PATRIARCHAL ENCYCLICAL FOR HOLY PASCHA 2013
Prot. No. 388
By God’s mercy
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the plenitude of the Church
Grace, peace and mercy from Christ risen in glory
Beloved concelebrants and devout, god-loving children of the Church,
Christ is Risen!
The proclamation of the Resurrection by the myrrh-bearing women to the disciples of Christ was considered delirious. Yet, the word, formerly conceived as delirious, was confirmed as Truth. The risen Lord appeared to His disciples on several occasions.
In our time, the proclamation of the Resurrection is again considered delirious by rationalists. Nonetheless, we faithful not only believe in but also experience the Resurrection as a profoundly truthful fact. Indeed, if necessary, we seal our testimony with self-sacrifice because in the risen Christ we transcend death and are liberated from its fear. Our hearts are filled with joy when we repeat: The Lord has risen. Our saints, who have died according to the world, continue to live among us, responding to our petitions. The world that follows death is truer than the world that precedes death. Christ has risen and dwells among us. He has promised to be with us to the end of the world. And so He is – as our friend, brother, healer, who bestows all good things.
Blessed is our God, who has risen from the dead, granting eternal life to all people. O death, where is your sting? Christ has risen, revealing and ridiculing the one who formerly boasted without end to be a mockery. (See the Canon of St. John Damascene, 4th tone, 9th ode) Everything is filled with light and our hearts are replete with limitless joy.
And more than joy, they are filled with strength. For whoever believes in the Resurrection is unafraid of death; and whoever is unafraid of death is spiritually unyielding and unbending inasmuch as what may be the most terrible threat for the majority and for the disbelievers is of little significance to the Christian; for it is the entrance to life itself. The faithful Christian lives the Resurrection even prior to his or her natural death.
The consequence of experiencing the Resurrection is the transformation of the world. It inspires the soul. And an inspired soul also attracts other souls to its ways, when these souls are moved by the genuine joyous experience of immortality. Christ’s Resurrection and our own resurrection are not simply an abstract truth. They are a dogma of faith. They are a tangible reality. They are a force that overcomes the world despite the extremely harsh persecutions waged against it. “This is the victory, which has conquered the world, namely our faith” (1 John 5.4) in His Resurrection. Through the Resurrection, humanity is called to divinity through grace. Through the victory of the light of Resurrection over the impure passions, divine eros and a strange love, which surpasses human boundaries, are established in our souls.
Therefore, Christ is Risen! Our hearts are filled with the light and joy of the Resurrection. We approach the Risen Lord with authenticity and simplicity. For, as the royal Prophet David says, our God, who supervises our hearts from above, “will not despise a broken and contrite heart.” (Psalm 50.19)
The Resurrection is our strength, hope, joy, and delight. Through the Resurrection, we transcend pain and sorrow for all the evils of this natural, worldly life. The Resurrection is God’s response to the helplessness of wounded humanity before the suffering of worldly humanity.
We do not surrender to the difficulties and challenges of the modern world. The gathering of the Lord’s fearful disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem encourages us. We are not afraid because we love everyone, even as He loved us and gave His life for our sake. Mysteriously and invisibly, the Lord accompanies us. We only need to have – and we do have – love. For though love, we understand the power of the Mystery; we know the Mystery itself.
If others hesitate, “garnering their actions in thick sheaves” (Vespers of the Prodigal Son), yet we boast. And if we do not “winnow the chaff of our [sinful and passionate] actions with the wind of His loving-kindness or on the threshing floor of repentance,” the Risen Lord is Love and disperses all forms of darkness and fear that surrounds us, entering our hearts and our world, even when the doors are closed. He “remains with us” permanently through the cross of love. His calling is peace, and He grants us His peace. The powerful of this world pledge and promise peace, but can never produce or realize it. Whereas the power of divine Love, Peace and Wisdom remains beyond all human panic. It is not found on the margins of reality or the surface of human convictions. Instead, it is the heart of humanity, the center of life, the lord of life and death. It is Truth.
The incontestable transcendence of Power invisibly controls the reigns and directs all things, especially at a time when “the minds of so many lie in darkness.”
At this time of widespread dissolution throughout the world, the hope of all throughout the universe, the Wisdom of God, is the presence of the heavenly solution and harmony. At a time of collapse and anticipated death, we have the reality of Resurrection and the strength of our conviction in Christ.
The peace that derives from Him who trampled down death by death through his self-emptying, together with the joy of love, flow and heal our contemporary humanity that sighs and suffers as well as all of creation that groans and laments with us, who “await adoption and redemption” as well as “the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8.20-23)
Truly the Lord is Risen, beloved fathers, brothers and sisters!
Holy Pascha 2013
† Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant before God
PATRIARCHAL PASCAL MESSAGE
Protocol No: 68/2013
BY THE GRACE OF GOD POPE AND PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA
AND ALL AFRICA TO THE INTEGRITY
OF OUR APOSTOLIC AND PATRIARCHAL THRONE
GRACE AND MERCY AND PEACE FROM
OUR RISEN LORD AND GOD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST
My dear brothers and sisters,
Christ is risen!
The Son of God became Incarnate so that man could be restored to his former completeness. The Son of God was crucified so that man could form a redeeming relationship of communion with God. The Son of God abolished death so that man could acquire the prospect of salvation; a prospect founded on the incorruptible, unconditional and limitless love of God for mankind.
Salvation, through the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, means that all obstacles which darken the heart of mankind are abolished. Salvation means that the disease which conceals God from man is cured. Salvation means daily recognition of mankind through his existential alignment with the life of Christ Himself.
The predominant open existence for God is children. Children have a very distinctive capacity to admire, to be delighted, and to experience joy and unhappiness. Children have a very distinctive ability to trust, to open themselves to love, to believe with their entire being. They have the capacity to see, to hear, to feel all that adults have ceased to see, to hear, to feel. That is why Christ told us: “Become like children” (Matthew 18: 3).
However, today, children’s right to experience the existence of God is threatened. Their right to escape from harsh daily reality is threatened. Their right to transcend the cynical mistrust of adults is threatened. Their right to what the world of adults often forgets, living in Christ, is threatened.
Children fall victim to civil strife and religious fanaticism. Children are initiated from their early age for the service of self interest. Children become object of labor exploitation. Children come to know family violence. Children are undernourished and have no health care. Children live with the prospect of an environmental holocaust due to the abuse of God’s creation.
My dear brothers and sisters,
Christ said: “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God” (Mark 10:13-14). This command needs to be transformed into a large embrace of the children who, without being to blame, are scarred by the choices of adults. Through this command, a readjustment of childhood identity is needed, as it has been impaired by the instability of our times. It is absolutely necessary that this command means the return to the original beauty of childhood for the implementation of the Lord’s words: “whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child, shall not enter it” (Mark 10:15-16).
It is this command of the Gospel that the Orthodox Church of Africa puts into practice, working hard to build a world of respect and solidarity for the children. Through its witness and its activities, the Orthodox Church of Africa takes on, transforms and renews traumatized children’s souls. It articulates its own proposal for life, its own hierarchy of life, at the head of which is the child as the dynamic bearer of promising prospects for a world which is the truth in love.
† THEODOROS II
Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa
In the Great City of Alexandria
Holy Pascha 2013
PATRIACH JOHN X’S PASCHAL MESSAGE 2013
Paschal Letter 2013
With the Mercy of God
Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
To all our beloved in the Lord
the children of the Antiochian See, clergy and laypersons,
On the great day of Resurrection, on which Christ rose and raised us with Him, it pleases me to remember with you the meanings of Resurrection and to explain some of its aspects.
The resurrection of the Lord is the resurrection of each one of us. In the resurrection the power of the devil, our enemy, was brought to naught. Although death terrifies human beings, yet the Lord Jesus has defeated it with his life-giving resurrection. He descended in His death to the abode of death, that is, to Hades, and exploded it from within, abolishing its effects. It is true that death is still there, however it has become a mere passage to true life, a complete liberation from temporal things and a way to eternity. Resurrection gave us grace instead of sin, immortality instead of corruption, life instead of death. The rule of the evil one is gone and the kingdom of God has appeared. Darkness gives way to light.
The resurrection is a new creation, a new man, a new people. It is a proof of the power of life and the energy of renewal. It is the supremacy of light and the everlasting rule of truth “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5: 17). The resurrection is the victory of God over the powers of sin and death which distort creation and humankind and seek to destroy them. It is the victory which inspired the Apostle Paul to proclaim: “Oh Death, where is your victory? Oh Death, where is your sting” (1 Cor 15: 55).
In His resurrection Christ has opened to man the way of true life, the life of happiness, light, love and renewal. In His resurrection Christ renewed our old nature, and made it in the beauty of His image, enabling us to become a people of resurrection in word and deed. If we believe and truly desire it then the resurrection of Christ becomes our own personal Pascha. “Christ is buried in us as in a tomb. He unites Himself with us and raises us again in Himself.” (Saint Simeon the New Theologian) When we become pure vessels for the Holy Spirit, our celebration of Pascha becomes a continuous celebration and “happens in us mysteriously at all times”.
True resurrection is never separated from the Cross. The Cross is the way that leads to it. The resurrection of the Lord cannot be lived without remembering His cross and carrying it. In order for us to participate personally in the resurrection of the Lord we must not forget the Cross which preceded it. Without the cross we cannot have a share in the glory of the risen Christ. If we are not aware of the Cross in our lives, from what will we be risen then? If we remain where we are now, where then are the signs of our resurrection? If the darkness of sin continues to prevail in us, how can the light of resurrection dwell in us? We cannot celebrate the resurrection of Christ if the light of the Savior does not fully dispel from our souls the darkness of our sins. Easter visits us now while our concerns increase, our fears grow greater, destruction expands, evil intensifies and killing is everywhere and at all times. How can we celebrate the resurrection while our country is doomed, the number of hungry and displaced people is increasing? How can we live the resurrection when the cross is always present?
This is the mystery of Christ, “Through the cross joy came to the whole world”. There, where the Cross is, true resurrection is to found too. Otherwise Pascha would only be mere poetry and chanting. The world does not like the cross. It seeks to abolish it, while it is surrounded by crosses on all sides. True believers would never have these crosses out of sight; they face them with the spirit of resurrection and take from them the new life and put on them the clothes of the light of life. The energy of the resurrection which is in Christ transforms the cross into a tool of joy, a way of life, a witness of love and a sign of communion and solidarity.
How can we live the resurrection? How can we embody it in our lives? How can we translate it from books to the reality of our life?
We celebrate the resurrection and live it when we do not allow evil to enter us and dwell within us under any circumstances whatsoever. We live the resurrection when we do not answer evil with evil. We live it when we continuously purify ourselves from all traces of hatred and rancour. We live it when we stick with constructive truth which does not separate but gathers, which does not cause grief but happiness, and which does not destroy but builds. Let us behold then the truth to which we were called, (if we know it), the truth which liberates us from all sorts of chains of evil. Let us behold the truth which is in the others and respect it, so we might truly communicate with our fellow citizens and fulfill each other, in order to build both our homeland and humanity.
What we are saying about Cross and resurrection takes on today a deeper realistic meaning as some of our brethren have suffered the troubles connected to the painful events we are witnessing. Our brothers, that is a number of Metropolitans, Priests and lay persons are still being held by their kidnappers. A number of priests and lay persons have been killed here and there, and thousands of believers have been displaced from their homes. We are carrying the cross of what all of them have suffered and are still suffering. We share the grief and the tragedy of the Archdiocese of Aleppo, as well as every parish. However, we should use this grief to make a way to a greater steadfastness and an occasion to proclaim our faith in the Resurrection. We have made until today every effort with international and local authorities, asking them to help in the release of the kidnapped. This is the least of what we could do. We need to work for peace to prevail in our regions and we call for an immediate cessation of violence in actions between fellow citizens. We will not surrender to these circumstances as the Lord did not succumb on the way to Golgotha. We shall continue in our way and we shall always claim the rights of man to a decent and peaceful life, mindful that the resurrection is certainly going to happen. For these reason I call upon you for more unity, more prayer, more steadfastness in your faith, more love for your homeland and more openness toward your fellow citizens. Only then can we be more powerful and more efficient in asking for the removal of oppression, a safe return of the kidnapped and the removal of every tear from the faces of those who are sad.
We become children of the Resurrection when we become bridges of communication and encounter between those who are separated, and between those who are in conflict. Let us be bridges exactly like the Lord who did not ask anything for Himself, but gave the world everything, to such an extent that He offered Himself for the salvation of the world. Let us serve as ways of rapprochement for all. Through love, sacrifice and in deeds and truth we shall build our countries.
We become children of Resurrection when we live our faith in genuineness, depth and meaningfulness. External expressions are bound to change with cultures and ways of living, but the genuine Christian content preserves the trust which has been handed down to the saints under many different circumstances, l cases and cultures. Let us imitate the courage of Christ who did not fear anything, even death. Instead He faced the cross with love and brought us to resurrection. Let us face the cross of this crucified East with overwhelming love for all those who are crucified on it, until we reach with them the resurrection we all expect. Let us live these painful days in simplicity, enjoying the bare necessities of life and experiencing the true wealth which is life with God. Let solidarity, cooperation and communion be for us a priority. Needy persons are numerous and the numbers of those affected by troubles are increasing. Let us all be one family and one household. Let us not forget the words of the Gospel, “and whoever… gives one of these little ones a cup of cold water to drink… he shall not lose his reward” (Matt 10:42).
At this stage I address our children in the diaspora wishing them blessed days and praying for their welfare and that they may receive the blessings of God, reminding them of their role and the necessity of expressing their love toward their peoples and countries and in their communion with them. You can extend to us a helpful hand in any way that would be suitable for you.
Last but not least, we do not forget that God is the Lord of history, so we may always hold to patience and hope which do not fade away. Let us remember the words of the prophets and how much they called, in times of distress, for repentance and faith, until God intervenes and removes the distress. In these troubled days we are witnessing, we are in sore need of faithful witnesses. Let us move out of our distress with more faith, more purity and greater loyalty. When we understand that we only need God and no one else, the effects of resurrection will appear in us and in all our humanity. When this happens all around us shall be transfigured.
Christ is risen!
Indeed, He is risen!
MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE PASCAL MESSAGE 2013
The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill, addressed the faithful with his traditional Pascal sermon:
Christ is Risen, dear brothers and sisters!
I would like to share the joy of the holy day of Easter with all of you. The Lord has indeed saved us all through his resurrection. And in order to comprehend the significance of this for us as mankind we could consider this example. Just imagine that someone innocent took the blame, responsibility and penalty for all the crimes ever committed by all the wrongdoers and rendered them all free by taking their penalty for them. Our Lord Jesus Christ did just the same, yet with one condition – he didn’t open the doors of the prison cells the sinners are contained in, but undid their locks. And now it is our free choice – to step out and be free or remain locked up. In one of the hymns, we praise our risen Savior saying that He smashed open the eternal fetters and chains and freed us of them. But in order for us to step out of that door and become free we need to make our way towards Him, because there is only one way that leads to the door beyond which the freedom lies.
Our circumstances in life, superstitions, all kinds of stereotypes and false values lead us off this path. We often get tempted with other ways to freedom. At times people spend their entire lives pursuing these ways only to find out in the end that they’re still locked up and instead of obtaining freedom have hit the wall. Some may still have the time and energy to resume their search for a way out, while others may give up the hope to escape their imprisonment.
If we turn to Christ, we open the door that He unlocked for us. We become free and empowered by His ways and commandments. We become free to live a full life. This doesn’t require any exhausting effort. It only takes to believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ has risen and saved us. It only takes to believe that the door is open. It only takes to believe that living by His will is the true freedom while any other way is the opposite.
And when we begin to realize this, a whole new life opens to us. We find it easier to be good to people, refrain from foul words or judgments and make our way through life without hurting other people or crippling them.
We discover that we are able to love, be faithful, and carry the truth into the world. That’s what life in Christ means, that’s what the true freedom is. Maintaining freedom isn’t easy. Each one of us knows how difficult it is for a state to protect its freedom and independence. It sometimes takes a lot of hard work. Protecting one’s freedom from numerous temptations and illusions that the dark powers are sending our way to drive us off the way to salvation isn’t easy just the same way.
The holy day of Easter is a celebration of victory and freedom. Let’s embrace this holy day with these feelings and make the decision, as much as we can, to start making our way towards our risen Saviour through the door that He gracefully opened for us by His holy deeds of mercy and truth – and we can do so by helping those who need our help, promoting peace, justice and love among all of us.
Christ is risen indeed! Amen!
SERBIAN PATRIARCHAL PASCHAL ENCYCLICAL 2013
2. May 2013
THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
TO HER SPIRITUAL CHILDREN
AT PASCHA, 2013
I R I N E J
BY THE GRACE OF GOD
ORTHODOX ARCHBISHOP OF PEC, METROPOLITAN OF BELGRADE-KARLOVCI AND SERBIAN PATRIARCH, WITH ALL THE HIERARCHS OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH – TO ALL CLERGY, MONASTICS, ADN 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!
“For you will not leave my soul in Sheol,
nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”
True, indeed, is this word of God’s prophet by which he announces the radiant feast of Christ Resurrection, this feast of great Christian joy and spiritual celebration. If there is a day among all days for celebration, that is today — the day we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ our God. Thanks to this holy day, all the days of mankind — from the beginning to the end of the world — receive their true meaning, and all that has happened in those days and is happening receives its proper meaning. If there is an event to which Christianity can be narrowed down, then that event truly is the Resurrection of Christ. If there is a feast to which all feasts can be narrowed down, then again, that is the Resurrection of Christ. That is why the Church calls the feast day of Christ’s Resurrection the Feast of Feasts; and in the Church we sing: This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! (Psalm 118:24).