Encyclical of H.E. Met.NEKTARIOS of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia for Holy Pascha
HOLY AND GREAT PASCHA 2010
of His Eminence Metropolitan NEKTARIOS
of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
for Holy Pascha
To the Reverend Priests and Deacons, Monks and Nuns,
the Members of the Parishes of the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and
Southeast Asia and the entire Orthodox Family in Southeast Asia.
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, From all my heart I greet you on the greatest of all of the Feasts the day of the radiant Resurrection of Christ with the eternal, and never-ceasing joyous words: Christ is Risen!
The Resurrection of Christ is the greatest event in history and also is the fundamental truth and absolute fact of the Christian faith. It is the central experience and essential sermon of the Church. It is what distinguishes Christianity from every other religion. The other religions have mortal leaders, while the head of the Church is the risen Jesus Christ. The Resurrection of Christ is the renewal of human nature and the recreation of the human race. Christ, risen from the dead, cracked the fortress of death and took "captivity captive" (Ps 67:17). All the limitations of our createdness are torn asunder. Death is swallowed up in victory and life is liberated. "For as by a man came death, by a man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:21-22). Pascha is the dawn of the new and unending day of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! The Resurrection of Christ bestows illumination, energizes souls, brings forgiveness, transfigures lives, creates saints and gives eternal joy.
We can share in and experience the resurrection of Christ in two ways. First, it is the source for the continual mystical and spiritual regeneration of our dead souls. Second, it is the cause of our resurrection from the dead on the Last Day.
The miracle of Pascha and the consequences of Christ's resurrection, the gift of eternity and plenitude, are always accessible to everyone. But we have to emphasize the truth that salvation is accomplished only in perfect freedom, through an act of faith. No one can be compelled to believe in or to love God. To receive the grace of the Paschal mystery and to keep it operative in us we must want to engage ourselves actively and creatively in the godly life by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We express our will to join the risen Christ if we decide to follow in our lives the spiritual struggle of repentance. We have to choose to leave our love united to the life of the ]lesh whose end is death and corruption. We have to crucify our love for the ]lesh to the Cross of Christ. On Holy Thursday and on Great Friday we heard that our Lord Jesus Christ "in His surpassing love showed us the most excellent way of humility." and "He is who endured spitting and scourging and blows, the Cross and death, for the salvation of the world.". So, if we want to find salvation and to unite ourselves to risen Christ, we have to walk on the path of humility, sufferings, and repentance.
However, we often forget that salvation does not come as a result of individualistic piety, but through a living and dynamic relationship with the Church. As baptized devout members of the Church we become part of a community which is moving together towards the Kingdom of God. It is this community which affirms and defines our Christian identity. In and through the Church we appropriate the transforming power of the death and resurrection of Christ, which places upon us the obligation to actualize the renunciations demanded of us by the Gospel in our everyday activities.
The fruits of Christ's saving death and resurrection are granted to us and are accomplished especially through the sacraments. Through them the new life is extended and given to the members of His body, the Church. The sacraments prepare the faithful for the resurrectional life and simultaneously make that life a living reality in this present age. Through them Christ calls us to share intimately in what is divine: immortality and incorruptibility. He sends and grants us the Holy Spirit, who continually vivifies our souls and actualizes within us the hidden mysteries of God's kingdom, joining us to God in a personal union.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On this joyful day of Pascha, rejoice in the risen Lord! Bear with spiritual joy the lighted Paschal Candles and with your devout lives "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
From my heart I pray that the Risen Lord bless you all, and generously bestow on you the life-giving Light of His grace.
With my warmest Paschal wishes and love in the Risen Christ,
+ Nektarios Metropolitan of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
Note: To be read during the Paschal Service on Holy and Great Saturday night.
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