PASTORAL LETTER ON THE FEAST OF THE LORD’S RESURRECTION 2008
† N I C O L A E
by the Grace of God
Archbishop of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the
To our Beloved Clergy and Right-Believing Christians,
Peace and Holy Joy from our Lord Jesus Christ,
And from us Hierarchal Blessings.
Most Reverend Fathers,
Christ is Risen!
Every year we proclaim to one another that through the Resurrection of Christ death has been conquered, repeating the words of the Myrhhbearers, who were the first to tell the Apostles that they had found the Lord’s tomb empty, and that the One they had laid in the tomb two days earlier had risen. And we also rejoice at this time to receive the greeting of the Risen Christ: Peace be with you all!
The peace which the Lord brings them refers in the first place to man’s reconciliation with God. Adam, who had refused God’s love and communion with Him, was troubled in his soul because he had lost the reason for his existence. Created in the image of God and being destined to bear the likeness of his Creator, the first man could not find the meaning of life apart from his relationship with God. Therefore, he could not be at peace. Adam lost at the same time the love of God and the peace of his own soul. And from Adam on, the tragedy of separation from God is experienced by every human being first of all as a lack of inner reconciliation in his own soul. The Blessed Augustine expresses this condition of mankind very well through the words, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
Christ came to restore man’s communion with God and to bring back peace to man’s soul. Speaking to the Christians in
The prophet’s words are fulfilled in Christ. Christ brought peace among men and with God through His sacrifice on the Cross. That which had been enmity, because it had created a separation between man and God, was done away with on the Cross through Christ’s sacrificial self-offering. The result of Adam’s pride and disobedience was separation from God; the result of the humility of the God-Man, and His obedience unto death “—even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8), was reconciliation with God. All that had been separated from God, the entire creation which had suffered because of the sin of Adam, was brought back, through the sacrifice of Christ, to God the Father, reconciled and redeemed from death. St. Cyril of
The peace which Christ brings is thus the peace of man’s reconciliation with God, the peace of victory over sin through the sacrifice on the Cross. This victory, and the power which comes from it, is given to the Apostles: “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.’ And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven’” (John 20:21-23). Through this, Christ shows us that the peace in our souls is also the sign of our reconciliation with God through the forgiveness of sins by the power of the Holy Spirit.
To us as well Christ gives His joy-bringing peace. Like the Apostles then, when we receive the peace of Christ we find reconciliation in our own souls, and we show ourselves ready to receive the Risen Christ in the Mystery of Holy Communion. Then we witness that we have found “the Heavenly Spirit, we have found the truth faith”, the witnessing faith of the Lord’s Resurrection. Like the Apostles, our meeting with the Risen Christ transforms us from disciples with little faith and understanding into witnesses of the Risen Lord, Who tore down the dividing wall and brought us peace.
My challenge at this glorious feast is that we ask the Risen Christ to grant us His joy-giving peace, peace in our souls and the peace of reconciliation with our neighbor; that He grant us our heart’s desire, reconciliation with our brothers from the other Romanian Diocese in North America, that together we might witness to the Orthodox Faith which is based on the Lord’s Resurrection. This year, 2008, is an anniversary year, for it is 125 years since the birth, and 50 years since the passing into eternity of the first Romanian bishop in
May Christ the Lord grant you His peace and the joy the Apostles had when they met the Risen Christ! May this peace and joy dwell among us all, in our families and in our parishes!
I give you a brotherly embrace in Christ the Risen Lord, and I wish you all Joyous Holidays!
Christ is risen!
Your Brother in Prayer Toward God,
Chicago, the Feast of the Lord’s Resurrection, 2008