through the mercy of God
Archbishop of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the
To our beloved clergy and right-believing Christians,
peace and holy joy from Christ the Lord,
and from us hierarchical blessings.
Most Reverend Fathers,
Christ is risen!
On the morning of the Resurrection, following the reading of the Holy Gospel proclaiming the discovery of the empty tomb by the myrrh-bearing women and the angel’s explanation of the Lord’s rising from the dead, we sing the troparion Christ is risen from the dead.... We hear first the announcement of the historical event related by the first witnesses, the myrrh-bearers, and only then do we proclaim to one another the wonder of the Resurrection. The historical event takes on an eternal significance by means of this proclamation throughout the ages until the end of the world.
The Lord’s Resurrection is the feast of feasts and the holiday of holidays. We call this feast Holy Pascha, using the name of the Hebrew feast of Passover or Pesach, which means passing over. For the Jews, Passover meant the passage from Egyptian slavery to the freedom promised by God. This change was effected through an actual passing through the
The Savior’s Resurrection is also a passage; not simply a passage from one state of being to another, but one which shakes the very foundation of human nature, for it is the passage from death to life, as we witness in the songs from Resurrection Matins: Today is the Day of Resurrection! O nations, let us shine forth; for this Pascha is the Pascha of the Lord, in that Christ did make us pass from death to Life and from earth to heaven, who now sing the song of victory and triumph! Christ has taken us also from the bondage of sin to the freedom of being sons of God. Through His sacrifice on the Cross, Christ has gained our liberty, transporting us from earth to heaven. He set us free from the death of sin, which was the result of our alienation from God and our ignorance of His will, and he brought us into the life of communion with God which flows from the intimacy of being sons of God by grace. Christ descended into the deepest abyss of earth, into the darkness of death, in order to bring to the light those who awaited redemption, liberation from the bonds of hell, and eternal life. This is the first passage accomplished through the Resurrection of Christ: man’s passage from the death of ignorance and estrangement from God to the life which flows from communion with God.
The second sense of the Lord’s Resurrection as passage refers to the abolition of death as the failure of human existence, as the seal of sin, of man’s separation from God. Witnessing Christ’s Resurrection from the dead, we affirm that the death of the believer no longer means the end of earthly life, but passage from this life into one of more perfect communion with God. Earthly life is not terminated in the grave; the Christian does not pass into nonexistence as unbelievers say, but passes into another life. It is about this meaning given to death, as a passage, that the Church Fathers speak when they talk about the remembrance of death as a call to mindfulness and to keeping God’s commandments. St. Anthony the Great says, Death, if one keeps it in mind, is immortality; but to not keep it in mind is death.
But there is yet another sense of the Lord’s Resurrection as passage.
Through the Resurrection, Christ gives us the opportunity to attain immortality, eternal life. Through baptism, each of us receives this gift. The entirety of Christian living has as its purpose the cultivation of this gift. The gift of the Resurrection works a gradual change, a progressive passage of the Christian from death to life. The passage will be completed, in the words of
The year 2009 is an anniversary year, for 80 years have passed since the founding of the Orthodox Episcopate for Romanians in
May Christ the Lord grant you the light of His Resurrection together with His peace and the joy of proclaiming to the world the triumph of life over death!
With a brotherly embrace in Christ the Risen Lord, I wish you Happy Holidays!
Christ is risen!
Your brother in prayer before God,