Paschal Epistle of Archbishop Vladimir

Christ is Risen!

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

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

Realizing the deep meaning of the Resurrection of Christ, Orthodox Church celebrates this Feast and the bright days that follow with especially majestic Services.

By His Resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ showed and proved that He certinly is the true God, the Son of God, and that His teaching is true, heavenly, and saving. By His Resurrection, the Lord reconciled us with God the Father, redeemed us from the curse of the law, which was the punishment for disobedience of Adam and Eve and the whole human race; Has sanctified our nature, restored it and has given it salvation from the death. Before, people were dying without the hope of resurrection, all were in the power of hell, and Christ, through His death, has delivered us from it and opened the doors of heaven for us.

“A Pascha that hath opened the gates of Paradise to us!”. “We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of hades, the beginning of another life eternal!”. All will be resurrected and come to life, some for everlasting life, and others for condemnation, depending on how they lived with their bodies, as the Holy Apostle Paul says: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

And what did the Lord suffer for us, even before His Resurrection, in order to return to us the lost bliss of paradise; and what example of His earthly life did He
leave for us?

He allowed satan to tempt Him; He allowed jews to bind, torture, mock and nail Him to the cross - in order to redeem men from the power of the devil and all his contraptions. The Strong One becomes weak, the Almighty stands powerless, The Most Glorious and All-Holy becomes the most contemptible; the Most Beautiful One endures spitting, beating, suffering and torment, in order not only to show and give us an example of sacrificial love, but also to shame those of us, who indulge in luxury and loafing, and oftentimes would reluctantly take upon ourselves even a minor disturbance and a cross for the sake of God and our neighbor; and then weep and complain about that small cross that the Lord sends us for our correction and salvation.

He acted not as a great and distinguished teacher showing off his wisdom, but acting with meekness and humility, in true adornment of Divine power, taught in simple words. Because of this, he suffered humiliation and contempt from the proud scribes and Pharisees, although He is the eternal Wisdom and Light, and the Illuminator of the whole earth.

He did not show His Divine Glory everywhere and at all times and even forbade talking about His miracles, but was staying, eating and drinking with sinners in order to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). For this, He received derogatory and mocking names: “a friend of publicans and sinners” (Luke 7:34), “a Samaritan” (John 8:48), and was even blasphemed (8, 48). He even allowed to hang Himself on the cross as if the greatest criminal, between the two thieves (Matt. 27, 38), in order to bear upon Himself our atrocities. In His Divine Holiness, He could walk the earth in radiant glory, but he chose to remain in simplicity and modesty, teaching us by this example to fight with our pride and hypocrisy, so that we would not extol ourselves before our neighbors and would not think of ourselves highly, oftentimes having only an appearance of piety.

Being the King and Lord, He could surround Himself with many servants, but He Himself became the poorest servant; being the Wisdom, He preselected untutored fishermen as his chosen ones. As the Lord, He could have had the full authority over His disciples, but He Himself appeared before them "as he that serveth" (Luke 22:27), washing their feet (John 13: 5).

Thus, we see that the Lord did not want to have anything that the world so much loves, that we so often love; while that which is unpleasant for us, that we often hate - the Lord loved. We often chase the satisfaction of our selfishness, ambition and self-rule, do not want to endure anything, do not want to submit and obey anyone, look only for our imaginary freedom and want to fulfill only our own will. But our Lord Jesus Christ did not live like this at all, and, by His Holy example which is so clearly exposed in the Holy Gospel, taught us quite differently. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”(Matthew 11:29). For “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5: 5), as the Holy Apostle Peter says about this.
In His Resurrection, Christ was glorified as the Son of God, in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt (Col. 2: 9).
Triumphing now, we must remember that our Pascha is Christ Himself, love for whom is manifested primarily by fulfilling His commandments: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Our Lord and God Jesus Christ accepted our human nature into eternal unity with Him. The Resurrection of Christ grants the common resurrection to all people for eternity: the righteous inherit eternal bliss, and sinners inherit the eternal torment.
Therefore, let us prepare our temporary life to eternal life by imitating the life of our Lord Jesus Christ and by fulfilling His commandments; and at this time let us give thanks to our Risen Savior for the joy of the resurrection; let us pray, endure, and trust in the mercy of God, so that we may be worthy of the eternal, radiant joy and cheerfulness of the Most Holy Pascha in the Everlasting Days of Christ's Kingdom. Amen.

Christ is Risen!

+Archbishop Vladimir.

Christ's Pascha, 2019