From His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia
to archpastors, pastors, the monastics and all children
of the Russian Orthodox Church
Let the heavens worthily rejoice,
let earth too be exultant,
let the whole world and all things visible and invisible celebrate:
for Christ has risen, and there is eternal joy! The Paschal Canon
in the Risen Lord Your Graces the archpastors, esteemed pastors,
honourable monks and nuns, pious laity - beloved children all of
our Holy Mother Church! As my whole heart rejoices and is exultant,
I congratulate you on the great and saving feast of Christ's Resurrection.
Rejoice, my dear
ones, for now has come upon us the all-joyful day of the Lord's
Passover, the 'Feast of Feast and Triumph of Triumphs', and again
the Lord grants us through the grace of the Holy Spirit to see the
Risen God-man Jesus Christ, Who has destroyed hell, and trampled
down death in obeying the will of the Heavenly Father; He has redeemed
the sin of Adam's disobedience 'even unto death, death on the cross'.
Human nature, corrupted by and inclined towards sin and in sin deprived
of its divine likeness has been renewed in Christ, has been risen
with Him and has ascended with Him to the altar of the Heavenly
Father, having revealed in all its fullness the original beauty
of God's beloved creature.
We too are called
upon to participate in this glory, this light-bearing transfiguration
of eternal joy in the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ the Saviour. Christ
the Saviour has opened His gates for us, He calls us all and grants
to all joy here on earth, the joy of regeneration in the fount of
Holy Baptism and the joy of being sacramentally and inextricably
united to Him in Holy Communion.
This grace, which
saves and heals and is given to us in Christ's Resurrection, is
especially felt on this holy day. Therefore our soul is exultant
and it is with such great joy that our churches resound with hymns
in honour of the Victor of death. In being the fount of eternal
life, He wanted to grant to us the joy of the Paschal encounter
with Him - a joy which nobody can take away from us (Jn 16:22),
for it is within us in the very depths of the Christian soul which
has encountered the Risen Lord.
Our faith has been
built up through this joy. It is this joy which transfigured the
simple fishermen, timid and unsure in their expectation, into apostles
of Christ who fearlessly preached the Risen One throughout the entire
face of the earth and confirmed their faith in Him through their
martyr's death. It was this joy that shone on the faces of the martyrs
for Christ who followed Him in suffering and death. It was this
joy that led into the wilderness successful and wealthy people and
turned them into great heroes of the spirit, attaining here in their
earthly life the divine image and likeness with which God honoured
the human person when He created him.
St. Seraphim of
Sarov, a saint of God ardently loved by the Orthodox people, whose
one hundred year anniversary of his glorification we celebrate this
year, greeted each person who came to him with the words 'My joy!
Christ is risen!' The radiant joy of Pascha had filled his soul
and was poured forth in abundance upon the world. The eternal Passover
made of him a temple of the Living God.
My dear ones! God
grants to us too this joy. And if it fills our souls, if we do not
allow the vanities of everyday life to extinguish its saving light,
then all the cares and worries of our complicated and difficult
life will fade at the life-giving radiance of Christ's Passover
which 'opens the gates of paradise to us'. Preserve this sacred
joy, bring it to people, share it in abundance with those who have
never encountered the Risen Lord in their lives, those who do not
yet know that 'God is love' and that His kingdom is the kingdom
of joy and light.
My beloved! In all
difficulties and everyday trials let us recall the apostle's words:
'Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks;
for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ for you' (1 Thess 5:16-18).
Let us always remind ourselves of this as each day we pray ardently
for our neighbours and the whole world.
The Holy Church
preaches and builds up peace - peace in our souls and families,
peace in each land and throughout the face of the earth. The striving
for peace and accord is one of the most important missions of the
Church in her relations with the secular authorities, politicians,
civil associations and people of other confessions and religions.
Yes, many peoples are today divided. In various regions of thew
world blood is being shed, peaceful civilians are dying, enmity
does not abate. Violence, hatred and other sins are being imposed
upon society through a pseudo-culture. Many of our fellow citizens
as before suffer from poverty, deprivation and crime. Is it possible
to bring peace in such conditions? It is, if we recall that peace
among people begins with peace in our hearts. In turning towards
Christ and entrusting our whole lives to Him, we become genuine
peacemakers. The Church reminds us of this and offers to each people
the way of creative moral transformation, the way towards perfection
and peace - the way of Christ. I call upon every person to follow
this way - both old and young, rich and poor, learned and simple,
all those invested with authority and those who are not.
My dear brothers
and fellow bishops, all-honourable fathers, brothers and sisters,
again and again with fervent joy I greet you on the light-bearing
feast of Christ's Passover and with the apostles I say: 'Rejoice,
be complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace;
and the God of love and peace will be with you' (2 Cor 13:11).
Christ is risen! Truly
He is risen!
Moscow anl all Russia
Pascha 2003 AD