Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!
Dear Bishops, Clergy, Monastics and Laity,
Pascha – the most radiant feast of the Church – has come. Having completed the journey of the Great Fast, supported by prayer, fasting and almsgiving, the imprisoning circle of our sins, passions and failings has been unlocked by the Resurrection of the Lord. We joyfully sing: “This is that chosen and holy day. Feast of feasts, most solemn day, only king and lord of all Sabbaths, on which we ever praise Christ.” (Ode 8 – Resurrection Matins)
The Resurrection of Christ renews all the gifts you and I have received in the Holy Mystery of Baptism. It is our baptism that unlocks for us the ability to participate in the Resurrection. It is our baptism that opens the gifts of the Church for our salvation. It is our baptism that allows us to participate fully in all the other Mysteries of the Church. It is in our Baptism that we enter into the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Pascha continues to open our mind that has been anointed with the oil of gladness, to understand the mysteries of the faith and teachings of the Church. It allows us to have a ‘faith that cannot be confounded and a wisdom that overflows.’
Pascha enlightens our eyes to see things others do not or that we have missed in the past.
It enables us to find the image of God in each person we meet especially those with whom we live our daily lives. With enlightened eyes we are able to appreciate our families, friends, fellow parishioners, pastors and bishops and find the image of God in them.
Pascha fortifies our hands and we become doers of what must be done through ‘the full observance of the commandments.’ It empowers us to use our hands in giving and receiving, in praying and working. We are fortified to find God’s will in everything we do in order to have ‘an acceptable defense before the fearsome judgment seat of Christ.’
Pascha empowers our heart to be open and receptive with a ‘love that does not pretend.’ We are able to experience love, generosity and support as well as pain, illness, anguish and loneliness in our own lives and of those we sometimes pass by without a nod. We are called to be messengers of life and light and not death and darkness.
Pascha strengthens our shoulders to carry the blessings and burdens of our life and to support those who need someone to lean on. We are able to help without being asked, to walk in our brothers and sisters shoes, to help up those who has fallen, to care for the less fortunate and especially those who are ill.
Pascha fine tunes our ears to be patient and to ‘listen to the teachings of the faith’ and to the working of God in our lives while not forgetting to listen to the stories of others. We are empowered to listen and not just hear the gospel being manifested in all creation and especially in the lives of our brothers and sisters in our family, workplace and parish.
Pascha empowers all of us to proclaim to the whole world: Christ is risen from the dead, by death he trampled death, and to those in the tomb He granted life.
Bestowing my Episcopal blessing on all, I remain
In the name of the Lord!
Archbishop of Pittsburgh
Metropolitan of the United States