Paschal Epistle of Bishop John of Caracas and South America

Christ is risen!

Truly He is risen, not for His own, but for our sake! Just as Christ for His own sake had no need to take flesh, no need to suffer, no need to die, but rather did all this out of His ineffable love for mankind, for our salvation, so also it is for our sake that He has risen. Thus His glory, His victory, become our glory, our victory. For, as Christians, so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death (Rom. 6:3), and, if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be in the likeness of His resurrection (Rom. 6:5).

Pascha is the feast of feasts and festival of festivals and as such, along with the whole of Orthodox Christendom we eagerly await its coming, and, preparing ourselves with prayer, fasting and abstinence, we greet it with unbounded joy and celebrate accordingly.

This is all good and proper. Nevertheless, although the feast of Pascha is the apex of the yearly cycle of the church calendar, indeed its beginning and end, just as it comes, so it also passes. Would it not be better to celebrate the lasting Pascha which abides in the heart of the true Christian who truly lives in the risen Christ, and in whom there lives the risen Christ?

Having attained this Pascha, and living it, St Seraphim was able, year round, without any pretence, to greet everyone with the Paschal “Christ is risen”.

No matter how far beyond our experience and comprehension such an abiding Pascha may be, no matter how unattainable it may seem, it can only be a foretaste of the eternal Pascha of the unwaning day of Christ's kingdom, to which we are all called, for eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him (1 Cor. 2:9).

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Bishop of Caracas and South America.


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