NEW YORK: April 17, 2009
CHRIST IS RISEN!
Today, in churches full to overflowing with throngs of people, songs of praise and thanksgiving are being offered up to God. Celebrating and rejoicing, we welcome the Savior's triumphant Resurrection from the tomb with gladsome spiritual hymns. In the spirit of spiritual joy I hasten, through this epistle, to visit all of you and mystically to express to all the pious members of our Russian Church Abroad the paschal greeting.
"Truly He is risen!" I declare spiritually to you all the heartfelt Paschal greeting!
In the light of His Resurrection may the Lord grant His Church peace, strengthening in the Faith, and a growing hope for an increase of love!
The source of the extraordinary joy we now experience is the fact of the resurrection of Christ itself—that greatest of all miracles in the history of the world which has dispersed the darkness of man's sense of doom. I should mention that a sudden and great inspiration in the confession of faith in the resurrected Christ imbued His disciples and apostles, who were terrified and downcast by the crucifixion of the Savior. They, and following them the multitudes of martyrs as well, went forth to suffer and die for Christ Who had died and rose again. Despite terrible persecutions and afflictions, the first Christian Church grew and gained strength, for in the eyes of the apostles and their followers the light of the victory of Good and Life over evil and death was visible. This latter psychological circumstance persuasively and indisputably provides the foundation for faith in the resurrected Christ.
By His Resurrection, the Lord opened the way to personal salvation for each of us. Yet each person must still individually tread his life's path to reach, through Christ Who is "the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6), the resurrection and life everlasting. The path of Paschal joy in the Lord strengthens us in the bearing of the cross of life, which consists of the pain and weaknesses of us and those close to us, of the difficulties we encounter on our way, the many and various problems and disorders with which we are visited by God Who "in the depth of His wisdom and love for mankind arrangeth all things and granteth unto all that which is beneficial."
At the present time, many of us are in turmoil and are suffering because of the economic crisis that grips the entire world. "Crisis" is a Greek word signifying judgment. In the given instance, one may say that this judgment indicates that our common hunger for and active pursuit of enrichment and the acquisition of material goods cannot result in true happiness. In the trial that has overtaken us we must find it possible not only to ponder the "one thing needful," but also to set about actively seeking happiness in God and His image, which is reflected in those close to us, that is, those who are to be found next to us. And in this way the sign of the Cross of the Lord should make us vigilant, should give us strength and courage. If each of us will remember that the Savior's way of the Cross ended in the Resurrection, that the Lord will lead us to Himself, to eternal glory and happiness, it will be easier for us and those around us to bear our little cross of life.
Let the light of the Resurrection of Christ direct our steps toward the paths that lead to the kingdom of God, that "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, loving-kindness, faith, meekness and temperance" (Galatians 5:22-23) may abide in the world, and especially in our dioceses, monasteries, parishes, missionary communities, church schools, old age homes, in all our church institutions and the social organizations of our beloved Russian Church Abroad, that we may become the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the world." Amen.
With Paschal joy in the Resurrection of Christ,
Pascha of the Lord, 2009