Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
I’m spending Bright Monday under the influence of sleep deprivation and a meat-induced food hangover, due to my gluttonous consumption of meat, cheese, sausage, paska, ham, chocolate…did I say meat already?
It’s hard to write when you’re just emotionally and physically burned-out with the anticipation, joy, stress and type-A busyness of this over-achieving Orthodox Christian who’s just celebrated Pascha. I shouldn’t complain nearly so much, considering how tired all the priests and deacons must be today. I always imagined there’d be a market for a Bright Week Clergy Carnival cruise. An aircraft carrier-sized cruise ship leaving port in Florida with a boatload of tired clergy wearing Hawaiian print riassas, ordering umbrella drinks and skipping the salads and veggies on the buffet line.
Well, now for something more edifying, here’s the Paschal address of Metropolitan Jonah. You’ll notice that I didn’t read his homily before I pigged out the past two days. After reading this, I am wondering ‘what was the purpose of my lenten journey’? Did I get so wrapped up at the end with the preparations for a big parish Pascha picnic, or with putting together a Pascha basket of goodies that I had craved and drooled over for 5 weeks? Busyness, even church busyness, is not Christ’s business. While he was busy dying on the Cross for my sins and lying in a tomb, I was busy cooking, rushing around to the grocery stores and doing errands in between Holy Friday and Holy Saturday services, and on Pascha morning itself. Makes you think before you stuff another piece of ham in your mouth, doesn’t it?
To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful
of The Orthodox Church in America
Dearly Beloved in Christ,
Beloved, let us greet one another with Paschal Joy, and exchange the kiss of peace.
Let us feast soberly, that our joy may be full. Let us not stuff ourselves to satiety with feasting, nor indulge our passions to insensibility. Most of all, let us not give ourselves over to the darkness of the fallen world from which we have sought to purify ourselves, lack of forgiveness, anger and judgment, bitterness and hatred.
Rather, let us allow our old selves to remain crucified and buried, that the New Man may live, resurrected in and with Christ. Let us live according to the Kingdom, in communion with the Holy Spirit, so that we may be renewed by the Resurrection.
Our Pascha is not simply the beautiful services and the good food. It is not just family and Easter bunnies. It is not just the fellowship and familiar old customs.
Pascha is the dawn of the Age to Come, the Kingdom of God radiating into our souls and minds and hearts. Pascha is the experience of salvation itself, the foretaste of the Messianic Banquet, and the transformation of our lives. In Pascha we behold Christ, Risen from the dead, the revelation of the Second Coming.
We have gone with Christ to His Passion, but have we been crucified with Him?
We have held vigil at His Tomb, but were we asleep, and missed Him? Did our minds betray us and we doubt His Resurrection?
Let the fruit of our Lenten efforts be the enlightenment of our minds and the renewal of our hearts that our repentance not be in vain.
Let us sing with joy together with the Angels and Archangels, and all creation which has groaned awaiting the revelation of the Son of Man. With all creation, the living and dead, the spiritual and material, and with all the saints, let us cry:
Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!
Христос Воскресе из мертвых, смертию смерть поправ, и сущим во гробех живот даровав!
Χριστος ανεστη εκ νεκρων, θανατο θανατον πατησας και της εν τοις μνημασι ζωην χαρισαμενος.
With love and joy in the Risen Christ,
Archbishop of Washington and New York
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South