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1999 Paschal Encyclical of Archbishop Spyridon

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Apr 14, 1999



NOTE: This News Item May Refer to Outdated Information.  Please see the Online Chapel for current Information.

Protocol Number 38/99

Pascha 1999

To the Reverend Clergy, the Monks and Nuns, the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Greek Day and Afternoon Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Greek Organizations and Societies, the Youth, and all devout Christians of the Holy Archdiocese of America

&qout;When they who were with Mary came, anticipating the dawn, and found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre, they heard from the Angel: Why seek ye among the dead, as though He were mortal man, Him Who abideth in everlasting light? Behold the grave-clothes. Go quickly and proclaim to the world that the Lord is risen, and hath put death to death. For He is the Son of God, Who saveth the race of man (Hypakoë of the Sunday of Pascha).

Beloved Spiritual Children in Christ,

Christ is Risen!

At our midnight Paschal vigil we gather as one family seeking the dawning of a new day. We gather as friends and neighbors, as parishes and communities, as young men and women, as mature adults and children. We gather as beloved brothers and sisters, as the dear children of God. In the depths of the night we come together, as did the Myrrh-bearing women so many centuries ago. Together we seek the place where our Lord can be found. And like the Holy Myrrh-Bearers of old, we ask ourselves this question:

"Who will roll away the stone for us?"

The Lord Jesus Christ had no need for the stone to be rolled away from the mouth of His tomb. He Who controlled the wind and the waves (cf. Mark 4:37), He Who could enter the upper room of the disciples though the doors were shut (John 20:19), He Who could not be held even by the bonds of death (cf. Acts 2:24) He surely had no need for the stone to be removed.

Rather, the tomb lies open for our sake. The stone was rolled away so that we could enter the place where His Spotless Body was laid out, where we could enter and behold the vacant crypt and the folded grave-clothes. The door of the tomb was opened so that we could see for ourselves the Truth of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Even today, though we live in a time and place many miles and many centuries removed from that blessed Sunday morning so long ago we also desire to behold the evidence of our Saviour's triumph over death.

"Who will roll away the stone for us?"

We live in an age of cynicism and despair, an age in which the sway of philosophical and moral materialism has spread across the globe. We live in a time of deep uncertainty and insecurity, a time when the power of mass destruction rests in the hands of so many aggressors. We live in an era of spiritual apathy, when the traditional expressions of faith and piety are perceived as unhealthy and even dangerous, an era when humanity yearns to hear novel things from self-appointed teachers of so-called wisdom (cf. II Tim. 4:3, I Tim. 6:20). We live in a culture of death, a society in which abortion and euthanasia are dignified with the name of "rights" and those who oppose the taking of innocent lives are deemed intolerant and unjust. We live in an atmosphere of doubt and distrust, of self-love and self-interest.

"Who will roll away the stone for us?"

Who will show us the way to a higher life, the way to a transcendent mode of existence? Who will show us the triumph of love and life? Who will lead us in the way of true joy and lasting happiness? Who will display for us the tokens of the Resurrection, the incontrovertible proofs of the unconditional love of God, the unimpeachable evidence of eternal life, which will inspire us and embolden us to traverse the path of repentance, renunciation, and self-sacrifice.

&qout;Who will roll away the stone for us?&qout;

It was the holy angels, the messengers of the Lord's Resurrection, who removed the stone on that glorious Pascha morning so many years ago. We also have angels today, messengers of God who remove from our hearts the stones of doubt, of fear, and of egotism. These angels, together with the saints, open the way for our minds and spirits and bodies, so that we too may experience for ourselves the power and glory of the Resurrection. We have our beloved communities, the many people around us in the Church who, through loving relationships and the witness of their life proclaim the Resurrection, the new life in Christ our parents and priests, grandmothers and grandfathers, godparents and teachers, and the many other men and women who have shown the way of love and forgiveness.

Through their ministry to us, we enter into the place where the angels beckon. It is in the empty tomb, where our fears are allayed, our doubts are vanquished, our faith is strengthened, and our joy is fulfilled. Forgiven by Christ, we find the power to forgive. Loved by Christ, we find the power to love. For when the stone has been rolled away from our hearts, then we find the proof of Christ's Resurrection, in the life that He lives in us (cf. Gal. 2:20). Let us give thanks from hearts full of joy and gratitude, for all in the Church who have ministered to us faithfully in love. Let us give thanks for one another, embracing one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, our immortal King and God.

"Christ is risen from the dead, by death destroying death; and to those in the tombs bestowing life!"

Truly the Lord is Risen!

With paternal blessings in Christ,


Archbishop of America

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