PASCHAL EPISTLE
of His Eminence Agafangel,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Church Outside of Russia

    Christ is Risen!

    Right honorable Bishops and Fathers, dear brothers and sisters!

    Just as the sun lights our sinful world at dawn, so does the Pascha of our Lord illuminate our most sinful souls every year.  Just as the rays of the sun fall upon the natural world asleep in darkness and calls it to life, so does the Good news of the Resurrection of Christ reach our deadened and sleeping souls and calls them to eternal life.  On this day, in a most special way, the Lord comes to seek out those that belong to Him, those for whom He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” (John 17:21)  And the Sower of life decidedly gathers His praiseworthy harvest.  But how can we find ourselves among those, who are destined to be one with Christ in eternity?  The Lord did not create His union with all, but only with a small number of the people:  “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me.” (John 17:9)  How can we find ourselves in the small number of those chosen by God, saved and fated to remain alive?

    Just as the incarnation of God was for our sake and He dedicated His earthly body to us, and suffered and gave His life for us, which is a witness to His love for us, so must the Lord Jesus Christ become everything for us.  We, in turn, must dedicate and sacrifice our whole lives to Him.  We are called to love our Lord, our Jesus Christ, “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Matthew 22:37)  When the Lord becomes our light, our spiritual nourishment, our goal and purpose of our lives – when He becomes the one, Whom we love eternally on this earth and to Whom we draw to, when we cannot live for a minute without thinking of Him, when He enters into us and dwells within us, only then can we say of ourselves: Yes, we are disciples of Christ and the body and Soul of the Lord lives within us!  Until we dare to say that of ourselves, we remain idle observers and not participants in the Resurrection of Christ, and this Resurrection does not become our personal resurrection.

    I wish that all of us, brothers and sisters, arise with Christ from the dead, arise while we are still alive by the grace of God and the hope of this radiant Resurrection abides within us!  The Lord has come to us in these radiant days and reached out to us, to call those drowning in earthly pursuits to life eternal!  Let us decide to answer the Lord’s call for our salvation!  Let us break down the barriers of little faith in our hearts and declare with all our heart:

Truly, Christ is Risen!

+ Metropolitan Agafangel

Odessa, 2009