Pastoral Message for the Feast of the Resurrection – April 11, 2004

Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!

Sisters and Brothers in the Risen Christ!

Having passed through the dark open doorway of the Great Fast, we arrive into the light of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The risen Lord graciously welcomes us. Nothing can ever be the same. We exclaim to all who have ears to hear: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by death and to those in the tombs granting life.”

We celebrate this glorious feast as individuals, family and as church. We greet each other with a holy kiss and proclaim that “Christ is risen!” and respond “Indeed, He is risen!” This is the feast of light. This is the feast of joy and love. This is the feast of feasts. “We celebrate the victory over Death, the destruction of the deep abyss, and the birth of a new eternal life” (Easter Matins).

The risen Lord graciously welcomes us as individuals. Our relationship with the Lord is always individual. The resurrection of the Lord allows us as individuals to change from darkness to light, from despair to hope, from unbelief to faith, from hatred to love. We stand alone before the risen Christ. We were baptized into Christ, we have put on Christ, we have entered into the death and resurrection of the Lord.

The risen Lord graciously welcomes us as family. A family is made up of individuals. All of us: mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers are invited to the feast. It is in our family, biological or social, that each of us is called to live out our baptismal commitment to the risen Lord. It is my hope that all our families can celebrate Pascha this year in a special manner. Attend Easter services as a family and then celebrate together at a special meal for the occasion. It can be the time to extend a gracious welcome to members of our family who have distanced themselves from their baptismal commitment and invite them back to the celebration. It can also be the time to invite someone less fortunate than we to partake of this life-giving celebration.

The risen Lord graciously welcomes us as community – the Parish. The love of the risen Christ brings individuals joined in family celebrating together in community – the parish – the Church. Our parishes are resplendent with light, flowers and scents of spring and freshly prepared foods. Life abounds. Just as the risen Christ appeared before his disciples in community, it is also in our parish community that the same risen Christ empowers us to lead the Christian life. All the members of the parish have been empowered through Baptism, Chrismation and the Eucharist. It is through these Mysteries that the individual becomes part of a community-the Church. Sadly, some of the members leave the Church because of hurt and misunderstandings. We must welcome back those who have fallen away, those who do not attend our parishes. We need to seek them out. We need to remember them in prayer. “Let us call sisters and brothers even those who hate us, and in the Resurrection forgive everyt hing” (Easter Matins). They always remain our sisters and brothers, part of our family, members of the community of the Church because of their baptism.

Today truly is the time for celebration as individuals, family and Church because Christ is risen. Assuring you, clergy, monastics and laity, of a special remembrance in the Divine Liturgy on Easter Sunday, I remain

In the name of the Lord!

Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh