Paschal Epistle of Archbishop Vladimir

Christ is Risen!

Beloved in Christ Clergymen, brothers and sisters, both in Homeland and in the Diaspora, Shepherds and the Flock of our Russian Orthodox Church Abroad!

Congratulations with the Grand  and Joyful Festival of the Bright Resurrection of Christ - our Lord's Pascha!

Easter is a transition from the Cross to immortality, a transition for all of us, each person, from the death of the original sin to the joy of the New Testament existence, to the joy of Resurrection.  The Cross is a symbol of God's love to mankind.  Every Christian bears his Cross per his abilities.  Fasting makes up a part of that Cross.  Particularly the Great Lent, The Holy Forty Days before the Feast of Pascha are also a part of Cross bearing.  Those who neglected the Cross of the Great Lent, do not have the complete joy of fully understanding the Feast of Christ's Resurrection.  The sacrifice of the Orthodox fast is a sacrifice for the sake of love of piety, the beginning of an attempt to fulfill this most important commandment of love for the Lord.  The joy of the Resurrection is fully realized when one co-lives the events that were before the Cross and after.  The Savior's last words before the completion of the redemption of mankind were: "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. " (John 19:30 (KJV)). In the same manner, our modest accomplishment of the Great Lent may be accepted by the Lord to grant us our redemption.

This preaching of the Cross through fasting is both for oneself and for anyone who, at least from the outside, senses this inner state of such a fasting Orthodox Christian.  Only fasting for the Cross can lead to the acquisition and sensitization of God's Gift of seeing your own sin, which can be the beginning of liberation from the carnal Egypt; of this joy of passing over it (Ex. 12: 13).

A distinctive serenity of Easter is granted to the one who had accomplished to shelter Christ in his heart, if such a man tried to attract His likeness by his own fasting for the Cross. Even if this lent represents only the beginning of some modest and insignificant, at first glance, spiritual effort.  For even in a small endeavor, the Merciful Lord can grant us the introduction of understanding of what Easter Joy would become after we strive to purify our leaven of vice abiding by the exhortation of the apostle: "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us" (1 Cor. 5:7).

Every Pascha we are also witnessing the futile efforts to take communion in it of those who are outside the Church; of those who are content with just the appearance of this Feast. It is those, who have rejected the Cross of the confession of true faith;  those who have rejected the tradition of Orthodoxy, exchanging it for the superficial tradition of the rite. We know that it is only after our Savior shed His Blood on the Cross and after His Resurrection, that our Lord has granted us the sacrament of baptism -  in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, to the joy of the spiritual rebirth.  Therefore, heretic-ritualists, who are deprived of true baptism and Communion, only have the joy of the rite.

The Holy Church praises: We bow to your Cross, O Lord, and glorify Thy Holy Resurrection! The Salvation is possible only  when we will be the true bearers of the Cross for the glory of the Lord. The Savior Himself said to His disciples: " If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross, and follow me." (Matt. 16:24). The Lord said not: Follow me, take up your Cross and then deny yourself, but just so: first of all, deny yourself. One must first abandon his self-esteem, self-love, his idols - sinfulness and passions. For without this it is impossible to bear correctly, orthodoxly,  one's Cross. This is the principle of spiritual work for everyone personally, and for our deprived and desecrated homeland, which has not yet rejected itself and its idols, its Sergian and ecumenical way. See for yourself what a miserable picture represent these tribulation-causing rulers who, in spiritual self-delusion and blindness, do not wish to reject, in themselves, the insanity of the perishing path:  as if they are fighting terrorism, but the head terrorist, who organized the Red Terror and shed rivers of blood in Russia, is carefully preserved in their mausoleum; as if they call themselves Orthodox and hold candles in their hands, whilst at this time, under their rule, idols continue to stand all over the country;  they visit the temples of the false church, but they do not want to see its heresies.  That's what happens to those who do not want to reject themselves, their idols, their lies and falsities. But the Holy Apostle and the Evangelist John commands: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." (1 John 5:21).

Therefore, beloved brethren and sisters, when celebrating this Feast of the Bright Resurrection of Christ, let us make every effort so that this celebration of ours would be pleasing to the Lord, and that we rise again into eternal life, and not into eternal perdition, and for this - first of all we will reject our idols - our passions from ourselves, and with the help of God we will keep our Orthodox faith, without which nor salvation, nor following the Christ, nor the spiritual deed is possible.

May the Risen Lord guide us in all our ways and resurrect our souls for eternal life. Amen.

Truly, Christ is Risen!

+Archbishop Vladimir

Lord's Pascha 2017