Archpastoral Letter for Pascha 2005
N. 166 - May 1, 2005
"Do not cling to
To the Very Reverend Protopresbyters, the Very
Reverend and Reverend Fathers, Beloved Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the
CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!
VOSKRESE! VOISTINNU VOSKRESE!
Today is the Feast of Feasts, the Great Day of
Gladness from which flows the heavenly light and joy in every Christian feast.
Today is the Morning of the Eighth Day, the Day that rises above all night, and
transcends all time. Today, eternity has broken into yesterday, and has made
tomorrow new. This, truly, is the Day the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be
glad in it!
Today is the Day that is larger than twenty
four hours. It cannot be contained by a single square on the calendar. This
uncontainable, untamed and unrestrained nature of Pascha is due to the
uncontainable nature of Christ, Himself, the Risen Lord.
The Resurrection of Christ was beyond all
expectation, even though this very event was prophesied repeatedly by the
Prophets and Christ Himself. But more than this, the Risen Christ is beyond all
attempts to define Him. In His ministry before the Passion, the people thought
they knew Him. But after the Resurrection, the only way to know Him was to
accept the simple, but mindbending thought that this Jesus is truly Christ and
In her tormented confusion, Mary Magdalene
searched the vicinity of the Tomb on the first day of the week, and could not
find the body of her Crucified Lord. She, too, mistook Christ - first as dead,
when He had been raised.....and now as a gardener, when He was her Risen Christ,
standing before her.
"Tell me where you have laid Him", she piteously begged. And with one word,
the Crucified and Resurrected Lord cut through the fog of sorrow and disbelief,
and shone eternity into her limited vision. "Mary", He said, speaking her name,
the sound of which echoed as a Shepherd calls out to a lamb lost in the night,
guiding it home by the Voice that knows each sheep by its name.
In poignant relief, Mary turned to Jesus and
called out, "Teacher", and clung to Him in an embrace known only to loved ones
who have suffered years of separation - an embrace meant to keep the beloved
from ever slipping away again.
But Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me".
"Do not cling to Me", the Risen Christ said, "as you formerly knew and loved
Me....do not cling to Me according to the limited, physical images you have
formed of Me".
Things changed at the Resurrection. Before the
Cross, the disciples thought they knew Christ. They thought He was familiar to
them. They thought He fit within their expectations. Before Good Friday, Christ
was mistaken for a Teacher, a Prophet, a Miracle-Worker, a Revolutionary and a
But after that Great Sunday, He could only be
accepted as God, or else refused as a charlatan. After that Sunday, there was -
and is - no middle way.
This is why we gather every week on a Sunday,
for the first day of the week is forever remembered as the Day when we realized
that Christ is beyond all understanding. It is the Day that we finally
understood that Jesus Christ is God - God beyond all definition and
description, God above every name.
In this world of unbelief, man continues to
look upon Christ contrary to fact, as though He had never been raised. But in
the Church, we know Him as He is, and we know that we cannot comprehend Him. We
know Him in His Body, the Church, where He reveals His resurrected Presence in
the sweet and holy Light of Orthodoxy.
He comes to us, and we do not know Him until He
speaks our name in prayer, and reveals Himself in the Eucharistic Bread of
Communion. Then, like Mary Magdalene and the two on the road to Emmaus, our
eyes are opened, and we may then, and only then, "discern the Body of Christ"
(1 Corinthians 11:29).
Today, I pray
that you will discern Christ, and notice the Risen Lord in your heart. Listen,
for He is calling your name. And to you, as to Mary, He also says, "Do not
cling to Me in lesser ways".
"I am everything that you expected",
"but much, much
"I no longer fit in History,
for I have
ascended into Everlasting.
"You cannot hold Me, you cannot grasp
Me, you cannot contain Me,
you cannot own
"I am beyond your language, your
textbooks and dictionaries,
and your every thought
for I am the
Word spoken in the Silence of Eternity.
"I am not just your hero, your
teacher, your role-model, or your philosopher
- I am the perfection of all these
- But more so
"You may not hold Me within your
expectations and definitions
for I have comprehended you,
and because of
this, you cannot comprehend Me.
"I am nothing less than your Christ,
the Son of God, the Word -
Only-begotten and Consubstantial with
Ever-Proceeding Holy Spirit.
"I have visited
your life and have lifted it up into My own.
"I have descended into your death
and have given
you My eternal, resurrected Name".
Today, in the Feast of Feasts, I pray that you
will know this Risen Christ, and the joy of the Resurrection that flows from
the Holy Trinity. Know Him as God, and do not cling to lesser things. Let the
Spirit that exalts Him today lift up your heart above the world's horizons, and
see the triumph of Heaven, and the joy of the saints.....
.....so that you
might sing, with all those who have seen the Resurrection, and know that Jesus
CHRISTOS VOSKRESE! VOISTINNU VOSKRESE!
CHRIST IS RISEN!
INDEED HE IS RISEN!
Keeping you closely in the affection of my
heart, and encouraging you with my Archpastoral prayers in this joyous Paschal
Season, I remain
yours in the Kind Paschal Light,
Archpastoral Letter is to be read in all Diocesan Parishes in lieu of the
regular Sermon at the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, May 1, 2005