Archpastoral Letter For Pascha 2015
To the Very Reverend Protopresbyters, Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, and the Faithful of our God-Protected Diocese:
CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED, HE IS RISEN!
On this great and glorious Feast of Pascha – the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, our hearts are filled with tremendous joy, our souls are transformed and we bask in the Light of Truth. This year I want to share with you an excerpt from an inspiring, uplifting and brilliant homily of our Father among the Saints, Gregory of Nyssa.
THE PASCHAL HOMILY OF ST. GREGORY OF NYSSA
The reign of life has begun, the tyranny of death is ended. A new birth has taken place, a new life has come, a new order of existence has appeared, our very nature has been transformed! This birth is not brought about by human generation, by the will of man, or by the desire of the flesh, but by God.
If you wonder how, I will explain in clear language. Faith is the womb that conceives this new life, baptism the rebirth by which it is brought forth into the light of day. The Church is its nurse; her teachings are its milk, the bread from heaven is its food. It is brought to maturity by the practice of virtue; it is wedded to wisdom; it gives birth to hope. Its home is the kingdom; its rich inheritance the joys of paradise; its end, not death, but the blessed and everlasting life prepared for those who are worthy.
This is the day the Lord has made - a day far different from those made when the world was first created and which are measured by the passage of time. This is the beginning of a new creation. On this day, as the prophet says, God made a new heaven and a new earth. What is this new heaven? you may ask. It is the firmament of our faith in Christ. What is this new earth? A good heart, a heart like the earth, which drinks up the rain that falls on it and yields a rich harvest.
In this new creation, purity of life is the sun, the virtues are the stars, transparent goodness is the air, and the depths of the riches of wisdom and knowledge, the sea. Sound doctrine, the divine teachings are the grass and plants that feed God’s flock, the people whom He shepherds; the keeping of the commandments is the fruit borne by the trees.
On this day is created the true man, the man made in the image and likeness of God. For this day the Lord has made is the beginning of this new world. Of this day the prophet says that it is not like other days, nor is this night like other nights. But still we have not spoken of the greatest gift it has brought us. This day destroyed the pangs of death and brought birth of the firstborn of the dead.
I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God. O what wonderful good news! He who for our sake became like us in order to make us His brothers, now presents to His true Father His own humanity in order to draw all His kindred up after Him.
May all the Priests and Panis, Deacons, Parishioners, Friends and Supporters of our American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese experience the joy, excitement and wonder of the early followers of Christ when they first saw Him following His Resurrection. Christ is Risen!
Greetings from Johnstown with much love.
+His Grace Bishop Gregory of Nyssa
To be read as the sermon in all churches of the Diocese at the Paschal Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.