Paschal Epistle of His Eminence Gabriel, Archbishop of Montreal & Canada. 2015

10 April 2015

Paschal Epistle
To the Priests, the Clergy
& the Entire Flock of the Diocese of Canada,
Beloved of God

Brethren & sisters beloved in the Lord,

Christ is Risen!

In these bright paschal days, when we greet each other with the joyful words “Christ is Risen,” our hearts are filled with an all-encompassing and unspeakable feeling of grace, which the Risen Lord gives to us as a foreshadowing of the promised Pascha in the heavenly kingdom.

We truly rejoice when we hear the soul-warming paschal hymns. These hymns, along with the particular paschal greeting, stay with us for forty days and thus show us that the Resurrection of Christ is truly the feast of feasts.

St. John Chrysostom, in his homily which is read during the paschal night, says: “Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord,” even those that came, as Christ says in the parable, at the eleventh hour; those that fasted and those that did not, for the Lord accepts all and warms them with the grace of Pascha.

The ever-memorable Metropolitan Vitaly used to say that we must be especially thankful during these days that we are Orthodox Christians, because only in the true Church can we feel this paschal grace.

St. Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians writes: “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Cor. 15: 14). The holy fathers explain that, had Christ not resurrected, His coming into the world, ministry and sufferings would not have meaning.

Truly our own lives would be completely without meaning and purpose had not Christ appeared to us and resurrected from the dead, granting us life eternal. How terrifying must it be for the unbeliever, who after this temporary life has no hope? In what or in whom can he have hope? Therefore it is with complete fairness that David the psalmist said, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God” (Ps. 13 (14): 1).

We, on the other hand, know truly that Christ through his salvific struggle vanquished death and opened to us the way to Eden. Therefore our Lord gives us this special feeling of joy, so that we do not forget that He is waiting for the truly faithful in eternity. Remembering this, we must always try to live our lives so that we will be worthy of the unwaning light of God’s kingdom.

“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 117 (118): 24).

Truly Christ is Risen!

Archbishop of Montréal & Canada

Pascha of Christ, 2015