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Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Monday, April 28, 2008

Paschal Epistle of Metropolitan Volodymyr of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Easter Epistle of Metropolitan Volodymyr to Archpastors, Pastors, Monkhood and All Faithful of Ukrainian Orthodox Church:

Christ is risen!

"Come all you faithful Let us venerate Christ's holy Resurrection"

From Orthodox Easter Service

With these inspiring words our Holy Mother Church calls those of us, who won through the way of the Great Lent by the grace of God, to taste the joy of the most luminous and joyous feast of Resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

"Easter Sunday", as blessed Hesychius of Jerusalem said, "is a blessing of joy, since the Lord is risen... Today, due to the Resurrected Christ the paradise is open; man finds salvation and Christ is given worship, since He, having defied the death, ascended heavens as Victorious King, as Master of Glory...".

"But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world", said the Resurrected Saviour to His disciples (John 16: 33). Being moved by the greatest and infinite love to His creation, the Son of God descended to the Earth, became flesh, assumed the sins of the world, suffered death on the Cross for us and our sins, and "was raised again for our justification" (Romans 4: 25). The Lord Resurrected became the new ancestor of all people, the new Adam of the redeemed humanity.

Resurrection of Christ marked the triumph of life over death. Each of us has obtained a possibility of personal resurrection in Christ as the true God, Saviour and the Lord. That is the victory of Christ over death. In the light of the Resurrection of Christ the death of man is not the cessation of being, not the traceless disappearance from the world, it is transition to a different condition. This is the joyous certitude of the eternal life in Christ and with Christ that the Resurrection of Christ gives us (John 3: 16). The God-inspired words of the Holy Hierarch John Chrysostom sound especially powerful for us: "Is it possible that the one who fully adopts the idea of Resurrection is afraid of death, is frightened by anything else?"

Our task is to accept with all our hearts the One Who came to save us. Our vocation is to be worthy of the great merciful deed of our Lord - deliverance of the human race. Today we pray that our hearts open to receive the light of Gospel, the light of our Lord Jesus Christ Resurrected.

The lightsome feast of Resurrection of Christ is a feast of reconciliation and unification of all of us in our Lord and Saviour. The appeal of Apostle Paul is addressed to us: "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4: 31-32). It is with sorrow and pain in our hearts that we raise our special prayers for our brothers and sisters staying outside the salutary church unity and therefore being unable to feel the fullness of the Easter joy, so that the grace of the Lord Resurrected who reconciled the Heavens and the earth becomes the source of peace, sincere mutual understanding, toleration, true brotherhood, creativity and unification. It is my strong conviction that our society and our God-loving nation need that all of us witness in unity and consent that Christ is risen indeed!

Dearly beloved! Let's not forget that attending the Orthodox temples in these Holy days, taking part in feasts and divine services, we bring to the Christ Resurrected our gift of love, bring our joy of resurrection and compassion to the Passions of Christ, we bring Him our worship as to our King and God. As it the divine service of the Holy Easter goes, "Yesterday, O Christ, I was buried with Thee, and today I arise with thy arising. Yesterday I was crucified with Thee. Glorify me, O Saviour, with Thee in Thy Kingdom" (the Easter Vigil). But we must keep in mind that all our gifts will be worthless if we do not become everything to Christ. It means that we are to have a living faith in Him, in His resurrection, live in adherence to His doctrine, kept and taught by the Holy Orthodox Church, keep strictly to God's will, perform ardently our everyday duties, work selflessly for the benefit of our neighbours, bring the contribution of prayer and acts of mercy, carry one's cross, given by the Lord, with patience, humbleness and devotion to the God's Providence.

In our hard and responsible time there are plenty of possibilities for the Orthodox testimony - in hospitals, prisons, houses for aged and other places where our help is necessary. But the acts of mercy, made in the glory of God and for deliverance of people will be a success only when we fully represent the Disciples of Christ. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John13: 35).

Unfortunately, our Easter joy is saddened by the secular moods that enter the church life. The discord between clergy and people imposed from outside is not a normal phenomenon in the life of the Church. The distemper and distrust which they bring about fill our heart with sorrow. We plead you not to yield the influence of the non-Orthodox forces in order not to step on the slippery and invariably false slope. We are anxious to remind you of the great sin made by those introducing the spirit of dissent into the Church, which is the Body of Christ indivisible into parts - "Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1: 23). We remind you that in the Church of Christ "God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teacher..." (1 Corinthians 12: 28). Not all are apostles, not all are prophets, not all are teachers. "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will", says Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 12: 11).

In these luminous days of Pascha we as "the children of resurrection" (Luke 20: 36) together with Apostle Paul witness that we know the One in Whom we believed - in "our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1: 10). Let the Lord in Whom we believe and to Whom we trust teach us what the Christians are obliged to do for the glory of His sacred name and what to abstain from in order that our mind gets enlighten with the Easter light of Resurrection.

Dearly beloved in Christ most reverend Archpastors, pastors, honourable monkhood, brothers and sisters! I heartily congratulate you on the great and luminous feast of Resurrection of Christ! Let our Lord Jesus Christ, having shined in three days from the Life-giving tomb, the source of life and immortality, bestow upon you His great and abundant mercies and let He consider you worthy to praise His glorious and salutary Resurrection from all your pure hearts. Amen.

Christ is risen!
Indeed Christ is risen!

Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine,
Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Easter of Christ
year 2008



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