Holy Pascha 2005
The Feast of Feasts
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you…. I Peter 1:3-4
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 in Christ,
On this, the great and glorious feast of Pascha, I greet you with our cherished and joyful Paschal greeting, Hristos Anesti! Christ is Risen!
As we have reached the end of our blessed Lenten journey and have opened our hearts to receive the light and life of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are called once again by the divine worship and commemorations of the Holy Orthodox Church to contemplate the significance of Pascha for our lives. The celebration of the Resurrection of Christ is not only an annual observance marked by special services, family gatherings, and feasting. As the people of God, we continuously commemorate this day each and every moment of our lives through the presence of the Risen Lord within us.
Through the weeks of the Holy Lenten season, we have lived in anticipation of this feast of joy and light. In fasting and prayer we have prepared ourselves to receive our Lord and glorify His third-day Resurrection. Now that this glorious day has come, we embrace it with every part of our being, revealing through our expressions, words, and innermost thoughts and prayers our immersion into the life given to us by Christ.
Above all other things, the Feast of Pascha affirms that the Risen Lord is in our midst. Each and every day, through all the joys and trials of this life, He is with us. His divine and life-giving presence brings us peace in the midst of personal, familial, and global conflicts; the Risen Christ offers us strength and assurance in our time of suffering and physical need; but most importantly, through His great mercy, He gives us hope. In the words of the Apostle Peter, "By His great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (I Peter 1:3).
Through His mercy revealed to us on the Cross, we have been offered a new manner of living. By His Resurrection we have been shown the way of rebirth, renewal, and restoration to the true and eternal life that God created us to live. By receiving Christ into our lives through the Holy Sacraments of the Church and through our daily commitment to His divine will, we are given an unfading hope of glory, of the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God, of a new heaven and a new earth that is completely filled with the life and light of our Lord.
This hope that springs from the presence of the Risen Christ within us directs us to live each and every day preparing to receive "an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading" (I Peter 1:4). This was the way our beloved former Archbishop Iakovos lived his blessed life on earth before leaving us on April 10 to be forever with Christ in heaven. He left us a strong message that our life here and now is a journey toward heaven. We have been given this time to be reborn in the image of the Life-Giver, to live each day in faith, and to anticipate the fulfillment of all things and the great and glorious return of our Savior. Just as we have prepared ourselves to receive the Paschal light and affirm in joy and hymns the essence of our faith, we must use each day of our lives to prepare to receive our loving Lord, the King of glory.
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I ask you on this sacred feast to open your hearts to the presence of the Risen Christ in our midst. May our joyous celebration of Pascha lift us above the struggles of life and restore our spiritual vision of the Kingdom of God. From this day forward, may we continue together in the journey of life, preparing ourselves for that day when we will put on immortality and enter into a blessed and eternal communion with God.
With my warmest Paschal wishes
And love in the Risen Christ,
Archbishop of America