+ B A R T H O L O M E W
By the Mercy of God
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church Grace, Peace and Mercy
From the Savior Christ Risen in Glory
Beloved children in the Lord,Once again, in a spirit of joy and peace, we address you with the delightful and hopeful greeting: “Christ is Risen!”
The occurrences and events of our time may not seem to justify the exultation of our greeting. The natural destruction caused by seismic tremors and oceanic swells, together with the lurking devastation from possible nuclear explosion, as well as the human sacrifices resulting from military conflict and terrorist action, reveal our world to be in horrible torment and anguish from the pressure of the natural and spiritual forces of evil.
Nevertheless, the Resurrection of Christ is indeed real and grants to faithful Christians the certainty – and to all humanity the possibility – of transcending the adverse consequences of natural calamity and spiritual perversity.
Nature rebels when the arrogant human mind endeavors to tame its boundless forces endowed by the Creator it its seemingly insignificant and inactive elements. In considering from a spiritual perspective the grievous natural phenomena that plague our planet repeatedly and successively in recent times, we appreciate and acknowledge the belief that these are inseparable from the spiritual and ethical deviation of humanity.
The signs of this deviation – such as greed, avarice, and an insatiable desire for material wealth, alongside an indifference toward the poverty endured by so many as a result of the imbalanced affluence of the few – may not be clearly related to the natural occurrences in the eyes of scientists. Yet, for someone examining the matter spiritually, sin disturbs the harmony of spiritual and natural relations alike. For, there is a mystical connection between moral and natural evil; if we wish to be liberated from the latter, we must reject the former.
Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, the new Adam and God, constitutes the model for the beneficial influence of a saint on the natural world. For Christ healed physical and spiritual illness, granting comfort and healing to all people, while at the same time bringing calm and peace to stormy seas, multiplying five loaves of bread to feed the five thousand, thereby combining the reconciliation of spiritual and natural harmony. If we want to exert a positive impact on the current negative natural and political conditions of our world, then we have no other alternative than faith in the Risen Christ and fulfillment of his saving commandments.
Christ has risen and given new life to the perfect ethos of humankind, which had darkened this ethos. Christ became the first-born and pioneer of the regeneration of the world and the whole of creation. The message of the Resurrection is not empty of meaning for the quality of human life and the balanced function of nature.
As we completely and profoundly experience the Resurrection of Christ in the depth our heart, our existence shall favorably impact upon all humanity and the natural world. The natural sciences may not yet fully have underlined the relationship between the regeneration of humanity and the renewal of creation, but the experience of the saints – which should be the aim our own experience – confirms the experientially proven fact that, indeed, a person reborn in Christ restores the harmony of the natural world disturbed by sin. In Christ, the saint can move mountains for the good of the world, while the sinful person, who opposes the ways of God, can shake the earth and raise destructive waves.
Let us approach the sanctity of the Risen Christ in order, through His grace, to calm the natural and moral waves that trouble our world today.
May the grace of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, beloved children in the Lord. Amen.
Holy Pascha 2011
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople
Fervent supplicant for all
before the Risen Christ
Paschal Message of His Holiness KIRILL, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, to the Archpastors, Pastors, Monastics and All the Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church
Beloved in the Lord archpastors, all-honourable presbyters and deacons, God-loving monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters!
From my heart filled with gratitude towards God, I proclaim to all of you the great and saving news:
Christ Is Risen!
With each year the Church testifies through this Paschal exclamation to the event of universal significance which happened almost two thousand years ago. It was then that early in the morning the myrrh-bearing women came to the burial site of their Teacher and saw that the tomb was empty. The divine power of Christ had triumphed over the law of death. He had risen, testifying to all of humanity that death was not the end of life, that death was overcome by the power of God.
Christ’s resurrection, in being a unique event in world history, became by God’s intention the beginning too of our own personal resurrection. It was precisely for this that the Saviour came into the world, suffered, was crucified and rose from the tomb in order that each person had the chance to go through the experience of resurrection from the dead, and not in the figurative but direct meaning of this world. St. Paul speaks clearly of this: ‘God… will also raise us up by his own power’ (1 Cor 6: 14).
That is why the feast of Pascha is the feast of the victory of life over death, for through the resurrection of Christ the Saviour resurrection from the dead has been granted to us all. And whatever difficult circumstances we may endure in our earthly life, whatever tribulations may be our lot, whatever fears people may try to instill in us – for they possess no spiritual power to foresee the future – our perception of the world ought to be calm and joyous, for Christ has risen.
The feast of Pascha in Holy Russia has always been great and radiant. And now in recent decades it has again returned to many homes and families. It is now also celebrated in those places where previously there had been no Paschal greeting: in hospitals, prisons, in the army and navy, and even in space.
May God grant that beyond the external transformations taking part now in the countries of the Russian world there may be accomplished the genuine rebirth of human souls, that the joy of Christ’s resurrection may fill the hearts of each one of us, that the light of divine love may warm not only our families and friends but also people deprived of the chance of being in church, the elderly, sick and lonely.
Through Christ’s resurrection the believer acquires the chance of communicating with the power of grace sent down from above so that he may live in truth and according to God’s commandments: to be good and merciful, honest and a well-wisher in his relations with people, to be capable of sharing with them both joy and grief.
This Christian attitude towards our neighbours includes both concern for one’s country, for one’s people, and for one’s family and home. In preaching the priority of eternal spiritual values, the Church calls upon her children to adopt a tactful attitude towards the temporal yet real values of the world created by God: towards the environment and towards our rich cultural inheritance which has been made over centuries by our predecessors.
To be guardians of the spiritual treasures and traditions of Orthodoxy means to transform oneself and one’s inner world actively, as well as to maintain the beauty and harmony of the world which surrounds us and to build them up in those places where they have been destroyed by the ill will of people. This is the vocation and responsibility of the Christian.
The Lord does not demand of us endeavours that our beyond our strength. He appeals to the soul of each individual and again and again calls upon us: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’ (Mt 11: 28-30).
In order to feel and understand how good and light is the burden that the Lord lays upon us, we must learn how to do good to our neighbours and those far from us. In this learning process it is only the first steps that are difficult: to stop in time and not to answer rudeness with rudeness, evil with evil, falsehood with falsehood, condemnation with condemnation.
And then at least to feel gratification as a result of a correct and honest act which is beneficial to the other person, whether in the family, at work, in the parish or simply when speaking to other people and acquaintances. This sense of gratification can then turn into a joyful and optimistic spiritual condition if good deeds carried out not for the sake of gain but from a pure heart become a part of our lives. It is only then that we will feel the changes for the better in our public life when we become aware of the presence of the indestructible link between the good we have done and the well-being of society.
The evangelical motivation of our acts both in our private and professional and public sphere is capable of changing radically both ourselves and the world we live in.
‘May God arise and his enemies be scattered!’ – we exclaim on that light-bearing night. May God arise in our hearts and may the falsehood, enmity, evil, discord and all divisions in our life be scattered!
From the bottom of my heart I congratulate all of you, my dear ones, on the feast of Holy Pascha. May the aid and blessing of the Lord who has truly risen accompany each of us in our further labours for the glory of the Church, the well-being of the country in which we live, and for the good of our neighbours and those far from us. Amen.
T H E Ο D O R O S II
by the Mercy of God,
Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa,
to the plenitude of our Apostolic and Patriarchal throne,
Grace and Mercy and Peace of our Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Risen from the dead.
My Dear Brothers,
Christ is risen!
I am addressing you my Easter message from the country where the Son and Word of God the Father, made His first steps; from the country where Our Lord, chased away by the fury of Herod, lived as a peregrinating immigrant the early years of His life; a life only temporarily earthy and mortal, as it was demonstrated by His Resurrection, which conclusively won death.
I am addressing you my Easter message from Egypt which once again found itself at the forefront of historical developments. This time because its people arose from the graves of political and social injustice; because its people demanded peacefully and won the right of living respectably, the right of speaking and acting freely; because its people inspired worldwide admiration by converting the uncertainty and the fear of radical change into an explosion of dignity and hope.
Yet in the hearts of millions of people throughout the African continent, and throughout the world, hope is severely dwindling. At this night of Resurrection, my thought is with those who are looking for outlets to the deadlocks of their lives; with those who are trapped in a reality that does not provide them any perspective; with those who are unable to offer themselves even the necessaries.
My thought is with those who sacrifice their right to personal freedom in order to survive; with those who fall into the hands of human traffickers and are coerced into being trafficked and becoming subject to any kind of exploitation.
At this night of Resurrection, my thought is with the victims of trafficking; of this modern form of slavery; of this crime against humanity that shames us all.
During one of my missionary trips in West Africa, I met a woman who had been “purchased” and “sold”. Her words shattered me; she said to me: “They stole my life …I will never get it back.” The way she was looking at me, shook me. In her eyes I saw demerit, fear, and shame. In her eyes it was being reflected an entire continent bleeding from the drain of valuable human resources.
I felt puzzled. Is it possible, when transport and labor markets are being globalized, developed countries to raise walls impenetrable to non-privileged? Is it possible the enforcement of more and more restrictive measures to convert the hope of a decent life into a marketable product? Is it possible the desperate need for work to make people giving their own freedom in gage?
Our Mission does its best so as to safeguard the vulnerable population groups of women and children; the main victims of modern slave trade. It gives priority to securing livelihoods and to promoting education. It stands by the weak people so as them to gain self-confidence. It creates local support networks so as people not to be lured by the sirens of fake promises.
I deeply fear however, that the flood of despair sooner or later will become unstoppable. It is time to deal locally with circumstances from which they are trying to escape all those who choose to be trafficked and be lost in the dark waters of exploitation. It is time to give to every human being, as personal existence, as complete and perfect image of God, the means to freely decide for his or her life. And it is time, hard though it sounds, some in name only Christians to stop exploiting these beleaguered people in every way.
Let therefore the powerful of this earth not forget the words of the Nobel laureate novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez: “A man only has the right to look down on another man when it is to help him to stand up”. Only when love towards our fellow humans ceases to have conventional limits; only when we realize that the reason to exist is based on the coexistence with the others; then only it will nest again in our hearts, not just the joy for the Resurrection of our Lord, yet also the joy for the revival of our humanity.
Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa
In the Great City of Alexandria
Holy Easter 2011