THE PASCHAL EPISTLE OF THE PERMANENT CONFERENCE OF UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX BISHOPS BEYOND THE BORDERS OF UKRAINE FOR 2010
To the Reverend Clergy, the Diaconate in Christ, the Venerable Monastics and Faithful Laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Beyond the Borders of Ukraine and on their native soil.
Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen!
Dearly Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
We greet you on “this chosen and holy Day” (Canticle VIII Easter Kanon) of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Today our Holy Church joyfully heralds the unsurpassed event that by His death Christ conquered death and by having risen, “ Hades is led captive, Adam is recalled from the dead, the curse is made void, Eve is set free, Death is slain, and we have been endowed with life.” (Bohorodychnyj from Paschal Matins). She calls all to the Lord’s feast to taste the fruits of grace – “the calf is fatted; let no one go away hungry. Enjoy ye all the feast of faith; Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon hath shone forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death hath set us free.” (Catechetical Address of St. John Chrysostom).
Christ’s resurrection tore asunder the shackles of sin which chained us to the earth and gave our soul spiritual wings to fly to the heavens.
Spring has come to our soul which, resuscitated by God’s Grace and sustained by the Savior’s Holy Body and Holy Blood, begins the process of ripening in order to return to the Creator an abundant harvest of good deeds of mercy towards our neighbor – “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Mt.25:40)
A new life has begun in which we are called to make peace with one another. “Let us say: Brethren! And because of the Resurrection let us forgive all things to those who hate us”, (Paschal stykhyra in Tone 5) and together become, “...a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (IPeter2:9)
Christ said, “I am the Light of the world” (Jn.8:12), and we are children of the Light (Eph.5:8) and as such we have a responsibility to bring forth the fruits of the Light “for the fruit of Light is in all goodness, righteousness and truth...” (Eph.5:9)
Today, as in the past, humanity vacillates between darkness and the light. Throughout history Christ’s Church has known times of persecution, oppression and physical destruction but it has also known periods of rapid growth and development in its culture and theology, which sustained it for many centuries.
Today we see threatening advances against Christ’s Church in the form of neo-paganism, materialism, humanism, new age philosophies, pan-theism, and also from religious fanatics and fundamentalists. The most destructive threat for Christians, however, are the personal, sinful short-comings of Christians themselves – negligence, laziness, lack of desire to learn even the most elementary catechism of their faith, not to mention some higher theology, not adhering to the Church’s precepts about church attendance and partaking of the Holy Mysteries, the maintenance of fasts, rejection of decrees from the hierarchy which are given for the healing of our parishes and individual members, viewing the Church only as a vehicle for certain political aims and not as a means to eternal life. All of this together creates a very poor example for the young and maturing generations which are fleeing from the Church and faith. The Church is then compelled to educate each new generation from scratch.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, our Lord said that He would build His Church, “and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”(Mt.16:18). We, as co-creators and co-workers of the Lord, have an obligation to use all of our powers and resources for the growth and flowering of our Holy Church. Let us cherish the spiritual inheritance that leads us to salvation. May the Great Feast Day of Christ’s Resurrection be an incentive and an inspiration for a renewed and rejuvenated life in the Lord.
On the occasion of the Glorious Resurrection we, your hierarchs greet you, those in the Diaspora and our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and entreat for you God’s blessing for a new life full of faith in God, hope for a better tomorrow, and love amongst all of you. “Shine, shine, O New Jerusalem for the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” (Irmos of Canticle IX).
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the Diaspora;
Metropolitan – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
Archbishop – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Archbishop – Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the Diaspora
Archbishop – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
Archbishop – South American Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Bishop – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
Bishop – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
Bishop – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA