UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA
Slava Isusu Khrystu! All Praise Be to Jesus Christ!
ARCHEPISCOPAL PASCHAL PASTORAL LETTER
To Our beloved Brothers in the Episcopate,
beloved Clergy, Monastics, Seminarians and Faithful
entrusted to Our spiritual care throughout the world:
PEACE, THE DEEPEST FRATERNAL LOVE AND APOSTOLIC BENEDICTION!
Mary Magdalene panicked, believing she had lost her Lord: “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they have put him.”
How very many people are seeking the Lord and yet not finding Him in politics, economics, international justice, and constitutions of so-called modern Christian countries. It is just as Mary Magdalene said: "They have taken the Lord, and we do not know where they have put him."
But for His part God too is seeking to meet up with us, to save us from ourselves by sharing with us His divine nature. Having become incarnate, He comes into our human story, into the history of our Church, and right into our personal lives. He has found us and we have met Him in our families, in our work, in the small conflicts that entangle us, and in the little sacrifices that we have imposed upon ourselves this Lent. Every time we meet Him, it is truly a celebration of Pascha.
Where do we meet the Risen Christ? Jesus told his followers to meet him in Galilee, but Galilee is all those places where human beings are to be found: among the poor, the sick, marginalized, the victims of violence, among us sinners and the even among powerful of this world who push Him out from the society and are determined to grant Him no public forum.
The Risen Christ continues to enter into human history, gratuitously offering His mercy, forgiveness and love. As we meet Him, let His love be believed, lived, celebrated, and let our very lives become celebrations of this love! The historical fact of His resurrection is the guarantee of our own resurrection.
This meeting with the Risen Lord on our journeys gives us, as believers, a special characteristic. It has to be said that we Christians sure do have some nerve! We dare to talk about Easter, joy and the victory over death while at the same time the count of the victims of war, of disease and of natural catastrophes goes up, while each day bombards us with new images of violence and conflict, and in Gaza the Holy Land is cruelly bathed in blood.
We do not forget this. Christ, the one who has promised us victory and peace, knows what suffering is in his heart as well as in his body. Abandoned, rejected in every way, He shared our humanity right to the bitter end, in aguish, in neglect, in the death that He conquered. It is in the midst of failure, physical and moral suffering, periods of solitude, doubt or abandonment, and even as we face death itself that the unheard of announcement of the Resurrection meets us. He comes to meet us there, so we dare to sing our Alleluia: we have found Him, He is risen and we are risen with Him!
The resurrection is at work each time we choose to give comfort and to love Jesus Christ in our neighbor; each time we prefer His forgiveness to hate, each time that we allow love and peace to claim a place among men.
The resurrection is embodied in the new children of God that are born through baptism and in each time we feel ourselves to be living members of this Church: not dead or dormant members, but living, conscious, faithful and responsible members who are joyful and positive.
Let us look for the signs of His resurrection, like the apostle John entering the tomb. "He saw and he believed" because of the simple clues: the shroud and the head cloth lying in place, sunken in on themselves, empty of the corpse that had been wrapped up in them. The resurrection often shows itself through tiny clues, not always through great events. The one who loves in Christ, though he be wounded, sees these signs and shouts "Alleluia."
On this Easter day we have to proclaim our Alleluia, first of all with our families and then with our Christian communities. We must not, however, be ashamed of showing our faith in the Risen Jesus to those outside the Christian community through our witness, our joy and, most of all, through our firm and unconditional fraternal charity.
Given at Solus Christi Skete of the Monks of New Manjava, Milwaukee, WI, this 24th day of April, 2011, the feast of the Resurrection of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, in the seventh year of Our Episcopate and the sixth year of our election as Metropolitan Prime Bishop.