Paschal Epistle

In this day and age, there are two types of tribulations which befall every one of us. Tribulation for the sake of God and tribulation for the sake of the world, and one cannot go through life without escaping them; either tribulation for the sake of God or tribulation for the sake of the world. The latter is onerous and brings no reward, while tribulation for the sake of God holds the promise of eternal life.

Scripture teaches us, an evening can bring tears, while the morning may bring joy. An evening can bring betrayal, tribulation, and despondency, while the morning may bring a message from God, joy, and Peace. The darkness passes and the sunshine bursts forth. The destroyer of Hell is interred one day, and a new Adam arises the next day. What is worse than death for a person? The great martyr Job called it the queen of all horrors for a reason. Can a person wish for happiness on earth, when his or her thoughts are overcome constantly by the inevitability of death? When it lies in wait for a person no matter where he or she goes, when the grave yawns before him or her, always ready to pull him or her in? A person can drive away thoughts of his or her demise and can try to distract oneself in order to avoid thinking of this unwelcome guest, while it mocks him or her, comes to visit, and tears away one dear friend or family member after another without mercy or warning. But then suddenly the words ring out: Christ is Risen! Death ceases to exist for a Christian! Death itself is slain. There is only sleep, repose, and eternal peace in Christ, but no death! The Sinless and Eternal One died on the Cross, while the mortals, having become one with Him in His body and blood, become of one flesh and the mortals are made living members of His Divine body - His Church - and He becomes its master. And now the Holy Master has come back from the dead. Is it possible that the parts of the body remain dead? Is it possible that He does not bring us back to life with Him? In the Resurrection of Christ - we are also resurrected - as He is our Divine Master, He is the first to be reborn from the dead.

The joyful news of the Ressurection of Christ has been trumpeted for many centuries, and each time, the poor heart of mankind, humble before God, bursts into flame as if from a electric spark and is filled with such amazing wonder, that it forgets all manner of tribulations, all the burdens and hardships of life and sings not the song of this world, but celebrates the joy of the heavenly. Only three words, but what gracefilled strength they possess! Where does this grace come from for us mortals? What is unique about this miraculous strength?

It is the eternal miracle of our Savior, Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the life-giving fruits of His redemptive suffering on the cross.

I congratulate all of the esteemed priests, monastics and faithful members of our diocese with this grand and truly glorious day - the Ressurection of Christ!

Christ is Risen!

Most Reverend Sofroniy

Bishop of St. Petersburg and Northern Russia

The Ressurection of Christ, 2008, St. Petersburg