14 April 2012

To the clergy and the entire beloved flock of the Canadian Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad


Honorable fathers, beloved in the Lord brothers and sisters!

During the forthcoming days, throughout all the Orthodox churches in the homeland and in the diaspora, wherever they may be located, the Church of Christ summons all of her faithful children to strengthen their spiritual unity in the risen Lord, in this also promising spiritual rebirth to all who have wavered in their loyalty to the Church, but who now desire to establish and strengthen this loyalty anew, The Church reminds them of the precious words of John Chrysostom, which we hear in our churches on the day of Holy Pascha itself: “The table is laden: take delight therein, all of you. The calf hath been fattened: let no-one depart hungry, let all enjoy the banquet of faith, let all receive the riches of goodness.”

Yet is it easy for us today to avail ourselves of this joyous banquet at the resurrection of Christ? One cannot conceal the fact that this is difficult and will become even more difficult. “May the Lord Jesus Christ, Who rules over His Church and the whole world, renew in your hearts the joy over His resurrection which all Christians must immutably bear in their hearts , paying no heed to all the grievous afflictions of the present time, which have befallen all of Christianity in the form of the decline of morals and the coldness of people towards one another, as well as toward the Church of God itself.” With these words, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Antony, the founder of the Russian Church Abroad, addressed his flock eighty years ago.

Let us remember, brethren and sisters, that the very first news of the resurrection of Christ, more than 2,000 years ago, was received with disbelief by the people, even those who belonged to His little flock, His closest disciples. And the priests of the temple of Jerusalem even hastened to counter these joyous tidings with the slander they had concocted, that (supposedly) the body of the Savior had been stolen by the apostles. Yet, contrary to the insidious intention of the slanderers, this slander was shown to be a most powerful proof of the truth of the Savior’s resurrection; it in and of itself unmasked how totally improbable this fabrication is, which is initially refuted by the news of the resurrection of Christ carried by the myrrh-bearing women. It was this very thing that transformed those who, affrighted, had fled from the Garden of Gethsemane and were afraid even to appear on the streets, into bold, divinely-inspired apostles, preachers of the invincible victory of Christ.

Of course, during this present age of little faith, the news of the resurrection of Christ rarely receives a joyous response from all who call themselves Christians. But those who are truly people of the Church, during these paschal days, all throughout this period, have experienced and continue to experience, by God’s mercy, that special, joyful sense which is the foretaste and prototype of eternal Joy in the kingdom of Christ.

“It is the day of the Resurrection! Let us shine with splendor, O ye peoples! Pascha, the Pascha of the Lord! For from death to life and from earth to heaven…”

Truly Christ Is Risen!

Archbishop of Montreal & Canada

Pascha of Christ, 2012