PASCHAL EPISTLE
OF THE MOST REVEREND GREGORY,
BISHOP OF SAO PAULO AND SOUTH AMERICA,
OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ABROAD

Dear loved ones in God, honorable fathers, brothers and sisters!
Christ is Risen!
O divine, O dear, O sweetest Voice! (song 9 of the Paschal Canon)

The Resurrection from the dead of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ granted mankind the ever-flowering benefits of happiness and peace and encouraged the faithful with the joyous hope of resurrection and life eternal.  Our souls are filled with a deep gratitude and a warm feeling when we hear the words of the Resurrected Savior, but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (Matthew 28:10, John 20:17)  The arising from the dead to the glory of godhood did not change the relationship between our Lord Savior and the people.  His first words after resurrection referred to His brothers, that is, His disciples, whom He chose and who were devoted to Him.  Then to all those, who, through them, believe in Him; which is all of us, dear brothers and sisters.

Let us understand with our souls and hearts this new mystery of the divine and human nature of Christ: together with Him we have one Father, together with Him we have one God!  Because of His love of mankind and His mercy, the Son of God descended on Earth, called us brothers,shared the burden of this sorrowful human existence, and suffered and died.  He resurrected thinking of His brothers; He ascended blessing His brothers; He sent the Holy Spirit to comfort His brothers; He established His Church on Earth to protect His brothers; and in blessing His brothers, He calls all of us to Him, to reside in eternal Mansions prepared by Him.

O loved ones, we are given more than we can ever comprehend!  Let us do at least what we do understand, let us be radiant for the feast, and let us embrace one another, and let us say: Brethren, even to them that hate us, let us forgive all things on the Resurrection!  O our Lord Savior, enter the tremulous soul and console it with Your soft and merciful words, Why do you weep?  Go unto them, those who despite their profound sinfulness still at some time carried a drop of peace in their souls to Your Tomb and tell them, Do not fear!  Rejoice!  Come unto those gathered in Your Name, to those praising You, to those rejoicing in You, to those praying to You.  Stand among them and say, Peace be unto you!

O Thou Divine, Gracious, Sweet voice!

Finally,our souls and hearts are filled with such devotion and warm tenderness when we hear the words of the Resurrected, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."   Not so long ago, people believed and averred that only God can forgive sins, and God now grants this Divine right to His disciples, and through them, to those who serve Him.  The power possessed by the One God, to pacify our consciences and hearts, God grants to mankind.  The Holy Spirit abides in them and acts through them in all the days to the last!

What can our human speech say about this enormous gift of the grace of God?  Mere words are indeed insufficient, we can only fall to our knees and bow to the Resurrected God, which we should hasten to do with our inadequate hearts, which are yet filled with divine love and gratitude.  May the benefits of the Resurrected Christ be spoken of from one set of lips to another, from one voice to many, for all the generations to come!

            Let us be encouraged by the sweet hope of resurrection and eternal life!!!
I call out to all of you, loved ones, with the Paschal greeting:
Christ is Risen!  Christ is Risen!  Christ is Risen!
Truly He is Risen!

+Gregory
Bishop of Sao Paulo and South America
(Inspired by the sermons and talks of Archimandrite Antonin Kapustin 1817-1894.)