NEW YORK: April 22, 2011
Paschal Epistle of Metropolitan HILARION of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
I greet you, fellow archpastors, and dear in Christ fathers, brothers, and sisters, with the luminous, universal, and eternal triumph of Holy Pascha. Along with you, I cry out with all my heart: Truly Christ is Risen!
How much bright joy these words contain! They destroy all sorrows, disappointments, hardships, and privations, while bestowing consolation and blessings.
Christ is Risen! If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, says the Apostle Paul; our hope in Christ would be to no purpose. But Christ is risen, thereby demonstrating that He is truly God, that the doctrine preached by Him is true, and that our faith is true. He promised His Apostles that He would suffer, die, and rise again on the third day – and His word was fulfilled. He arose in our human flesh, which means, according to His veritable promise, that we too will be resurrected at the time determined by Him. He is “the first-born from the dead,” as He is called in the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great that is served on Sundays during Great Lent. And we who believe in Him will also arise and be with Him.
None of our troubles or afflictions, neither sorrows nor the loss of loved ones, can overshadow the joy of the Resurrection of Christ. For our life is not here; here is but a temporary sojourn, a preparation for the real life, the life of eternal blessedness. There we will meet God, the saints, and all who were close to us. Celebrating “this chosen and holy day” of great joy in this earthly vale, let us recall the words of F. M. Dostoevsky who, while in exile in a labor camp, said: “I have not become despondent and low in spirit. Life is life everywhere: life is within us and not in externals. I am surrounded by people; to remain a man amongst men and to remain a Man forever, in whatever misfortune, not becoming despondent or falling into despair – this is what life is about, this is its goal.”
May God, the Lover of Mankind Who arose on the third day, help the people of New Zealand and Japan, who continue to experience the terrible consequences of the disasters that have befallen them! May the joy of Pascha fortify and renew the inner strength of all us sinners, who are trying, each according to his strength, to follow Christ and to bear one’s cross!
May the Lord bless the work of the upcoming Council of Bishops, called upon to chart the future path of the saving ministry of our Russian Church Abroad! During these holy days, let us send up prayers to the Most Blessed Virgin Theotokos, our Hodigitria, and to St. John, whose incorrupt relics rest in the Cathedral of the “Joy of All Who Sorrow” in San Francisco, that the Lord, Who is the Giver of Life, may pour out His grace-filled power on the Council of Bishops, that “all counsels be fulfilled,” by the grace and will of the Holy Spirit.
“My joy, Christ is risen!” This is how Saint Seraphim of Sarov would welcome all who came to him. So do I, a sinner, welcome each of you.
Christ has Truly Risen, fellow hierarchs, most honorable fathers, beloved in the Lord brothers and sisters!
With Paschal joy in the Risen Christ, and asking your prayers,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Church Outside of Russia.