Paschal Epistle

Of His Eminence Andronik

Bishop of Richmond Hill and New York

 

The angels in heaven, o Christ our Savior, sing of Thy resurrection.

Make us on earth also worthy to hymn Thee with a pure heart.

Hymn of the Bright Resurrection of Christ

 

Honorable fathers, dear brothers and sisters in Christ!

 

Pascha of 2008 soon will be upon us, and after having endured the religious upheaval of last year, it reminds one of the first Pascha celebrated by Gods disciples.

Only a year ago, we tried to be like an anchor, holding fast the life-saving vessel of our dear Church Abroad in honor of the traditions of the Holy Fathers of Orthodoxy, the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, the deeds of the New Russian Martyrs and Confessors, and the legacies of the hierarchs and founding fathers of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Since then, we have seen this vessel tear from its anchor and be drawn with no one at the helm to uncertain shores.

The pain of separation has once again touched our families and communities. Many of our brothers and sisters, even those who were in total agreement with us, did not wait for the day of our first Pascha after the ruin and destruction of the past.

Then last summer, we met here, on American soil, gathering all our remaining spiritual strengths and resources for the re-establishment of our Church Abroad. All of us for whom the Church has been a Mother since being born abroad, and all those for whom it became a Mother in our eternally divided Fatherland.

For several months we all celebrated at our Altars the name of the only bishop of the Church Abroad who withstood the threats and temptations, the Most Reverend Bishop Agafangel. But God in His Mercy did not abandon us and now we have three sacred omofors in our Church. And from one day to the next, there are more of us.

That is why this day reminds us so much of the first Pascha, when the Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ came to His disciples, who were dwelling in sorrow and dread.

 

As we go forward, it is now very important that all of us bishops, priests and the flock carry out their service without any false feelings like the Pharisees and to literally follow the New Testament epistle of the Holy Apostle Peter:

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock.

And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.

To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5; 1-11)

 

As we celebrate our joy at the Resurrected Christ during Bright Week and in the days of Pentecost, let us free our hearts from pride, impurity, doubts and fears. Having brought the fruit worthy of repentance (Matthew 3:8) during Great Lent and having partaken of the Holy Sacraments of Christ, let us not defile ourselves with sin.

 

We shall ask our Lord, now Resurrected, to give us strength this and every Sunday with the life-affirming words

 

Christ is risen!

Truly, He is risen!

 

Humbly

+Andronik

Bishop of Richmond Hill and New York

 

New York

April 27, 2008 (N.S.)

Resurrection of Christ