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