Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of The
Orthodox Church in America
This is the day of resurrection! Let us be illumined by the Feast!
Let us embrace each other! Let us call 'brothers' even those that hate us,
and forgive all by the resurrection!
(The Paschal Stikhiri)
Dearly Beloved in Christ,
As we began our journey to Pascha, we approached one another, seeking and
offering forgiveness as that essential first step on the road of repentance.
Today, as we celebrate the completion of our journey, we celebrate that
forgiveness which comes from the empty tomb, that forgiveness which tears
down the walls of separation and challenges us to embrace friend and foe
alike for the sake of the One Who invites us to partake of His divine
Far from being a celebration of events past, our proclamation of the
Resurrection is rooted in an event that transcends time and space. As such,
we literally participate in a reality that is ever-present, that knows "no
sunset," that unites that which has gone before us with that which is yet to
come in a timeless celebration of the most perfect example and experience of
love revealed to mankind. We, at one and the same time, stand with the women
at the entrance to the sepulcher and in the midst of the eternal Kingdom of
God. Our hearts are illumined. Our eyes are opened as the risen Savior
challenges us to look beyond the cares and sorrows of this world to the joys
promised in the life of the world to come. Our envy and passions, our pride
and hatred are rendered meaningless as we partake of the eternal victory and
new life so freely offered to us by Christ, the eternal Victor.
Just as our journey began with the call to seek and to offer forgiveness, so
too the true joy of Holy Pascha is fulfilled in forgiveness. Our Savior
makes no compromise in this regard. The Holy Fathers remind us that the warm
fire of God's love indeed purifies and purges us when we reach out to one
another in love; at the same time, it torments us when our hearts remain
cold, when we seek forgiveness yet fail to offer it, when we refuse to
embrace others with that "holy kiss" of forgiveness, even for the sake of
To say that we live in unsettled times, filled with anger and hatred, is an
understatement. News and images of war and fear, inhumanity and death, flash
before our eyes every day. The world sees aggression as a sign of strength,
forgiveness and reconciliation as a sign of weakness. Yet, in the midst of
such chaos, the light of the empty tomb shines forth in those who embrace
the risen Savior, the Light of the world "Who can never be overcome by
darkness" and Who challenges us to let our light shine before mankind.
May we be accounted worthy of our calling by offering to one and all that
divine forgiveness Our Lord so abundantly grants to those who accept - and
offer - it. And may the eternal joy of His Kingdom consume us here and now,
even as we anticipate the fulfillment of all things in the Risen Christ.
With love in the Risen Lord,
Archbishop of Washington and New York
Metropolitan of All America and Canada