Easter Epistle of Archbishop Vladimir

Christ is Risen!

Beloved in Christ fathers, brothers and sisters, monastics, clerics and the flock of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia!

Congratulations with the Great and Joyful Feast of the Bright Resurrection of Christ!

For every believing Orthodox Christian, no one and nothing can overshadow the greatness and joy of this Radiant Feast. Truly, when the power of hell is bound and cast down, when death is trampled upon, when heaven's doors are opened, how can we not give thanks to the Lord and rejoice in His great favours and infinite love for the human race?

“Christ is risen and the demons are cast down. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life is freed.”

“For it pleased the Father” “to reconcile all things unto Himself” by His beloved Son, “through the blood of His cross”, “whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven,” said Apostle Paul (Col. 1:19-20).

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord of peace: “Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means.” (2 Thess. 3:16). “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27). The Holy Gospel of our Saviour is the gospel of peace: “And when He”, Christ Jesus came, He “preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh” (Eph. 2:17).

This spiritual peace is enjoyed by those who try to live not by the strivings and interests of this earthly world which lies in evil, but by those who try to live a spiritual and Church life, trying to direct their thoughts not to the earthly, but to the spiritual things: “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6).

But this earthly world, with its passions and lusts, which does not follow Christ's teaching, or has fallen away from Christ, or even hates and fights against Christ's teaching, this world is plunged into evil: “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19). “The world” hateth me, “because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” (John 7:7).

This world, which resists the spiritual kingdom of Christ, does not have the spiritual peace of stillness and joy, the peace of Christ: “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:22), “The way of peace they know not”, “they have made” their goings “crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace” (Isaiah 59:8).

An unholy life is not only completely contrary to Christ and true Christianity, but it also inflames the righteous wrath of God and causes great chastisements, so that God allows different punishments, or punishes us through His creation: heaven and earth, fire and water are at war with us, and all nature sighs and laments.

When we have to face such punishments as fires, earthquakes, floods, wars, plagues, epidemics and diseases, we should remember and realize that the wrath of God is sent because people seek only the temporal and forget the eternal, they are more concerned about the body than about the soul, think more about the earthly than about the heavenly things, allocating most of their love to “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16), rather than their Creator and Maker; and this is the greatest ingratitude and contempt of God, which He will punish temporarily in this life, and eternally in the life beyond the grave. Is it not the greatest blindness, to cleave more to that which is corruptible than to that which is incorruptible?

The enemy of the human race does not sleep, but attempts to destroy every person, trying to instill that instead of spiritual life of Grace, instead of prayer, conversation with God, instead of love and joy, people should be more involved in their passions and sins, in arguments, disagreements, feuds or even in killing each other.

But the Lord wants everyone to come to repentance, to turn from this transitory world to Christ, so that everyone truly believes in Him and lives not in a pagan way, but in Christian love, abiding “under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 90:1). To this the Lord Himself calls: “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass.” (Luke 21:36).

Therefore, every Orthodox Christian must, with God's help, strive so that his heart, his love, joy or sorrow, wealth or poverty, his life and thoughts would reside not in hope of temporary things, but in things eternal, to result in eternal life: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34). Out of love of this world and its pleasures nothing but condemnation will result, for “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:17). That is why St. John the Theologian says, “My children!” “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” (2:15).

It is through the resurrection of Christ that we are reborn into eternal life, as St. Peter says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1: 3-7).

The Risen Jesus, resurrect our souls! Amen.

Christ is risen!

+Archbishop Vladimir

Lord’s Pascha, 2022