The Feast of Feasts
We celebrate the death of death,
The destruction of Hades,
The beginning of everlasting life.
And with leaps of joy we praise the Cause thereof,
The only blessed and most glorious God of our Fathers.
(Troparia of Ode Seven of the Canon of Pascha)
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters,
Christos Anesti, Christ is Risen!
On this holiest of days, the most sacred of Feasts, we gather together as the Church, united by the presence of the Risen Lord in our midst and in celebration of His triumphant victory over death. In unison we sing the glorious hymns of the Resurrection, and we raise our voices joyously proclaiming, “Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life!”
Through the death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the power of death and sin has been broken, and through the grace of God eternal life has been offered to all. The death and Resurrection of Christ abolished our enslavement to sin, our separation from the love of God and eternal communion with Him, and any hindrance from obtaining the fullness of life offered to us by our Creator. "For God has given us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord" (I Corinthians 15:57).
As Orthodox Christians we are blessed with a beautiful Paschal tradition, by which we properly celebrate the triumph over evil, sin, and death. We observe the Feast of Feasts in all the splendor and glory that it is due. Our churches are resplendent with light, and hymns of exuberant joy flow from our hearts and our lips. In renewed faith and hope we pray the Paschal Liturgy; we receive the Life-giving Body and Blood of Christ; and we exchange jubilant greetings as we seek to bring honor and glory to God for what has been accomplished through Christ.
In the midst of our joy, however, we must acknowledge that the celebratory ethos of Pascha stands in marked contrast with the “culture of celebration” found in our modern world. While we celebrate the true and enduring life that overcomes sin and death, we live in a world that often uses “celebrations” in order to escape the realities and struggles of life; “celebrations” that offer superficial pleasure instead of joy, and a passing, if not sinful, excitement instead of godly paschal jubilation.
This is why our celebration of the great and glorious Resurrection of our Lord must radiate truth and life to the ends of the earth. As the Church, we are called to shine on this day, "for the glory of the Lord has risen upon us" (Isaiah 60:1). Yes, our observance of Pascha is a joyful commemoration of the victory of Christ, but it is also our witness to the world of the power of the Resurrection to transform lives and to save souls. All of humanity must see among us the cause of true celebration. Through our worship and prayer, peoples of all nations must hear us acknowledge Jesus Christ as both King and Lord of all that is seen and unseen. Through our jubilant testimony, they must be offered the invitation to partake of new life in Him, and they should see in our continued witness and ministry throughout the year a joy that is not sustained by the pleasures and amusements of this world but by the presence of our Risen Lord.
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this holy Feast of Pascha, I exhort you to raise high your voices and candles so that the glory of the Resurrection may radiate from the Church, from each of our parishes, and from our hearts. Through our jubilant commemoration of Pascha, may we offer to others a genuine witness of Christ’s victory over death, so that they too may share in the joy of the Resurrection of our Lord and proclaim in faith, “Christ is Risen. Truly the Lord is Risen!”
With my warmest Paschal wishes
And love in the Risen Christ,
Archbishop of America