April 4, 2010
The Feast of Feasts
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Christ is Risen!
In the joy and light of the glorious Resurrection of our Lord we gather on this Holy and Great Feast of Pascha to celebrate the life-giving presence and power of Christ. On this day, we give the highest praise to God for His love. On this feast, our thankfulness is unceasing, as we contemplate our restoration from death to life. Today, we offer the brightest witness throughout the world as we proclaim our faith in our Savior. On this day, our hearts are enlivened with the victory of the ages. Christ is risen. Death has been defeated, and we will live forever in blessed communion with God.
On this Feast of Feasts we recognize that the Resurrection of Christ and our salvation is absolutely the work of God. In His great love for us, He fulfilled His divine promise of redemption. This love brought us into existence. His love endured even through our disobedience. In this great love, He established a means by which we would be reconciled to Him, the bondage of sin and death would be broken, and we could have and experience life as He intended it to be. This we could not accomplish on our own. It is God, and God alone who commands the light to shine out of the darkness, who in the midst of death, brings life.
The beautiful and unwaning light of Pascha shines in our hearts, illuminating our souls with the power of the Resurrection and giving us a glimpse of our eternal salvation. God in His great wisdom directs this light into our hearts, our souls, our very being, permeating our entire person with truth and grace. This light resonates with who we are and what we were created to be. In the light of Pascha we know that we were not made for sin and death. We have been created for a blessed and unending life. We have been formed in His image for genuine and loving relationships with God and one another. This is not knowledge that comes from great intellectual quests or that can be acquired with wealth or status. It is a divine knowledge offered to all, and on this day we are all called to come and receive this light so that we might forever be illumined in truth and transformed in love.
This transformation and the joy that comes through the light of the knowledge of the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:6) is very real and powerful to us because Christ is in our midst. All of this has and continues to be accomplished through Him. Through His Incarnation He shared in our humanity, and through His power as the Son of God He overcame sin and death. It is His glory that shines in our hearts revealing the purpose and potential of our lives. In His face we see what we are called to be. We see the deep and enduring love of God. We see the willing sacrifice for our redemption. We see a tender invitation to return to communion with God. In our painful experience of the wounded world in which we live, of conditions of blinding darkness and utter confusion that surrounds our contemporary humanity, we see our Risen Lord in triumphant honor and glory, calling all to come to Him and receive the light of life. On this day we celebrate that wonderful knowledge of His glory: Christ is in our midst, and He always shall be.
May this light of divine truth that shines in our hearts be ever brighter on this great and glorious Feast of Pascha. May our joy be so immense and the love that we share so complete that each and every person and all of creation will hear our hymn and know that Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America
Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for the Feast of Holy Pascha 2010
April 4, 2010