SAN FRANCISCO: April 10, 2010
Paschal Epistle of Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America
CHRIST IS RISEN! VERILY HE IS RISEN!
Christ our God, who triumphed over death, has shown each of us Christians the only path into the Kingdom of Heaven: the path of meek acceptance, of long-suffering patience and of total submission to the Will of God. It is difficult for us, sinners, to remain true to this path of complete, unwavering trust in our Heavenly Father. It is our nature to doubt, to complain, at times even to rebel against the perfectly obvious Providential Divine care whose sole end is our salvation. None of us voluntarily embraces without struggle the limitations that are imposed on the material side of our life.
But then, each year, our Lord bestows upon the whole world this indescribable Paschal joy, this unique specific grace of the Paschal night. Instantly, all our daily cares evaporate completely. For a full forty days, as we greet each other with the familiar Paschal salutation, we shall once again be mindful of the most important of all considerations: our salvation, and the path to paradise, which is open to every Christian who repents of sins: to all those who love Christ and keep His commandments, namely to love God above all, and to love those nearest us as much as we love ourselves.
It is difficult to attain that meekness and humility that those who followed Christ exhibited – His apostles, the martyrs of the first centuries, or the new martyrs and confessors of these latter times. But we shall at least make a real effort to yearn for the capacity to exhibit greater patience, more love, more compassion. We shall strive to be more attentive, to instill in ourselves at the very least the mere idea of yearning for God, of yearning to follow in Christ's footsteps – of this one key commitment of our souls.
This year, Orthodox Christians and Christians of other denominations celebrate this greatest of all the holy days on the same Sunday. And again, as every year, we see all the efforts of the wicked come to naught; all that lives and breathes rejoices, and the heavenly, glorious light of Holy Pascha pours forth over all the world! The forces of darkness are powerless against Christ's flock! And our own souls, cleansed once more in the Holy Sacrament of Penance, having partaken of the Communion of Christ's Holy Mysteries, are refreshed and strengthened, that we might carry on, with God's help, serving the glory of God each in our own way, patiently awaiting the final release of all living souls from the fetters of sin and deception, which is to come on Judgement Day. Let us be mindful that for the two thousand years of the history of the Holy Church, Christ's faithful have endured unrelenting persecutions, hardships and all kinds of sorrowsЕ Yet every year, in spite of it all, God sends us this consolation, this renewal of our strength that takes place over forty wondrous days of Pascha, all the way to Ascension Day – as well as the consolation of weekly Sunday services, which we must not neglect, precisely because in reminding us of the Resurrection of our Lord, they allow us to find the means to endure all that we Christians are meant to endure in our age, in our fallen secular society, that we may be found worthy of salvation. And that is why we sing: "Let us embrace each other with joy!" Pascha is here: "freedom from sorrow, for this day is Christ come forth, shining, from the tomb as from a royal chamber... and may we be receive the light of His triumph and embrace each other... by the grace of the Resurrection forgiving all the wrongs of those who hate us and proclaiming: CHRIST IS RISEN!
† Archbishop KYRILL
Pascha 2010 A.D.