Paschal Encyclical 2013

Protocol no. γ – 1741

RESURRECTION MESSAGE

Year of salvation 2013

To the children of the Church Throughout the world:

This chosen and holy day is the first of the sabbaths, the queen and lady, the feast of feasts, and festival of festivals, wherein we bless Christ unto the ages.

Much-beloved children in the Lord,

The feast of the Resurrection of Christ is the most radiant of feasts for the Greek people and for all Orthodox Christians everywhere. For this reason it is called “brilliant” by the people, the Feast of feasts and Festival of festivals, even as we chant in church.

One striking aspect of our celebration of this supreme feast of Orthodoxy here in Greece is the following: During the days of Great Week the large cities empty out their people. As the Jews left the land of Egypt en masse, so the Greeks leave Athens and Thessalonica and return en masse to the villages, the places of their ancestry.

Having settled in the Promised Land, the ancient Jews flocked every year to Jerusalem for their feast of Passover. Now the Greeks flock to the villages to celebrate Pascha with their relatives according to tradition and custom. Thus in former times the faithful were drawn to the center, whereas now they are drawn to the periphery.

This phenomenon of annual exodus or return is good; only, let it be “not a mere change of place,” as we chant in the Service of the Salutations to the Theotokos, but a change in manner of life. Because a change of place is something indifferent from a spiritual point of view, if it does not involve a change of the soul. But a return or a turning to the genuine traditions of Orthodoxy is truly salutary and saving, not only for the Greeks, but for everyone who desires to call himself an Orthodox Christian. Yes, may we experience an exodus, but not so much from the large cities, as from the Babylonian Captivity of the passions and the tumult of sin. Let us return, but not so much to the places of our ancestry as to the ancestral traditions of the Faith.

The desire of the Christians to celebrate the Feast of Pascha with their family members is good, but even better is to celebrate together with one’s fellow men who are in need. Economic crisis has multiplied the needy here in Greece. For many the fast will, of necessity, continue even after Pascha. Poverty has imposed upon many continuous fasting. Yet some of us, not having fasted during the Fast, will gorge ourselves yet again at Paschal celebrations. What does it mean to break the Fast if we did not fast in the first place? Pascha becomes nothing more than another occasion for eating, drinking, and entertaining oneself. But may our abundance instead be used to provide what others lack.

Holy Pascha is primarily a spiritual feast, an occasion of spiritual joy and resurrection. They who are truly disciples and followers of Christ celebrate their own personal resurrection: the resurrection of the soul. As the resurrection of the body occurs when it is re-united with the soul, so the resurrection of the soul occurs when it is united with the Grace of the Holy Spirit: “The Resurrection of the soul is the union of life, because just as a corpse is not referred to as alive nor can it live, unless it accepts a life-giving soul within it and unites with it, so the soul cannot live of itself, if it is not united mystically with the Grace of God, which is truly eternal life.” (St. Symeon the New Theologian)

May we all experience the spiritual joy of this Resurrection and with leaps of joy cry:

“This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad therein.”

THE HOLY SYNOD

The Archbishop

† KALLINIKOS of Athens

The Members

† AKAKIOS of Attica and Diauleia

† MAXIMOS of Thessalonica and Demetrias

† ATHANASIOS of Larisa and Platamon

† JUSTIN of Euripus and Euboea

† PAVLOS of America

† GERONTIOS of Piraeus and Salamis

† CHRYSOSTOMOS of Attica and Boeotia

† MOSES of Toronto

† GREGORY of Christianoupolis

† PHOTIOS of Marathon

† THEODOSIOS of Bresthena

† SERGIOS of Portland

† DEMETRIUS of Boston

† CHRISTODOULOS of Theoupolis

Translated from the Greek

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