Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and all Russia: Paschal Message to Hierarchs, Pastors, Monastics and All Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church (2007)

I address now these triumphant words, full of rejoicing, to each of you, Your Graces my brothers the archpastors, most-honourable pastors and deacons, God-loving monks and nuns, and pious laity of our Holy Orthodox Church.
admin | 08 April 2007

Thou did descend into the nether regions of earth, O Christ, and did
shatter the eternal bars which held the prisoners captive; and like
Jonah from the sea-monster, after three days Thou did rise from the
grave.

Irmos of Canticle Six of the Paschal Canon

Christ is risen!

I address now these triumphant words, full of rejoicing, to each of
you, Your Graces my brothers the archpastors, most-honourable pastors
and deacons, God-loving monks and nuns, and pious laity of our Holy
Orthodox Church.

Christ’s Passover has once more come to our churches and homes, to our
towns and villages, to our parish communities and monastic houses, to
our souls and hearts, and has illumined us with the unfading Light, the
Light of the kingdom of God, the Light of exultant Paschal joy.

The redemptive sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Bright
Resurrection has brought to humanity incomparable freedom – freedom
from sin and destruction. Yet it is only he who entrusts himself to
Christ the Saviour, who accepts him as ‘the way, the truth, and the
life’ (Jn 14:6), – only he acquires this freedom, for as the Gospel
says, ‘If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And
ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ (Jn
8:31-32). This truth is our risen Lord Jesus Christ who has destroyed
the power of Hades and death and who grants us the freedom to choose
life eternal. In his Paschal Homily, which is read in every church on
this radiant feast, St John Chrysostom says: ‘Let no one fear death,
for the death of our Saviour has delivered us from it.’ Let us then,
together with the Holy Mother Church, sing praises to the Saviour’s
victory over death, let us be exultant, rejoicing in the redemption wh!
ich has been granted to us, let us endeavour to share this feast with
those who yet abide in the slavery to sin so that we may bring them to
liberty in Christ and to life eternal. Let us keep ‘the perfect law of
liberty’ (Jas 1:25) and teach it to those near and far, recalling that
the keeping of this law in our hearts and its fulfilment allow the
human person to stand without shame before the face of the Righteous
Judge.

There are many people alongside us who believe that freedom is brought
by money or power, strength or health, by a cult of ‘all is permitted’
and immorality. In worshiping these idols of this age, in outdoing each
other in pride and egoism, they ever let out of sight the fact that
they are becoming ever more mired in slavery – the slavery of
self-love, vice and passions. Good comes to those who visit God’s
church and here realize what true freedom is and how to embark on the
way of perfection. Good comes to those who, for the sake of acquiring
this freedom, labour diligently for their salvation, keeping fidelity
to Christ amidst the turbulence and afflictions of this age.

Our Church goes steadily along the path of regeneration. In a society,
where until quite recently people renounced God and then exerted much
effort in pursuit of the deceptive goods of this world, the number of
people who try to live as Orthodox Christians is growing. Yet so that
perfect joy, the joy of the risen Lord may grow from year to year in
the hearts of compatriots, we are faced with having to grow in virtue
and to call our neighbours to do likewise.

In his great and ineffable mercy the Lord blesses our endeavours in
building up parish and monastic communities. In all spheres of life in
our society – in the economics, politics, and in the family – the
understanding that we need to build our lives according to the
foundations of Christian morality is gaining ground. Yet we still have
to labour much. We ought to be especially concerned for the
strengthening of the family in order to make it strong and harmonious,
capable of educating new generations in righteousness and honour, in
Spirit and in Truth. If our families truly become ‘little Churches,’
strong in a single faith, replete with the mutual love of husbands and
wives, parents and children, then our people will forget about the
moral crisis and the many calamities engendered by this crisis.

In all places – whether in church or at home, or in the work place
where we labour – wherever the Lord directs us, we are to be witnesses
of Christ crucified and risen, we are to illumine the world with the
light of spiritual joy, wisdom, peace and liberty. Herein lies our
mission to the world where there is still much suffering, lack of
faith, enmity, injustice, vice and unrighteousness. Let us then
vanquish them with the Light of Christ and the power of his grace! Let
us fulfil the apostle’s commandment to ‘stand fast therefore in the
liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again
with the yoke of bondage’ (Gal 5:1). And let us always recall the words
the Lord said to his disciples as he appeared to them after the
Resurrection: ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: a!
nd, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.’
(Mt 28:19-20).

From the depths of my heart I congratulate you, beloved archpastors,
fathers, brothers and sisters, on the feast of Christ’s Bright
Resurrection. I send Paschal greetings to all Orthodox Christians who
are ‘from end to end of the universe.’ I hasten to share the joy of
Holy Pascha with everyone who confesses the risen Christ, with all
people amidst whom God has judged us to live. May joy, peace and his
gracious succour in good deeds be granted to all of you, my beloved
ones, by the Saviour of the world who has risen from the tomb.

Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

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