Fw: Serbian Patriarch Pavle - Easter Encyclical
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----- Original Message -----
From: ERPKIM Info Service
Sent: Saturday, April 30, 2005 12:38 PM
THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH TO HER SPIRITUAL CHILDREN AT PASCHA, 2005
P A V L E
By the grace of God
Orthodox Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Serbian Patriarch, with all the Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church-to all the clergy, monastics, and all the sons and daughters of our holy Church: grace, mercy and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, with the joyous paschal greeting:
CHRIST IS RISEN!
"Christ is risen, shaking the earth,
Removing sadness and bringing joy"
(Holy Bishop Nicholai)
With these words of the Holy Bishop Nicholai we announce the most joyous of all days - the day when life manifested itself to the world, when death was defeated, when the doors to Hades were destroyed, the all-joyous day the day of Resurrection. The resurrection is the greatest event in our human history, our Divine-human eternity. It is the day, which delivers us out of all the worldly days and nights of this life, and brings us into the day without evening, the eternal day of God's Kingdom. "Pascha is the Feast of all feasts and Celebration of all celebrations, which surpasses all other feasts and celebrations just as the sun surpasses the stars" (St. Gregory the Theologian).
In the light of the Resurrection we comprehend our entire life and rejoice in it. This day of the Resurrection is a day to rejoice in life and Life Eternal. We must witness to this world and to this time the joy which the Resurrection of Christ brings us today, for this is a Joy which no one else can ever give us, and which cannot be taken away.
It is exactly the absence of joy, or rather of meaningful joy, which torments contemporary man. The absence of joy comes from mankind's lack of understanding that death is not the final end. If death is truly our final end, after which there is nothing, or after which there is only some vague kind of life of the eternal soul, then man's life is a great tragedy, which begins at birth and with each day only comes closer to its "final end". This day of the Resurrection of Christ shows and testifies to us that it is not thus; this is why on this day we, filled with the light of the Resurrection, exclaim together with the Apostle Paul: "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" (I Cor. 15:55).
Truly, great and marvelous is the mystery of Christ's Resurrection and the saving gifts, which the risen Christ brings to the world and to mankind. In order for us to understand this mystery and rejoice at the Resurrection of Christ, we must understand the Biblical, living, divinely revealed truth which bears witness that God created the world out of nothing (Gen. 1:1). Neither the world, nor man, even though he is created in God's image and likeness as the crown and pearl of all of creation, have anything in and of themselves which would sustain them apart from God (Gen. 1:26; 2,17). This is why life is possible only in communion with God. With Adam's sin death entered into the world, and thus broke the communion with God (Gen. 3:19). The world that was created for eternity began to suffer and struggle, "for the wages of sin is death" (Rm. 6:23).
Therefore, the repentance of Adam and of all the Old Testament righteous men and women was insufficient, because repentance only ends the life lived in sin, but we needed more: we needed to be delivered out of the state of decay, ruin, disintegration and death (Rom. 8:22-23). As death entered through the body, so it was necessary that life enter through it, so that the body could be cleansed of decay and put on life. "I had a part in God's image, and did not retain it; and now He-Christ-partakes in my body to save the image of God within me, and make my body immortal," says St. Gregory the Theologian.
And so with His Incarnation Christ began the work of redemption; but the death of His Life-giving body was also necessary, since it was only through death that Resurrection was made possible (St. Athanasius the Great). The saving power of the death and Resurrection of Christ comes from the fact that He is the God-man, in whose Person are two unmingled, undivided, unchangeable, inseparable natures, fully Divine and fully human (as the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon confessed). The greatness of Christ's sacrifice and of His love are reflected precisely in the fact that the human nature which is assumed by the Person of God the Word is without sin, so Christ, being without sin, suffers and dies on the Cross voluntarily, freely, out of His love for mankind. Had He had sin, He would not have been able to die freely, but out of necessity: "for the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). With His entrance into Hades, He tramples on death and with His Resurrection He destroys the power of death.
After the Resurrection of Christ the reality of temporary death is not eradicated - man continues to die - but the Resurrection abolishes the inevitability of death. For, if someone dies in order to have a better life, then this is not death but a brief falling asleep and passage from death to life. The separation of the soul from the body is temporary. The assurance of this is Christ's Resurrection, according to the words of the Apostle Paul: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive" (I Cor. 15:22). For this reason we refer to Christ, the Crucified and Resurrected, as the New Adam in whom we all shall live (I Cor. 15:45). This is possible since through baptism we have put on Christ, with Him we die and are resurrected, while in the Holy Eucharist - in the Liturgy - in Holy Communion, we receive Christ into ourselves and we are taken into Christ for eternal life. In other words: in the Church we have received the gift of adoption and the guarantee of immortality; for this reason we call God "Father" in the Liturgy since we have been adopted through the Son who alone can call God "Father". So from this unity with Christ we grasp that Christ's victory over death is also our victory over death and the beginning of life eternal.
This profound truth was known by all righteous Christian men and women throughout the ages and to the present day. It was known and lived by the Jasenovac martyrs to whom we pray, and whom we especially remember on this 60th anniversary of the breakout of the surviving victims from the notorious death camp. It was only thanks to their faith that the hundreds of thousands of prisoners in Jasenovac - like St. Vukasin of Klepac - some of whom suffered as holy martyrs, found the strength to attempt to escape, barehanded, over the barbed wire surrounding the camp, knowing that they would live whether they passed over the wires or whether they remained within them. Thus, our faith in the Resurrection has deep meaning and justification. For this reason we prostrate ourselves before the Cross, venerating it, and crossing ourselves; for we know that the Resurrection comes through the Cross, the foundation of our faith according to the words of the Apostle Paul: "If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is also in vain" (I Cor. 15:14).
Our Kosovo today is a symbol of the Cross. However, our crucified brothers and sisters in Kosovo and Metohija, know that the Cross of Christ always leads to the Resurrection (Rom. 8:18). For this reason we firmly believe that the light of Christ's Resurrection will shine upon our brothers and sisters in Kosovo and Metohija. However, in order that we might feel that light and be made worthy of it in Kosovo and outside of Kosovo, in all the regions of the world, we must make peace with those - and there are many - who hate us. For the sake of the Resurrection of Christ we must forgive and make peace; for God - in whom we believe and whose Resurrection we glorify - is the God of peace, love and forgiveness. Just as He forgave those who crucified Him on the Cross, so too should we, together with our Crucified and Resurrected Lord, say out of the depths of our souls: "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do!" (Luke 23:34). But forgive us also, Lord, if we have behaved offensively. We call all of our Christ-loving people to this kind of a faith; once again, this faith is not a faith in death, as some have maliciously asserted. It is faith in eternal life, which begins here and now. For this reason we call upon all people, especially the young, that their lives may be anchored in Christ, in His Divine-human organism which is the Church. It is only in this way and in this place that they will find the peace and joy for which they yearn. We know that youth is the pleasantest but also the stormiest part of human life. Therefore, at no other time in our lives is freedom so subject to temptation. For this reason we call upon our youth not to sacrifice their freedom to the "murderous slavemasters" of drugs and alcohol, as well as debauched living which endangers the healthy preparation for the sanctity of marriage. Therefore, we call upon our youth to humble themselves before the sanctity and gravity of life, for life is not a party, and cannot be summed up by enjoyment alone. Life is a constant battle against all that which separates us from the Lord. It is one constant battle for "freedom from sin" and not "freedom for sin", which today is called "emancipation" or so-called "progress". The Christian life is a battle for good against evil and against the perversions we see in ourselves, in others, and in the communities to which we belong. We must never forget that evil is of short duration and only appears to shine and be successful. We should, therefore, never base anything, particularly our lives, on evil, wickedness, and falsehoods. Only if the Resurrected Lord is the anchor of our lives will we find the peace and joy for which everyone yearns. When the Apostle Philip told his friend Nathaniel that they had found the Messiah, Nathanial expressed his doubt; but the Apostle Philip called him saying: "Come and see" (John 1:45-46). We send this invitation to you, our spiritual children: Come and see. Come into our churches; take part in the Divine Liturgy, which is the living image of the future Kingdom of God, for taking part in the Divine Liturgy means to have a foretaste of the fruits of the Heavenly Kingdom here and now. Here we see that our Christian future depends neither on our difficult material conditions, nor on the mighty of this world; what is most important is this: in the Divine Liturgy we see that our life has meaning, that our future has meaning which is not limited only to this world and to this age, but which continues on into eternity.
In the name of that meaning and joy, our dear spiritual children, we call down upon you all the all-joyous light and power of the Resurrected God-man, our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us today and every day of our lives rejoice exceedingly, for Christ's Resurrection has dawned upon us. Rejoice, for death has been conquered! With your joy you bear witness to the joy of the Resurrection to all peoples and all nations, both Christian and non-Christian. Rejoice, for the joy of the Resurrection has been given to us. This joy will flow from us into the entire creation of God, upon which today we call the all-sanctifying power of the Resurrection, so that together with all of creation we may joyfully cry:
CHRIST IS RISEN!
INDEED HE IS RISEN!
Given at the Serbian Patriarchate in Belgrade, at Pascha, 2005.
Your intercessors before the Risen Lord:
Archbishop of Pec,
Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and
Serbian Patriarch PAVLE
Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana JOVAN
Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Coastlands AMPHILOHIJE
Metropolitan of Midwestern America CHRISTOPHER
Metropolitan of Dabro-Bosna NIKOLAJ
Bishop of Sabac-Valjevo LAVRENTIJE
Bishop of Nis IRINEJ
Bishop of Zvornik-Tuzla VASILIJE
Bishop of Srem VASILIJE
Bishop of Banja Luka JEFREM
Bishop of Budim LUKIJAN
Bishop of Canada GEORGIJE
Bishop of Banat NIKANOR
Bishop for America and Canada (New Gracanica Metropolitanate) LONGIN
Bishop of Eastern America MITROPHAN
Bishop of Zica CHRYSOSTOM
Bishop of Backa IRINEJ
Bishop of Great Britain and Scandinavia DOSITEJ
Bishop of Ras and Prizren ARTEMIJE
Retired Bishop of Zahumlje and Hercegovina ATANASIJE
Bishop of Bihac and Petrovac CHRYSOSTOM
Bishop of Osijek and Baranja LUKIJAN
Bishop of Central Europe CONSTANTINE
Bishop of Western Europe LUKA
Bishop of Timok JUSTIN
Bishop of Vranje PAHOMIJE
Bishop of Sumadija JOVAN
Bishop of Slavonia SAVA
Bishop of Branicevo IGNATIJE
Bishop of Milesevo FILARET
Bishop of Dalmatia FOTIJE
Bishop of Budimlje and Niksic JOANIKIJE
Bishop of Zahumlje and Hercegovina GRIGORIJE
Bishop of Australia and New Zealand (New Gracanica Metropolitanate) MILUTIN
Bishop of Gornji Karlovci GERASIM
Vicar Bishop of Hvostno ATANASIJE
Vicar Bishop of Jegar PORFIRIJE
Vicar Bishop of Lipljan TEODOSIJE
Vicar Bishop of Dioclea JOVAN
Vicar Bishop of Hum MAKSIM
The Orthodox Archdiocese of Ochrid
Metropolitan of Veles and Povardara JOVAN,
Patriarchal Exarch of the Autonomous Archdiocese of Ohrid
Bishop of Polos and Kumanovo JOAKIM
Bishop of Dremvic and locum tenens of the Diocese of Bitolj MARKO
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