Paschal Epistle of the Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate
of His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr of Kyiv and All Ukraine, the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
to Archpastors, Pastors, Monastics and All Faithful Children of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
The Lord's Passover, the Passover, and again I say the
Passover to the honor of the Trinity! This is to us a
Feast of feasts and a Solemnity of solemnities as far
exalted above all others (not only those which are merely
human and creep on the ground, but even those which are of
Christ Himself, and are celebrated in His honor) as the
Sun is above the stars.
St. Gregory the Theologian
Beloved in the Lord archpastors, reverend pastors, honorable in Christ monastics, God-loving laity – brothers and sisters!
On that day, according to our ancient Christian tradition that never grows obsolete, I am greeting you with the joyous "Christ is Risen!"
By God's mercy we have reached the radiant Easter day! From the moment when the Lord's disciples told the world of the Resurrection of Our Savior Jesus Christ, all of the Church's life is filled with unfading joy – Christ is risen from the dead, and death is conquered!
As the Holy Hierarch Meliton of Sardinia said, Jesus Christ is "the unsaid beginning and the unconceivable ending," Alfa and Omega of the life of the whole world and of every individual person, because He created the entire universe, He accomplished our salvation, and He will come to judge living and dead.
In times before the Incarnation, the Passions and the glorious Resurrection of Christ, humankind, realizing the inevitability of death, became accustomed to it, and even more, as prophet Isaiah says, made a covenant with it (Isaiah 28: 15). Unwilling to oppose sin, humankind submitted to it.
But the God's elect preserved faith in salvation from the total reign of death, this faith inspired hope, inspired for the righteous life, imparted sense to the human being. And in the time appointed by God (Romans 5: 6) our Lord Jesus Christ took flesh, died for us and resurrected, having fulfilled the hope of the righteous. The life free from death began for all mankind. From then onward, illnesses and death has no complete power, do not scarify, and do not instill the feeling of helplessness, peculiar to the old-testament man. And we do not have to make covenant with death, because sin is overcome by faith, and the death in the Lord leads to the resurrection with Him.
The Paschal joy of the Christians becomes complete in the hope of personal resurrection from the dead, proclaimed by the Church in the words of the Creed: "We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come."
Christ is first fruits from them who slept, and time will come when in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15: 22)!
This truth is so meaningful that everything loses its sense without it, loses its value, despair and unbelief displace everything. "If there is no resurrection, neither is there any God nor Providence," the Venerable John Damascene says ("An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith," 4.37).
My beloved, the Resurrection of Christ brought renovation to the world, and already now, in this earthy life we have to bring to action the blissful possibility to perfect and change it.
We cannot but notice that the world lying in wickedness (1 John 5: 19) with even stronger persistency is disavowing Christian values, that under the slogan of humanism and freedom the displacement of the Christian principles from social life is going on. The largest advertising industry works non-stop in order to make sin more colorful, bright and attractive, desired. For many the sin in its various manifestations becomes the sense of life. Striving for it, the people are ready to sacrifice many things, including their conscience. Competition for achievement of the false benefits brings about division in all spheres of human life, as well as undue estrangement, contradicting the design of God about human and to the spirit of the Gospel love.
But the Holy Church, taking over from its head, Our Lord Jesus Christ, opposes this division and calls on everyone to preserve this unity (Ephesians 4: 3). Neither political, nor economical and national, nor any other reasons can be placed above our unity with Christ and in Christ. At the same time it should be remembered that the unity should not be reached by concessions to sin and by pleasing the sin that runs contrary to the principles of the Gospel Truth, but is to be built on the foundation of one faith, and one spirit (1 Corinthians 1: 10). May the Love that crucified itself for us and resurrected guide us in everything.
The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ Resurrected, which will be "preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations" (Matthew 24:14). The Gospel preachers are all the pious Christians. It is wrong to think that the Word about God is to be delivered by priests or theologians only. Whatever one was – either a doctor or a teacher, a military servant or a politician, a worker by the working bench, a peasant in the field, a student or a journalist – if you consider yourself Christian, you are responsible before God and the people not for your labor only, but for the perception of the Church by those who have not come to faith yet, who have not defined their spiritual choice. And the best preaching is our life full of the spirit of peace and patience, striving for love and truth.
The Ukrainian nation is experiencing difficult times. Economical and political problems have caused many to be disappointed in justice, to become embittered, full of malevolence and desire of revenge. Many have retreated into themselves, have become indifferent to others. Can one create and build one's life in such a state of mind? Can evil be conquered by evil? "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12: 21). And where from one should draw force for fulfillment of the Savior's commandments? The answer is clear: the One Who calls us to the perfect good – He gives force necessary for that. Only if we wanted ourselves not only to hear the Word of Christ, but to fulfill it, not being passive observers or idle critics, but real coworkers of Christ and His saints. We are to ask power from God, "the daily bread," and not to be afraid to share with one another what God granted us. Let everyone think of what he can do in order for the world to become kinder, to make one's neighbor's life easier. Let' s become more conscious and responsible, diligent and hard-working, throw away any untruth, quarrels and slander, let's become more attentive to each other's needs, be merciful and compassionate. And may Christ the Savior Resurrected help us in all that!
On this radiant day that the Lord has made (Psalter 117: 24), dear brothers and sisters, may our Paschal joy be gratitude to God for His Love for us, His abundant mercy and largess! May everyone hearing the words of the Easter greeting rejoice: "Christ is Risen!" – “Indeed He is Risen!”
Pascha of Christ
Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine,
Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church