(translated from the Greek)
"For our Pascha, Christ, was sacrificed for us." (1)
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ and Children in the risen Lord:
Our Holy Church, on the radiant and glorious Resurrection of our Saviour
Jesus Christ, once again celebrates and exults and rejoices "with an
unspeakable and glorious joy." (2)
Her light-bearing children, named after Christ, surround the life-containing
Sepulchre of the risen God-Man "celebrating an eternal
All of the devout Orthodox living on earth, united in a single choir
with lit candles, invite all creation to a universal celebration, chanting
divinely inspired _troparion_ of St. John Damascene:
"Let the heavens rejoice in worthy manner and let the earth exult; let
the whole world celebrate, both visible and invisible, for Christ is risen,
eternal delight." (4)
This festal and enthusiastic joy is experienced continually by our Orthodox
Church; delight in the Resurrection is one of the primary
characteristics of Orthodox spirituality, of the genuine life in Christ.
The Jews, living in the shadow of the symbols and prefigurations of
the New Testament, celebrated the Pascha of the Law, sacrificing a lamb
eating unleavened bread for seven days.
We Christians, however, celebrate the true and Divine and supernatual Pascha not just once a year, but continually throughout all our lives, eating, according to the Apostle Paul, the unleavened bread of "sincerity and truth"; (5) that is, living, as the Fathers say, "the purity of life and of the dogmatic truth." (6)
Our Paschal Lamb is now our Lord Jesus Christ, "the new Pascha, the
living sacrifice," (7) "the Lamb of God" (8) Who "taketh away," and obliterates
with His Blood, the sins of all the world.
"For our Pascha Christ was sacrificed for us," (9) notes the Holy Apostle Paul.
And of this rational and eternal Lamb sacrificed for us, we eat unceasingly in the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist, for which reason we enjoy, throughout all our lives, an unending Pascha, celebrating in a godly and holy manner.
St. John Chrysostom speaks to us with particular Grace about the festal character of Christian life:
"Every hour," says this Divine father, "is a time of festivity for Christians, on account of the excess of blessings bestowed"; "now let on one be dejected over poverty or illness or tribulations, for every hour is a festal one." (10)
Elsewhere the God-Bearing Apostle Paul invites us thus:
"Always rejoice"; "rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say: rejoice." (11)
* * *
HENCE, The faithful rejoice and exult today, for "Christ is risen and life abounds," (12) and truly life prevails. The Orthodox rejoice and celebrate all of their lives, for they eat and drink "the very sacred Body" and "the very sacred Blood of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, shed for the life and salvation of the world." (13)
But they also rejoice and delight because, being under the all-radiant protection of the ever blessed _Theotokos_ and "walking as children of light," (14) they have assurance that, "through the gift of the Spirit of Jesus Christ" (15), they are already, in this present life, "children of the resurrection." (16)
As Christ-Bearing children of the Church, we Orthodox Christians await with intense and firm expectation and hope the revelation of the fullness of the gifts of the Resurrection and their glory at the Second Coming of our Lord on the "Last Day." (17)
"For we know that when He shall appear," says St. John the Theologian, "we shall be like unto Him, for we shall behold Him as He is." (18)
And the Apostle Paul adds:
"When Christ our life shall appear, then ye shall appear in glory." (19)
Now, in this present life, we taste "the first fruit of the Spirit," (20) that is, we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit as a certain pledge of the blessings to come. This means that we have already begun to be like unto our Lord in glory through adoption in Christ: "For now we are children of God" but "it hath not yet been revealed what we shall be." (21)
Then, on the Last Day, there shall be wholly and actively unfolded the
adoption by Grace and our likeness unto God; the vision of His glory shall
make us like unto Him; that is, we shall become, as the Saints explain:
"...like unto Him: as pure unto the Pure One, as righteous unto the
righteous One, as radiant unto the Radiant One, as light unto the Light,
as suns by participation unto the primal and genuine source, the Sun, and as gods by Grace with Him That is God by nature." (22)
* * *
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ and Children in the Lord:
This is the lofty purpose of our life, our lofty calling: that we become like unto the God-Man and participate in His uncreated Glory and Blessedness.
With constant vigilance, in repentance and love and purity, let us keep
alive and intense our expectation of the vision of our glorified Saviour
Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory, honor and worship, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, unto the ages. Amen.
Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Holy Pascha of the year of Salvation 1999
Your intercessor before the risen Lord,
+ Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili
President of the Holy Synod in Resistance
Note (from the webmaster): the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is a sister church of , and in full communion with Metropolitan Cyprian's synod.
1) I Cor. 5: 7.
2) I St. Peter 1: 8.
3) Canon of Holy Pascha, Ode 5.
4) Ibid., Ode 1.
5) I Cor. 5: 8.
6) Euthymios Zigabenos.
7) Canon of Holy Pascha, Ode 9, _Megalynarion_.
8) John 1: 29; Isaiah 53.
9) 1 Cor. 5: 7.
10) St. John Chrystostom, _Patrologia Graeca_, 61: 125.
11) I Thes. 5: 16; Phil. 4: 4.
12) St. John Chrysostomos, "Catechetical Homily."
13) St. Basil the Great, "Prayer of the Anaphora."
14) See Eph. 5: 8.
15) Phil. 1: 19.
16) St. Luke 20: 36.
17) St. John 6: 40.
18) I St. John 3: 2.
19) Col. 3: 4.
20) Rom. 8: 23.
21) I St. John 3: 2.
22) St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, _Commentary on the Seven Catholic
Epistles..._, (Venice 1806), p. 241.