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Paschal Epistle of His Holiness, Patriarch KYRILL, to the Archpastors, Pastors, Deacons, Monks and Nuns, and All the Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church

Beloved in the Lord Most Reverend archpastors, reverend presbyters and deacons,
God-loving monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters!

On today’s "feast of feasts and Festival of festivals," which, as the Holy Hierarch Gregory the Theologian proclaims, "is far exalted above all others – not only those which are merely human and are of the earth, but even those which are of Christ himself, and are celebrated in His honor – as the sun is above the stars" (Oration 45 on Holy Pascha), it is with great joy that I address you with the greeting that is both ancient and eternally new, which all are long accustomed to and yet which forever compels our hearts to soar aloft:

CHRIST IS RISEN!

These two life-affirming words contain so much power that the countenances of people shine with spiritual joy from them and the world that surrounds us is literally transfigured: "All things are filled with light; heaven, and earth, and [even] the places under the earth. The whole world, both visible and invisible, keepeth the feast, for Christ the eternal gladness, is risen" (Paschal Canon).

The Resurrection of the Savior is not merely a historical event of which we know from Scripture. It is the cornerstone of our Faith and is, as the Holy Hierarch Philaret of Moscow states, "that which is eternally new, the fountain of our thoughts, of our amazement, of thanksgiving and hope" (Homily on Holy Pascha).

Through His Incarnation, Passion, and rising from the dead on the third day. the Savior renews human nature, delivers us from the power of sin and death, opens up to us the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven, and shows us the way to oneness with the Creator. It is indeed in Christ, "in whom the world was reconciled with God" (cf. II Cor. 5:19), that we may become sons by adoption and be justified, that we may find life everlasting, for "for there is none other name under heaven… whereby we must be saved… the name of Jesus Christ… Whom God raised from the dead" (cf. Acts 4:10-12).

The Savior’s rising from the tomb transforms death into immortality, sadness into joy, condemnation into hope. On the Cross and in the Resurrection the God of infinite goodness and perfect love is revealed to us.

The awareness of this all-conquering love of God arouses within us a sense of thanksgiving towards the Maker and grants to us the strength to overcome the times when our hearts endure the greatest affliction and arduous circumstances, it elevates us above the vanity of everyday life, it helps us to correct our former errors and casts down the despondency which hinders us in living a full life and growing spiritually.

People often succumb to the deceptive notion that evil reigns and triumphs, while good passes by unnoticed and is weak. Our mind hesitates in believing in the power of redemption which Christ has accomplished when it sees around us the death of those closest to us, when it hears of the eternal torments for sinners in the Gospel and contemplates "the world which lieth in wickedness" (I John 5:19). Yet for thousands of years the Church of God has borne convincing witness that the Savior has overcome sin and "destroyed death and despoiled Hades" (St. John Chrysostom. Paschal Catechetical Homily). Christ has cast aside the inevitability of death and the universality of evil, and we look upon their defeat through the eyes of faith from the age to come, from the lofty heights of Pascha.

The Lord’s rising from the tomb reminds us not only of the most important event of the past, but also testifies to the coming resurrection of all, "if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him" (I Thess. 4:14). It is, then, vital that we observe God’s commandments, accomplish deeds of love and mercy, participate in the sacramental life of the Church in order to partake in Christ’s victory, and remain faithful to Him to the end, recalling the words of Scripture: "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise" (Heb. 10:36).

For this reason, as the apostle exhorts us, dear brothers and sisters: "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward" (Heb. 10.35). And may the feast of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus be an unchanging reminder of these steadfast divine promises which grant to us hope and strength in even the most difficult of circumstances. May this solemnity inspire us all to live in faith and love, knowing that neither death, nor suffering, nor evil can ever overcome us if we are with Christ and in Christ, Who has vanquished sin, death, and all falsehood.

Let us, then, "keep the feast of the Lord’s Passover in conversation, moral conduct, and manner of life" (St. Athanasius the Great. 10th Paschal Letter), so that in being transformed into a new person in Christ we may "serve the living and true God, and wait for His Son from Heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (I Thess. 1:9-10). Amen.

+KYRILL
Patriarch of Moscow & All Russia

Christ’s Pascha 2024 A.D.

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Eastern American Diocese | Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia