PASCHAL MESSAGE - 2011
CHRIST IS RISEN!
PASCHAL MESSAGE OF THE PATRIARCH
AND THE HOLY SYNOD OF BISHOPS
"Ever blessing the Lord, we hymn His Resurrection; for, having endured crucifixion, He hath destroyed death by death." (Paschal Hours)
CHRIST IS RISEN!
Beloved in the Resurrected Lord
Children of our Holy Church,
It is Pascha again and the Church is rejoicing! Life triumphs and death hath been slained! We are again suffused with that great joy which, though going beyond description, is felt in the hearts of all the faithful at the dawn of Christ's Resurrection! Christ is Risen!
On and on gong along are days and years, centuries and millennia, still the joy of the Resurrection would never be overshadowed. Nothing can ever drown the unparalleled announcement of the Resurrected Lord, the Word of the Father, Who got embodied in human flesh and personified like we are in order to redeem us from our sin and bestow everlasting life. Ages elapsing, all sorts of human teachings loom into sight and then die, a variety of "teachers" and "saviors" come into appearance and then disappear, but the word of Christ's Resurrection hath never reduced its fascination to our hearts and minds. It keeps reminding us, as we are the ones who stick to the promise, that we have a house eternal in Heaven, in the Kingdom of the Father, Who gave His only begotten Son, that "whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
So, year after year, Pascha after Pascha, the most ineffable and wonderful event in the divine human history remains central to the faith and hope and love of millions disciples and witnesses of Christ who grow in number every day; and today, behold, two thousand years after, the Lord adds to the church daily such as should be saved (cf. Acts 2:47). And no vicissitudes, no life commotions, neither all the vanity of this world can obliterate from the consciousness of millions of faithful the word about Jesus Christ, of the One Who was crucified and, then, "the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures". And isn't this the utmost testimony to the truthfulness of our faith and our hope?
"In him was life; and the life was the light of men" (John 1:4). This is what has been written by the Evangelist inspired by God and there are these two words: life and light, which are the ones invested with all that was most craved for by our predecessors who then lived deep in the hopelessness of darkness and death. It is exactly life and light what was missing to men most, for though they had once been created after His image and had been called upon to live their everlasting life in godlike manner, it so happened that they brought themselves to corruption and death because of the disobedience of one single man. And then there was Life Himself that came to men: "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst" (John 6:35). So the Son of God, the hoped-for Messiah heralded the auspicious year of the Lord: "I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). His disciples, too, felt this was true, when they told Him: "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). So they never went away from Him, as "never man spake like this man" (John 7:46). And His words proved to be true, for now we have it: "Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life reigns! Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave!" (Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom) Therefore, let us cry out together with the Apostle: "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice" (Phil. 4:4).
This special joy, the joy that life shone forth from the sepulcher in the Paschal dawn, is the unchanging response of the Church to despondency, skepticism and despair which, unfortunately, often take the place of our faith and our hope. Rejoicing in the Resurrection is the energy that safeguards us whenever we tend to be carried away by what is earthly and transitional rather than with what is spiritual, this way forgetting about the house prepared for us in Heaven. Whenever, seeking the truth of men, we disregard the eternal truth of God. Whenever, aspiring to make this life of ours more comfortable and well-arranged, we neglect the coming life. Whenever we forget the words of our Savior: "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).
Today, dear beloved, the Christian world is celebrating the Feast of Life, the Feast of Light! Being the faithful ones, who 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" (Rom. 6:4), we all feel exulted and greatly rejoiced today. For, yes, indeed, He is Risen! "Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept" (1Cor.15:20). For we are sure that "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1Cor.15:22). We have been provided a guarantee and this guarantee is the One Who is Risen in the Paschal dawn, that is Jesus Christ, or the Son of God, the Word of the Father, our Redeemer and Savior. That same One who has reconciled us with Heaven, opening once more for us the gates of Paradise bliss. Glory, worship and laud ever and for ever to Him and to His Father and to the most holy and good and life-giving Spirit of His!
CHRIST IS RISEN!
On the Day of Christ's Resurrection we are fatherly greeting all faithful children of our holy Orthodox Church - both those who are living within our Motherland and who are living abroad - wishing them spiritual and physical health, plenty of Paschal joy and good and successful advance in the work of following Christ Who is our Pascha. Amen!
HEAD OF THE HOLY SYNOD
PATRIARCH OF BULGARIA
AND METROPOLITAN OF SOFIA
† Metropolitan KALINIK of Vratsa
† Metropolitan JOANICIUS of Sliven
† Metropolitan DOMETIAN of Vidin
† Metropolitan CYRIL of Varna and Velicky Preslav
† Metropolitan JOSEPH of USA, Canada and Australia
† Metropolitan SIMEON of Western and Central Europe
† Metropolitan GREGORIUS of Velicko Turnovo
† Metropolitan NEOPHIT of Rousse
† Metropolitan NATHANEIL of Nevrokop
† Metropolitan IGNATIUS of Pleven
† Metropolitan GALAKTION of Stara Zagora
† Metropolitan GABRIEL of Lovech
† Metropolitan NICHOLAUS of Plovdiv
† Metropolitan AMBROSIUS of Dorostol