CHRIST IS RISEN!
These triumphant words, full of rejoicing, are now addressed to each one of you, reverend clergy and pious laity of our Holy Orthodox Church.
Christ’s Pascha has again come into our churches and homes, into our cities and settlements, into our souls and hearts, illuminating us with the Unfading Light, the Light of God’s Kingdom, the Light of exultant Paschal joy.
The Resurrection of Christ is the foundation of our faith. It is the strongest evidence of the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the truth of His teachings, and the majesty of His gifts of grace.
In the Orthodox calendar there are many days established in memory of events of Sacred History, only one of which the Church recalls always: Christ’s Resurrection from the dead. Paschal joy has no time limit. It is not a feast that is celebrated and then waited for until the next year. At every service, at every Mystery is declared: “Christ, our true God, Who has risen from the dead”; every week we gather for Liturgy on Sunday in remembrance of Christ’s Resurrection.
But, despite the constant remembrance of the Resurrection, the feast of Pascha is always new, always anticipated, always joy-giving. The Gospel has been preached throughout the whole world, but for every generation it is always the fact of His Resurrection that is the boundary that separates belief from disbelief, and believers from unbelievers, because “if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).
The very moment of the Lord’s Resurrection is not something from the past that is simply recalled: the Church constantly speaks of it as an event from the present, which is reflected in the verse chanted at the Vigil: “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus…” It is not something that was once seen by someone – it is we who, having seen Christ’s Resurrection, that worship the Lord Jesus! The event of the Resurrection remembered on the day of the Feast of Pascha is understood as a reality, as a permanent “now,” of which we have become the participants and witnesses. In the apt words of one contemporary theologian, “we live in Resurrected time.”
On the feast of Pascha, the Church tells us that we have been called to become the people of God, living according to the Lord’s commandments. Great Lent precedes the Luminous Resurrection of Christ. It ends on the Lord’s Day, the day of joy, but let us not forget that, in the words of St. Gregory the Theologian, “the main thing in the feast is the remembrance of God.” And although all traditionally greet Pascha around the table with family and friends, let us remember that upright behavior which “expresses its joy not in drunkenness and feasting,” but in joy worthy of the feast (St. Gregory of Nyssa).
Pascha is the holy brotherhood of all humanity. On this day, every Christian should look upon all people as their greatest treasure, seeing in them their brothers and sisters, rejoicing with them as with their closest friends.
May the Light of Christ’s Resurrection preserve in our hearts the joy of life, mutual love, brotherhood between people, and peace between nations. And may we, sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father, having been strengthened by the victory of life over death and good over evil, forgive one another our faults; having been inspired by Divine love, let us embrace one another and say:
“TRULY CHRIST IS RISEN!”
Tranlated from the Russian.