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Paschal Epistle for the Year 1922 by His Beatitude, the Most Blessed

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    Paschal Epistle for the Year 1922 by His Beatitude, the Most Blessed Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky) Christ is risen! Brethren, Russians and all Orthodox
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2003
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      Paschal Epistle
      for the Year 1922

      by His Beatitude, the Most Blessed
      Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky)

      Christ is risen!

      Brethren, Russians and all Orthodox Christians, beloved in Christ!

      The grace-filled day of the resurrection of Christ has arrived, when
      our faith is strengthened, hope increases, and holy love shines forth.
      On this day, even the wicked become good, the envious joyful, the
      despondent are comforted. And those who before were firm believers and
      lovers of their brethren are today filled with compunctionate ecstasy,
      and desire to embrace the whole world, and greet even those whom
      yesterday they considered their enemies.

      And so we chant in church "It is the day of the Resurrection! Let us
      adorn ourselves with the splendor of the festival and embrace one
      another! And let us say, O brethren, even unto those who hate us: 'Let
      us forgive all things at the Resurrection, and thus let us cry out:
      Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon
      those in the tombs bestowing life!'"
      Note, beloved brethren, that such grace-filled joy on the day of Holy
      Pascha, such a spiritual gift, is given by God only to Orthodox
      Christians. Other faiths, even those whose followers also call
      themselves Christians (for example, the Roman Catholics, the Greek
      Catholics, the Protestants), although they also observe the feast of
      the resurrection of Christ, experience nothing similar, but celebrate
      it the way they do all their other feasts.

      Only the Russians and the other Orthodox Christians are filled with
      grace-bearing joy, love and universal forgiveness on this holy and
      great day, and in this you may see the rightness of our Faith, the
      Truth of our Church.

      When, fifty or a hundred years before Saint Vladimir, there came to
      Kiev from Constantinople an Orthodox preacher, who demonstrated to the
      people the holiness of the Gospel, our pagan ancestors said to him: "We
      feel in our hearts that thou speakest the truth; but if this book is
      from God, cast it into the fire: if it doth not burn, we will be fully
      convinced by thy preaching and will accept baptism." Having prayed, the
      preacher threw the Holy Gospel into the fire, and it remained unharmed:
      even the ribbons set in it did not burn.

      And now also, if they ask us what proof you can offer for the
      superiority and genuineness of the Orthodox Faith, answer those who
      ask: Go to our church on Holy Pascha night, when Christ's victory over
      the falsehood of Judaism, over the death to which we were condemned for
      the sin of our forefather Adam and for our own sins, is glorified; come
      hear the paschal singing; come look at the faces of those who pray, and
      you will perceive in them a reflection of the grace of Christ, you will
      see what a manifest gift of grace is instilled in the hearts of the
      faithful, how on this day their souls are purified of sins, and how the
      words of the catechetical homily of Saint John Chrysostom, which are
      read at Matins, are fulfilled in them: "Let all enjoy the banquet of
      faith, let all receive the riches of goodness. Let no-one lament his
      poverty, for our common kingship hath been made manifest. Let no-one
      mourn his transgressions, for forgiveness hath shone forth from the
      tomb. Let no-one fear death, for the death of the Savior hath set us
      free."

      Whence comes the joy which we are vouchsafed on the night of Holy
      Pascha? This, my brother Christians, is a gift of God's grace, which is
      poured forth into our hearts directly from God. On this day, the Lord,
      when He has opened paradise by His resurrection, gives to the children
      of the Church to taste, in part, that very joy which the souls of the
      saved are vouchsafed in paradise. And this joy, which is given to the
      children of the Church and is not given to heretics and renegades?for
      whom the Church is not their mother and God is not their Father?is
      clear proof of the rightness of our Orthodox Church, as the holy
      fathers have taught.

      Are you aware that when many of the heterodox?Lutherans, Latins,
      Anglicans?come to our church on the night of Holy Pascha, say: "Here we
      see that the grace of God is with the Orthodox: only children of the
      true Church are able to rejoice in Christ in this way, for it pours
      forth grace from the Lord upon them." And it often happens that, having
      attended our paschal Matins and Liturgy, the heterodox convert to the
      Orthodox Faith, as it was in the days of the holy apostles, when an
      unbeliever, entering the assembly of praying and prophesying
      Christians, was also imbued with grace and said: "Truly God is with
      you" (cf. I Cor. 14: 1-25).

      During these holy days, we are friends of Christ and do not render
      servile homage to Him as do the Catholics, Uniates and Protestants, but
      glorify His resurrection with a full, gracious joy, as sons; and
      filling each other with love as brethren we lovingly kiss all our
      acquaintances thrice on the lips, saying: "Christ is risen! Indeed He
      is risen!" And thus also does the priest greet Christians when he
      censes them and makes the sign of the holy Cross over them throughout
      the paschal period.

      Yea, on this day God is with us, and we are with God, not as condemned
      slaves, but as brethren of Christ. This is why by the First Ecumenical
      Council, and later also at the Sixth Ecumenical Council, kneeling and
      prostrations were forbidden from the day of Holy Pascha through Vespers
      of Holy Pentecost: for on this day Christ called the faithful not
      slaves, but His brothers, saying to Mary Magdalene: "Go to My brethren,
      and say unto them: 'I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My
      God, and your God'" [Jn. 20: 17]. And two days earlier, He said even
      more clearly: "Henceforth I call you not servants? but I have called
      you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made
      known unto you" (Jn. 15: 15).

      But now has the time come which sanctifies all men and must break those
      snares for all who have fallen into the snares of delusion, and return
      men to the shelter of the true Orthodox Church.
      True, Russian people who have learned little in the semi-Christian
      modern schools are barely aware of the saving power of our membership
      in the Holy Church, and place value only on abstract belief. Now exile
      in foreign lands has opened the eyes of many: "Now hath come the time
      which sanctifieth all men." We have understood that only the Orthodox
      Church has a vital, active fellowship with heaven, and on the day of
      Holy Pascha it calls us to the spiritual banquet with the voice of
      Saint John Chrysostom: "The table is laden: take delight therein, all
      of you. The calf hath been fattened: let no-one depart hungry". And
      further on: "Christ hath risen, and the demons have fallen! Christ hath
      risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ hath risen, and life is restored!
      Christ hath risen, and not one of the dead remaineth in the grave". Let
      us go to Him from the graves of our sins and little faith. To Him "Who
      loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made
      us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and
      dominion, for ever and ever. Amen" (Rev. 1: 5-6).
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