Pascal Epistle 1976

Paschal Encyclical for the Radiant Resurrection of Christ

To all the Faithful Children of the Syracuse-Trinity Diocese 
and Pious Pilgrims to the Holy Trinity Monastery:

What a marvelous and radiant joy, inexpressible for the human tongue, there is on this sacred and all-festive saving night of the Resurrection, "on which the Eternal Light bodily shone forth on all from the tomb."

All this is only for us, the Orthodox.

In truth, "now all is filled with light, the heaven and the earth and the nether regions" and, according to the measure of our faith and love for the Lord, we now sense how together with us "all creation celebrates the rising of Christ, in which it is confirmed."

The sun itself, rising on this morning "of the purifying Pascha" dances with its rays in an extraordinary manner, as if greeting the "Sun of Righteousness" that has shone forth upon us from the tomb.

In an especially real way, our pious Orthodox Russia people sensed and relived this pure Paschal joy, which cannot be compared with anything earthly, after their fervent and diligent preparation for it by a lengthy, seven-week period of strict fasting.  And all of our life, because of this, is transformed by grace, reflecting heavenly light.

And this is not surprising!  For by His Radiant Resurrection, Christ "translated us from death to life and from earth to heaven."  And we cannot help but sing this victorious hymn from the heart, for on this light-bearing day we "celebrate the dying of death, the destruction of hell, the beginning of another, eternal life."

From the moment, death, which is so grievous a fate for man, is no longer fearsome and morbid for us.  For as we Christians believe and as the Holy Church teaches us to pray on the great day of Pentecost, "there is no longer, O Lord, death for Thy servants, for when we depart from the body and pass on to Thee, our God, this is a translation from the most sorrowful to the most beneficial and sweetest, unto repose and joy."

And from this earth, burdened with many sins, sinking in numberless passions and ungodliness, becoming here already the entrance to hell, "Christ God has translated us to heaven."

And now "on this saving and radiant night," to all of us whose heart is not too hopelessly darkened and poisoned by sinful passions and desires, there is granted by the Risen Lord Himself a taste, as it were, of the first-fruit of that heavenly bliss of paradise, of which the Word of God teaches, "eye hath not seen or ear heard not that there entered unto the heart of men the things that God hath prepared for those that Love Him" (I Cor. 2:9).

But, alas, how far the contemporary world has departed from this, becoming almost completely enslaved both physically and spiritually to the servants of satan, who are preparing for the reign of the enemy of our Risen Lord – the Antichrist!

And how urgently, therefore, satanic evil is rushing across the whole world, depriving helpless people of the radiant joy of the Resurrection and warping them into dumb cattle!!!  And how drastically with each passing day, all of contemporary life changes for the worse; such hideous fruits of de-humanization are thus produced everywhere!

Such a mad and fierce struggle is being waged now against Christ the Savior and His faithful servants by these maddened satanists, striving in their blind wickedness to poison in the hearts of people the saving faith in His glorious Resurrection!

How much they have attained to here the so-called "free world," where the great event of the Resurrection of Christ is scarcely celebrated anymore; and how much more in our helpless homeland, which formerly so magnificently and solemnly celebrated the radiant day of the Lord's Pascha, when the ringing of the bells reminded everyone of it, no matter who or where he might be!

But there must be no place for despair for us before this sorrowful spectacle of the widening spread of satanic evil everywhere.  We know all too well that the evil rejoicing of these servants of darkness and hell will be short-lived; this is only a temporary victory for them, and at that an imaginary one, only seeming to be such, for without faith in Christ and His glorious Resurrection, there is nothing and no reason for people to live!

Christ is Risen, and hell is already conquered; He delivered from the power of the devil who sincerely believe on Him and the power of His Resurrection.  This is why the wonderful sermon of St. John Chrysostom sounds so joyful for us on the night of Pascha!

"Where is thy sting, O death?  Where is thy victory, O hell?  Christ is Risen, and thou art cast down!  Christ is Risen and the demons are crushed.  Christ is Risen and the angels rejoice.  Christ is Risen and life is abounding.  Christ is Risen and there is not a single dead man in the tomb."

Christ is Risen – and we believe that our Homeland, defiled, disgraced, and crucified by the enemies of Christ, also shall rise again.  Certain consoling signs of this can already be observed.  And without the resurrection of homeland, Russia, which was the luminary of the true faith of Christ for the whole world, there is no salvation for the rest of mankind which has fallen away from Christ.

But one way or another, the final victory will be for the conqueror of death and hell.  And, perhaps, the hour is near when there will be fulfilled the prophecy in the Divinely revealed Word of God:

"Lo, He cometh on the clouds of heaven, with great power and glory, and every eye seeth Him on the clouds of heaven, with great power and glory, and every eye seeth Him and they also who persecuted Him, and before Him all the nations of the earth shall lament and weep" (Rev. 1:7; Matt. 24:30).

Then shall begin the time of blessed eternity for all those who believed on Christ: – "For Christ being risen from the dead is become the first fruit of the dead."  "The dead shall arise and those in the tombs shall stand up."  To Him be the glory and dominion for ages of ages.

The Humble Averky
Archbishop of Syracuse and Holy Trinity Monastery

This was the last Paschal Encyclical written by the Blessed Archbishop Averky, it was delivered at Holy Trinity Monastery and the Syracuse-Trinity Diocese on Holy Pascha, 1976
Works Vol I

No comments: