Easter 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 and Joyous Feast of the Bright Resurrection of Christ!
This great holiday is the most revered among Orthodox Christians, "surpassing all celebrations” of other Christian Feasts “as much as the sun surpasses the stars." This Holy and Great Day is not even included in the Twelve Feasts, as if standing above any celebration. This great Feast symbolizes the change and renewal of the whole world and the Salvation of man, the triumph of life over death, good over evil and light over darkness.
In the Old Testament, "Passover" stands for the exodus of the Jews from Egypt and the deliverance of the Jewish people from Egyptian slavery. Saint Ignatius (Brianchaninov) in his commentaries especially emphasizes that this event must be understood as an exodus from spiritual Egypt to the Promised Land, i.e. the transition from sin to Holiness, from death to Eternal Life. Therefore, Easter is a transition from a state of slavery to sin - to freedom and fullness of life in Christ.
The Feast of the Resurrection of Christ is called Bright for a reason. The entire subsequent week is called "Bright": "Bright Monday", "Bright Tuesday", etc. The priests put on light-colored vestments. All believers rush to the temple of God to attend the bright Matins. Their soul, striving for the Truth, is drawn to the light of the Inescapable Sun of Truth. All believers on this Holy night palpably feel the abundance of bright joy of the Resurrection of Christ. The Russian word "holy" – “svyatoi” has a related meaning with the word "light" - “svyet”, and actually means: "shining" or "cleansing."
In the Festive Easter Gospel, we hear: “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not… That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:4,5,9).
“The Light of Christ enlightens everyone,” - proclaims the Holy Church at every Matins and at every Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. The Light of Christ, as Holy Gregory Palamas says, is uncreated, being the light of the Divine nature. The natural, created light, whether solar daylight or even electrical, can be beneficial only in this temporary life, but can in no way raise a person to heaven, in no way can it transform the temporal to the eternal, the perishable to the incorruptible. Only the uncreated Light of Christ can transform a person with the radiance of eternity, filling all those who wish to receive It with peace, bright joy and love.
With the Resurrection of Christ, a new bright world of Holiness, Truth and Bliss was revealed to man.
The Lord alone can enlighten with True Light and deliver from spiritual blindness: ” The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach” the “sight to the blind” (Luke 4:18). “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).
The Holy Church chants daily, in the prayer of the First Hour: " O Christ, the True Light, Who enlightenest and sanctifiest every man that cometh into the world." This Light of eternity always shines, it shines even now, when, it would seem, the whole world, the entire human race is enveloped in the darkness of unbelief and Apostasy. This darkness manifests itself in the area of Dogmatic teaching and in the area of morality, but even in spite of this widespread darkness of Apostasy, the Light of Christ continues to shine and sanctify every person striving for Salvation. This is precisely what the Bright Easter Night testifies to us, when we hear the Gospel words that this Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.
But often, especially in our times, a person voluntarily closes his eyes so as not to see the True Light; voluntarily deviates into darkness as he lives by other interests, earthly and carnal. He is not interested in the Gospel teaching, the world of spiritual values is completely alien to him - he himself closes his eyes and plugs his ears so as not to see or hear.
But even for such a person, the doors of repentance and the path to the enlightenment of his lifeless soul are always open. He can always exclaim, together with the Holy Prophet King and Psalmist David: “Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” (Psalm 13:3).
Of course, one cannot help grieve seeing into what abyss of darkness the human race is rushing nowadays, but at the same time we will remember that all this is allowed by God not only as a punishment for sins, but also as a manifestation of Divine Love, so that a person can comprehend in what a darkness he wanders, realize this and choose to reach out to the True Light of Good, Love and Bliss. The Lord extends His hand to everyone, and everyone is free to accept It or not.
Therefore, beloved brothers and sisters, let us not be discouraged and embarrassed by the darkness and the Apostasy that is now spreading everywhere, but let us courageously and firmly adhere to our Orthodox faith and our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, fully relying on the mercy and help of God and remembering the Gospel words of our Savior: “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.”(John 12: 35-36). Amen.
Christ is Risen!
+ Archbishop Vladimir
Christ's Pascha, 2021