ, to become so like Him in communion with Him that the face of Jesus is also traced upon us.
We become ourselves at Pascha. We gain our true selves in the Resurrection of Jesus, that death-conquering act which shook the universe and spelled the end of the power of hell and the devil, freeing us from their domination which distorts us as persons. As the Holy Scripture tells us, “Since, therefore, the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage”( Heb. 2: 14-15).
Every deed of Christ is a reason to glorify His church. But the greatest of all glory, is in the Cross and Resurrection. Knowing this, St. Paul wrote: “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord”.
Many have been crucified throughout the history of mankind but by none of these are the devils scared. All the others died for their own sins, but Christ died for the sins of others. I confess the Cross because I know of the Resurrection; “For, after being crucified, He has remains as He was.
The Cross, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ are of great importance in the history of our Salvation. Without them, the Incarnation of the Son of God has no meaning. We know that the Orthodox Church, in her Liturgical and Spiritual life, never separated the Cross of Christ from the mystery of His Resurrection. She sees the Cross in the Light of the Resurrection and the Resurrection as the Victory of the Cross. This is why the Cross is called “Life Giving” and the Resurrection is the source of joy in the entire life of the Church.
The Resurrection of Jesus confirms His Divinity and His Victory over Death, which entered the world as consequence of sin. Without the Resurrection, the horizon of our existence is confined to the dimension of Earth, the identity of our person vanishes, and faith and hope are useless. The Resurrection of Christ is the full revelation of the glory that was hidden in the Cross. In our Christian life, the Resurrection of the Lord should not be only a commemoration of a historical event. Because the Cross did not produce a joy that lasted only a day. The joy of the Resurrection permeates all the days of our lives, and through it, our lives are renewed, liberating us from sin and death. “If anyone is in Christ, He is a new Creation; the Old has passed away, the new has come” (II Cor. 5: 15).
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15: 3-4).
Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. Several things should be noticed:
A- “Christ died”: that is a fact of history, and in itself it may not mean anything more than the death of a martyr. But “For our sins” it is a definite doctrinal statement which explains the reason for that death.
B- He gave Himself a ransom for all”: He took the sinner’s judgment. He died that we might never die, and this was “According to the Scriptures”.
“He was buried”. This suggests the reality of His death. It was not His “seeming death”; He was actually dead, and His precious Body was laid in Joseph’s Tomb. But, “Death could not keep its prey; He tore the bars away”. And so we come to the last point of this declaration.
“He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”: The Resurrection was the Father’s Expression of satisfaction in the work the Son accomplished on the Cross when He gave Himself a ransom for our sins. The sin question settled, God raise Him from the dead and set Him at His own Right Hand, exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour.
The physical Resurrection of our Lord Jesus is fundamental. There is no room for human theories here. His Body- which was buried in the Tomb- is resurrected on the third day.
It was not simply the survival of the Spirit after the death of the Body. Although that might prove immortal, it would not be Resurrection. What the Scripture clearly declares is that the Body that hung on the Cross is the Body that raised from the dead. It still bore the print of the nails (John 20:27)
It is useless to claim that He is a Great Teacher and Deny His Bodily Resurrection. He predicted that He would be rejected and would die and rise on the third day. The Disciples could not understand it then. But the empty Tomb, His appearances and His Resurrected Body, mad it all clear to them. Then they remembered His words. And after His Ascension to Heaven in that same Body and the Descent of the Holy Spirit, they went everywhere declaring His Resurrection from the dead.
Believe what? Confess what? That He who died for our sins has been raised again for our Justification and now sits enthroned at God’s Right Hand. This is the basis of all Gospel Testimony and the only sure Foundation upon which Salvation Rests.
He has said: “Because I live, you shall live also”. We rest upon His word and rejoice in hope of the Glory of the Resurrected Christ.
The Lord has spoken to many of you. He is inviting you every day of your life to celebrate Pasha with Him. He is waiting for you with an open heart. Do not leave this place tonight, leaving Him and His Church behind you until next year.
Let the Resurrected… use you as a vessel for His Divine Purposes. Let the One who is risen, live in your hearts. Let yourself be able to sing every day, every moment of your life: “Christ is Rise…”
Antiochian Orthodox Primate of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines
Of Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Most Reverend archpastors and brethren, most honored fathers and concelebrants, monastics, beloved brethren and sisters in Christ, parishioners and worshippers of our churches scattered throughout the whole world,
Christ is risen!
Truly, these age-old holy words, which we exchange with one another at the time of the Pascha of the Lord, resonate with great joy in the hearts of Orthodox believers. Those radiant, astonishing sensations which the Christian soul experiences on the night of Pascha are like a reflection of heavenly joy sent to us by the Lord. These joyous feelings inspire us during the blessed hours when we hear the greetings of the clergy, the chanting of the church choirs, and the beautiful paschal pealing of the bells summoning us to share in the common “feast of feasts.” We see in the wonderfully decorated church the kindly and reverent faces of those gathered to pray, and with them we receive the communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ.
Concerning the joy of Pascha, the ever-memorable Metropolitan Anastassy (Gribanovsky), who died fifty years ago (+22 May 1965), wrote remarkably: “Joy! Our soul always thirsts for it! All of us would fain delight in it! But it is not given to us gratis. Each moment of happiness must be purchased in this world. Now the radiant paschal joy comes to us independently of our efforts, as a heav enly blessing. Like a refreshing dew it falls from heaven to the earth, if wafts upon us like the sweetly scented wind of springtime. We are all upborne in spirit upon its gentle breezes, and are lightly and joyously carried on its bosom, by its sweet breath.”
With gladness of heart we experience the boldness of faith; for the Lord has united us all in His glorious victory over sin and the powers of hades, the victory He won by His Resurrection.
The Resurrection of Christ is an undoubted, historical fact confirmed precisely, reliably and fully by the Gospels, those unique first century documents. More than twenty years after the Resurrection, the Apostle Paul bore witness of the risen Christ: “After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep” (l Cor. 15: 6). This means that the majority of those witnesses, who with their own eyes beheld Christ, Who had risen on the third day, were still alive at that time, and were able to confirm the reality of that miracle to anyone who doubted it. Thanks to their life, struggles and preaching Christianity spread throughout the whole world.
During Bright Week, after the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the Church daily invites us to join together in procession. The hymn, “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ” is chanted repeatedly in the churches on those days. It summons us to enter into the world and proclaim the truth of this greatest of miracles, no so much, of course, in word, as by good example, deeds and life, just as did those who beheld Christ with their own eyes.
From the depths of my heart I greet you, the archpastors, clergy, monastics, parish sisterhoods, all who labor in our churches, our dear parishioners, worshippers and fellow countrymen, with the great feast of the splendid Resurrection of Christ. I give voice to my own heartfelt desire that the risen Lord, Who loves mankind, will, in the midst of our sorrows and temptations, renew us all with the joy of His life-bearing Resurrection, support faith and piety within us, and illumine us with trust in the coming, eternal celebration “on the never-waning day of His kingdom.” Amen.
With love in the risen Christ,
+Hilarion Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
The Pascha of the Lord, 2015
ARCHPASTORAL PASCHAL MESSAGE
By the Grace of God, Bishop of the Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand of the Serbian Orthodox Church
Beloved monastics, clergy, all sons and daughters, faithful spiritual children of our Holy Church in Australia and New Zealand, from a paternal heart overflowing with Paschal joy, We greet all of you on this great and most radiant Feast of Feasts greeting all with the inspired words of the Venerable John of Damascus:
“Let us purify our senses and we shall see Christ Shining in the unapproachable light of His resurrection. We shall clearly hear him say rejoice, as we sing the song of victory“
(Paschal Canon—Song 1)
CHRIST IS RISEN!
Most beloved, in order to encounter the Risen Christ, who shines in the unapproachable light of His resurrection, in order to choose God that we may live according to the Gospel, all this does not mean the renunciation of happiness and satisfaction in this life, as we can clearly hear Him say: Rejoice! How will we be able to rejoice if we do not experience the transfiguration of happiness and satisfaction? Joy can be considered the ability to live here and now in this happiness that is yet to come, to feel and taste it. Unlike mere satisfaction, joy is essential happiness and everlasting satisfaction that does not depend upon the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
In this world there are many objective difficulties and adversities that we cannot influence, however, there are those which are subjective, that we create, either of our own volition or inadvertently which thereby depend on us. Many dilemmas, the solution and responsibility of which we relegate to others or expect others to solve, are most often are within our own might and domain. If we did everything in our power, no matter how impoverished, it is certain that our life would be more bearable, meaningful and certainly more beautiful. Because beauty and the meaning of life do not depend on transient prosperity. Anyone can be joyful in small things if they purify their senses by placing their mind in their heart. According to newly-illumined saint, the Venerable Elder Paisius of Mount Athos: “A clean, good thought has greater might than any feat.”
Therefore, beloved Spiritual Children, in order for us to be genuinely joyful and satisfied in the same, we do not need much. The entire world, since God created it out of nothingness, is an inexhaustible source of beauty offered to us. If we so desire and if we behold with impartial eyes, we can find beauty in everything. For the Creator, when He created the world, beheld everything that He created and sealed it with beauty saying that everything was very good (Gen.1:31). If anything disrupts this beauty, we do this on our own accord. As much as the life we live seems difficult, it truly has its sense according to Divine Providence. The Lord did not bestow life to anyone for the simple sake of life. Our life has been given an exalted sense and we Orthodox Christians see this sense primarily in the revelation of the Word of God and the greatest sense we see is in the person of the Risen Lord. For Christ, who “conforming to the body of our lowliness”, is the image of our expectations. In Him is the fullness of both Divine and human nature for He, who did not create death, voluntarily gave Himself in exchange for death, once and for always to break the infernal chains of death that kept us in bondage so that He might be Himself “the first in all things, “according to the sublime words of the Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great, with which we fervently prayed during the past Great Lent.
Our whole life will conclude in the victory of life by resurrection. Thus, when the eye of the heart perceives the meaning of life, only through this unique prism we shall see clearly, without detraction, the very meaning of life. Only then will life have abundant personal meaning and none of the problems of this world will be able to disturb this sense. This most beautiful, true beauty of life, is life in abundance. For the beauty of all that is passing is precisely the threshold that opens unto the horizons of everlasting beauty.
As our Holy Serbian and All Orthodox Bishop Nicholai stated, “Christ steps lightly”; to which he adds “God does not need quick, but lasting victories.” The onus on us is, as always, to be on God’s side; and God will, as stated Patriarch Pavle of blessed repose, “help, if he has whom to help.” Struggling thus against evil in ourselves and the world, and loving justice and truth, which have their source and end in the God of Love, we will be able to promptly stop and break free of dishonourable, evil rashness. Therefore the Lord said to us in anticipation of His voluntary and for us, salvific suffering: “Be careful, see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Matt. 24:6).
In joyful anticipation of the Coming of the Age, in which the mystical link that will unite beauty with the final silent threshold will be realised, through which all of us will be invited to cross, there where the Gate of Beauty will be opened unto the ages, with all our heart, Our joy, let us exclaim:
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY, HE IS RISEN!
Given in Sydney, at Pascha in the Year 2015
Your fervent intercessor before the Risen Christ,
Bishop of the Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand