PATRIARCHAL AND SYNODAL PASCHA ENCYCLICAL - 2013
Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say, Rejoice! (cf.Phil.4:4)
CHRIST IS RISEN!
Beloved Children in the Lord of our Holy Church,
Full of the unfailing and unclouded rejoicing of all Christian folks, we are now welcoming again the Resurrected Christ, the Word of God, the Alpha and Omega of our faith and our hope. The One who was predicted to our ancestors to come at the dawn of human history, or the Messiah, the Redeemer and the Savior, the King of kings and the Sovereign of all the creation, the ultimate Conqueror of corruption and death, the Life-Giver Jesus Christ! The One who came down from the kingly and heavenly throne for us men, and for our salvation and who was made in the image of us, so that by being God-Man, He is the One bringing us to reconciliation with God, as He has broken once and for all the trammels of darkness. He is the One Who was judged by men and suffered death for our sins, but He rose again in three days, most triumphantly revealing the integrity of the sacrificial love of God.
For by the good providence of God, man was meant to be the crown of creation and he was born for incorruption, being totally alien to death. For God created him to be a reflection of His eternity (cf.Sol.2:23). And He was the only One who has ever given man the divine gift of freedom. But by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men (cf.Rom.5:12). And there was no hoping for the hopeless ones, for all have sinned and came short of the glory of God (cf.Rom.3:23). Still, being true to His promises, God has entered human history upon his own will in order to change irreversibly its course through restoring the original order and whosoever believeth in Him was given thereunto the possibility to find not only his or her divine vocation but also the lost path to the heavenly fatherland. But, now, the One who has won victory over death is risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept (cf.1Cor.15:20). And He has built His Church, giving promise to us that the gates of hell shall never prevail against it (cf.Math.16:18).
And there is this Church now which has been for whole two millennia proclaiming and praising the good news of His victory and His Resurrection. The good news that Christ resurrected and there is no dead man left in his grave; that Christ resurrected and brought life to men (St. John Chrysostom). The good news of the recovered righteousness of God as well as of our New Testament with our Heavenly Father; of the joy we were given back at dawn, standing at the empty Sepulcher; of the light enlightening all the creation on the Day of Pascha; of the joyful day which God hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it and let us forgive one another everything for the sake of the Resurrection, as the Divine Service has been calling on us in these Paschal days. Thus, being truthful disciples and apostles of Christ, let us never get tired with proclaiming to the world the risen Lord!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Glorious mysteries lie in the providence of God and the depths of God's mercy are unfathomable. Whatever God made through Jesus Christ in all the days of His service on earth was for the life of the world (cf.John 3:16), as the Evangelist testified. True to its divine vocation, the Church shall always remember and proclaim the high mystery: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory (cf.Tim.3:16). And the Church shall never forget that God is a loving Father of our future, for when the fullness of the time came, he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (cf.John 3:16). And we shall be always joining the joy of the Lord's disciples in morn of Pascha: Rejoice (cf.Math.28:9). For if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain... But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept (cf.1Cor.15, 20).
Christ's resurrection is triumph of life which is the greatest gift ever given to man.
In the delightful day of Christ's Resurrection we are fatherly and most kindly wishing to all of you, faithful children of our Orthodox Church, who are living here in our Fatherland and abroad, spiritual peace and overflowing paschal joy!
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ who rose from the dead be upon all of you!
CHRIST IS RISEN!
HEAD OF THE HOLY SYNOD † NEOPHIT
PATRIARCH OF BULGARIA
AND METROPOLITAN OF SOFIA
LOCUM TENENS OF THE DIOCESE OF ROUSSE
† Metropolitan KALINIK of Vratsa
† Metropolitan IOANICIUS of Sliven
† Metropolitan DOMETIAN of Vidin
† Metropolitan KIRILL 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 NATHANEIL of Nevrokop
† Metropolitan IGNATIUS of Pleven
† Metropolitan GALAKTION of Stara Zagora
† Metropolitan GAVREIL of Lovech
† Metropolitan NICKOLAI of Plovdiv
† Metropolitan AMBROSIUS of Dorostol
Pascha - 5th of May, 2013