Paschal Joy Is in Faithfulness
March-April, 1982

Orthodox America

   MEMORY ETERNAL! Archbishop Averky

The Fullness of Paschal Joy Is Only in Faithfulness to Christ
This year marks the sixth anniversary of he blessed repose of Archbishop Averky of Syracuse and holy Trinity Monastery, and we as Orthodox Christians should remember him in our prayers as one who truly loved the holy Orthodox Faith.
In our time, authentic and true Orthodoxy -the Body of Christ-is being attacked from all sides . Our faithfulness to the teachings of the Orthodox Church is our only defense against those dangers which the Church has met and defeated in the past and which once more besiege her: heresy, ecumenism, opportunism, renovationism, modernism an d secularism.
Archbishop Averky, of blessed memory, addresses himself to these issues in his writings so as to w a r n and protect us against the dangers of being weak-spirited or luke-warm concerning the faith in these difficult times when the holy Church is under attack lie saw very clearly that, for most, apostasy and betrayal of the teachings of Christ are less often conscious choices than they are sins of omission and carelessness. He not only addresses himself in a very practical way to the pitfalls which often ensnare the unsuspecting, the innocent believer, but also :shows us where the solid ground can be found upon which we can walk with confidence. The world's values, ideologies, priorities and criteria are in constant flux; they change and are replaced according to the fashion of the day; but we must remain constant to those eternal values and teachings which allow us to view the world in which we live objectively.
The writings of Archbishop Averky are those of a loving Father who guides gently but with steadfastness. He urges us to concentrate on what is needful: to grow firm in our beliefs and to speak out in defense of our faith despite what is taking place around us. Vladika's spiritual counsels are rooted in his many years of experience as a good and true shepherd; they reflect how deeply he had studied the scriptures and the holy Fathers, and manifest his exceptional qualities as a teacher.
Brethren, let us remember in our prayers this wise arch-pastor who labored so much to give living water to thirsty souls in a dry land.
Fr. Demetrios Serfes
 Your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.
(John 16:22)
Let us be divinely glad.. for Christ our eternal joy is risen.
(Canon of Pascha)
Our Orthodox Cristian faith is a joy which never ceases ,' but eternally lives in our hearts. It is the joy of the Risen Lord, the joy of the Resurrection, the joy of Pascha.
It is not without a special profound significance, as the great Father of the Church St. John Chrysostom, testifies, that in the night of Pascha, and then for the whole Paschal period, there is read in our churches the Divinely-inspired book of the Acts of the Apostles. This book, like none other, speaks to us in a lively and clear manner of the greatest truth of Christianity, the Resurrection of Christ, and contains primarily evidences of the Resurrection From it we learn that the Holy Apostles, in preaching the Gospel teaching, proclaimed first of all the good news of Christ crucified and risen from the dead, and it was precisely this teaching that had such a mighty effect on the hearers , capturing thousands of hearts in obedience to Christ.
And this is understandable; for there is nothing mankind so thirsts for as deliverance from the multitude of afflictions inevitably bound up with the "wages 'of sin," death (Rom. 6:23). Through the Resurrection of Christ death is conquered, the hellish power of sin is tramples down, and therefore we triumphantly glorify Pascha as a "deliverance from sorrow" (stichera of Pascha).
This is why the human heart is so sensitive and receptive to the bright Paschal joy!
But the whole fullness of Paschal joy is accessible to us only if we preserve an absolute faithfulness to the Risen Christ, an entire dedication to Him as our God and Savior, and a total irreconcilibility to His enemies.
It is not by accident that in the days of Holy Pascha, for the whole of Bright Week, at the Divine Liturgy in place of the Trisagion we sing the joyful hymn: "As many as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ, Alleluia"-a hymn which is an essential part of the great Mystery of Baptism. This is not only because before Pascha, on Great Saturday, many catechumens used to be baptized; there is also a special and profound mystical significance to it.
Baptism, as the Holy Apostle Paul teaches, is performed as an image of the death and Resurrection of Christ:
Know ye not, therefore, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His Resurrection. (Rom. 6:2-5)
These words of the Holy Apostle Paul are read in church precisely at the Divine Liturgy on Great Saturday, showing us the mystical bond that exists between the death and Resurrection of Christ and our own death to sin and resurrection to new life in the Mystery of Baptism.
Thus, the joy of Baptism and the joy of the Resurrection are essentially one and the same feeling-a feeling of great spiritual joy, "joy in the Lord."
This is the joy of spiritual renewal, the joy of putting on Christ, the joy of being joined to Christ as to the Source of eternal life, the joy of entire dedication and faithful ness to Christ as our Saviour, Who by His Resurrection has given us eternal life.
Let us not fear to be in the "minority" in today's world. The chief thing for us is to be among the small remnant of those who are saving their souls, of whom the Lord Himself spoke in these words:
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. (Luke 12:32)One who with all his soul belongs to this "little flock" of those being saved will fear nothing in the contemporary world of apostasy; not hi n g will be able to shake such one in his firmness of confession, in hi. standing for God's Truth. For with him is always the fullness of Paschal joy; with him isthe Risen Christ Himself, the Victor over hell and death.
(From Collected Sermons, Jordanville 1975, vol. 1, pp. 361-9).

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