Archpastoral Letter for Pascha 2004
Prot. N. 161 - April 11, 2004
To the Very Reverend Protopresbyters, Very Reverend and
Reverend Fathers, Monastics and Pious Faithful of our Diocese:
Christ is Risen! Christos Voskrese! Christ is Risen!
Let us arise and enter into the Resurrection Joy of our Lord! The Banquet Chamber is prepared! Even as the Lord commanded His Disciples to prepare the Upper Room for His Mystical Supper (St. Mark 14:12-16), so He has commanded us to celebrate this Queen of Feasts with great rejoicing. For He greets each one of us as He greeted the Holy Women coming to His empty- Tomb: "Rejoice!"
Let us don the new robes washed white in the Blood of the Lamb washed clean by Repentance and Confession. Though our sins have been as scarlet, they are now as white as snow; though they have been red like crimson they are now as pure white wool (cf. Isaiah 1: 18).
Let us wear with thankfulness the ring of our betrothal by the Holy Spirit .....upon the right hand of our righteous deeds, deeds that witness to the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives: love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22,23 ).
Let us celebrate our liberty in Christ, who has freed us from the tyranny of sin and guilt, and promises us the freedom of Eternal Life, with our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace (cf. Ephesians 6:15), knowing, as the Prophet Isaiah sings:
How beautiful upon the mountains are thefeet of them who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring glad tidings of good things, who proclaim salvation, Who say to Sion, "Your God reigns!" (Isaiah 52:7)
Today, beloved Faithful, the Risen Christ flings wide the gates of Paradise to all, and we are all called to the Banquet of Faith. As the Divine Chrysostom says in his greatest of homilies:
"The Table is full-laden! Let all fare sumptuously! The Calf is ample! Let none go forth hungry!"
For so it has well pleased our Heavenly Father, Who loves the world and all of us so much that He has given His Only Begotten Son -to be born, to live, teach, suffer, die, be buried and rise again -to the end that none of us should perish but that we inherit life everlasting.
He accepts this Day of Resurrection as He accepted the Prodigal Son, shouting out in His Own divine joy:
" Bring the fatted Calf! Sacrifice Him! Let us feast, yes, blaze with joy! For these my children were dead, and are alive again! They were lost, and now are found. " (St. Luke 15:23,24)
Our Saviour is indeed the "Fatted Calf' replete with every blessing and spiritual nourishment, able and willing to feed the cosmos. He sacrificed Himself freely to deliver us from slavery. And He rises from the Tomb with joy - indescribable, because He leads us back to life! He finds us who were lost!
We were once dead, my beloved, dead in sins and in the works of iniquity, of selfishness, hatred and of envy. Let us not be as the elder brother in the Parable of the Prodigal, who willingly stays outside the Banquet of the Lord. Let none of us begrudge the forgiveness of another .
Remember the words of the Father in response to his refusal:
"My child, you have always been with me, and everything I have is yours- But it was right that we celebrate and rejoice, for this, your brother, was dead and is alive again,- he was lost and is now found- " (St. Luke 15 :31,32)
Let this be the hallmark of our Paschal celebrations. Let this be the spirit of our participation in the Liturgy. It is meet and right that we celebrate and rejoice -both for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We were all dead, and we are alive again! We were all lost, and now we are found!
Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!
Imparting to all of you my hierarchical blessing on this Feast of Feasts, and keeping all of you in remembrance in the Paschal Liturgy, I remain
Most Sincerely Yours in Christ Risen
+ METROPOLITAN NICHOLAS
This Archpastoral Letter is to be read in all Diocesan Parishes in lieu of the regular Sermon at the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, April 11, 2004