Protocol 56/14

April 20, 2014

Holy Pascha

The Feast of Feasts

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 Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, 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,

Χριστός Ἀνέστη! Christ is Risen!  Truly He is Risen!

On this beautiful and glorious Feast of Feasts, our hearts and minds are filled with brilliant light and abundant joy in the presence of the Risen Christ.  He is in our midst now and forever, in all His holiness and glory, having offered Himself as a pure sacrifice for our sins.  He is before us and within us as the Victor over corruption and death, offering true and abundant life through His grace.  Our Lord embraces us on this day of exaltation and praise as our Redeemer, guiding us in the way of salvation and sanctifying us for eternal life.

Through faith we affirm that Christ is Risen and is among us, and we bear witness of His Resurrection and presence through our participation in the Holy Eucharist.  In this Great Mystery, the pure Body and precious Blood of the Risen Lord is offered for us and to us.  Through faith and our reception of the sacrament, we are joined with the One who lives!  This is the essential relationship of the Feast of Pascha and the Holy Eucharist, a relationship that is the foundation of our celebration of the Divine Liturgy throughout the year.

We sing in the hymns of this holy day, “Christ…of His own good will did sacrifice Himself for all, a Pascha of purification.”  This is a Pascha of purification because the One who was without sin gave Himself for us.  We give thanks, we celebrate a Holy Eucharist for His pure sacrifice, and through His pure Body and precious Blood we are purified.  Our souls and our bodies are cleansed by receiving the Risen Lord in the holiest of mysteries.

This day is also proclaimed as a Pascha of incorruption.  “ become man, and suffers as a mortal; and through suffering clothes mortality with the grace of incorruption.”  The fetters of death and corruption could not hold the power of grace and true life.  Through our Lord’s Crucifixion and Resurrection we are transfigured by Him and through Him from death to life.  Through our communion with Him and of Him, our body that was sown in corruption, dishonor, and weakness, is raised in incorruption, glory and power (I Corinthians 15:42-43).

With jubilation we also celebrate this day as a Pascha of redemption and salvation.  It is “an all-venerable Pascha, a Pascha that is Christ the Redeemer, a Pascha of the faithful, a Pascha that has opened unto us the gates of Paradise….”  It is the day of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, and it is the day of our resurrection from all that destroys unto all that transforms, renews, and sanctifies for all eternity.

In the Holy Eucharist we celebrate Christ’s absolute sacrifice and His superb victory as the ultimate reality.  We approach the sacred Body and Blood of the Risen Christ praying that His “divine, glorious, immaculate and life-creating Mysteries are received for purification and sanctification and as an earnest of the life and kingdom to come.” (Prayer of St. John of Damascus)  We proclaim today and through the Holy Mystery that today is the Day of Salvation, and as we receive Him in faith our Lord grants to us life everlasting and great mercy.

As we come together on this sacred day in our beautiful celebration of Holy Pascha, may our hearts be filled with joy, our minds at peace, and our souls renewed in the hope of His promises.  On this day and throughout the year, may we be renewed and strengthened in grace by receiving the Body and Blood of the Christ in the Holy Eucharist.  May I also wish to you and your families, a holy and glorious Pascha filled with the mercy and abundant blessings of Jesus Christ, the One who is risen from the dead, who has trampled down death, and who bestows life upon us all.

Χριστός Ἀνέστη! Christ is Risen!  Truly He is Risen!


With paternal love in the Risen Lord,

† D E M E T R I O S

Archbishop of America

Archive: Archbishop Demetrios' Encyclicals