DIOCESE OF SAN FRANCISCO AND WESTERN AMERICA: May 5, 2008
The Paschal Epistle of Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
"We celebrate the death of death,” sings the Holy Church. After the death of the Savior, the persecution of His flock began, at times flaring up, at times abating. Not one Orthodox nation eluded these persecutions: the host of holy martyrs, together with Christ, held victory over death itself through unutterable Grace and Divine Providence. And in our Russian land, as everyone knows, in the generations of our parents, grandparents and –great-grandparents, there were a multitude of martyrs who died for one thing: they died for this very Holy Pascha, which is the very meaning of our faith—they died for the right to celebrate it, for the conviction that it is exclusively in Orthodoxy that its spiritual image is expressed in its fullness, the calling and goal of the life of the Russian person, our common, nationwide obedience to Christ God and His commandments. The victory of our martyrs, who spilled their blood for Christ in the 20th century, is apparent: where these persecutions once took place, these very words of prayer now rise up, prayers that we preserved abroad. Through repentance and the Holy Mysteries, the much-suffering Russia is now being cleansed, the same Russia that not long ago was in apostasy, yet by the Will and Mercy of God, the staunchest of her faithful, during all the years of persecution, were able to preserve a remarkable abundance of our common, holy Orthodox legacy in the face of all danger.
Glory to our God! This most heartwarming miracle occurred in our time, and the Lord allowed us unworthy ones to witness this! The “death of death”: not only bodily death, but spiritual death, which, as the Lord said, is far worse. And so, brothers and sisters, our dear Metropolitan Laurus, now reposed in the Lord, is now invisibly sharing this first Pascha since the reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church with us in the Kingdom of God. The final day in the earthly life of Vladyka Laurus fell on the day of the appearance of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God, and his righteous death was on the morning of the Triumph of Orthodoxy… It is this holiday that ends the sorrowful cycle of the forced abdication of the Anointed of God, which threw the whole Orthodox world into a period of fragmentation and severe spiritual tribulation. And the 40th day of the death of Vladyka Laurus falls on Great Passion Thursday, when the Church recalls the establishment by the Lord Himself of the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist, reading His words with trembling: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee… And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:20-26).
Together with His Holiness Patriarch Alexy, Vladyka Laurus of blessed memory, having grasped the fullness of this commandment of Christ on the Unity of the Church, placed this great cornerstone of Orthodoxy, the Mystery of Unity, at the foundation. He performed the podvig and held victory over the superficial judgments of some weak-spirited factions. Vladyka Laurus, the Peacemaker, thereby fulfilled his monastic vow of obedience to Christ, which is obligatory not only for monastics but for all true Christians, and he earned the death of the righteous, which the Lord marked with such remarkable signs. Eternal memory to him! “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!” Thus promised the Lord, and it has been so. “Wondrous are Thy works, o Lord! In wisdom hast Thou made them!” Let us rejoice, brothers and sisters, together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters in the faith and spirit throughout the world, and in the Kingdom of Heaven! “We celebrate the death of death… the beginning of eternal life!” “This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad." Amen.