Metropolitan Vitaly's Paschal Epistle


Christ is Risen!

My greetings to all of you, our flock scattered like wheat throughout the whole world.

Pascha, The feast of feasts, is when heaven bows down to our poor earth and transfigures everyone and everything with its unwaning light. This is why Pascha was, is and will be for every Orthodox soul the real, spiritual, ultimate and only goal of its whole life. It is the longed for goal of being eternally with the Risen Saviour after the general resurrection of the whole human race.

However we often forget that the way to this eternally blessed Pascha passes inevitably through the Holy Week of the Passion. The dismissals to the church services on Holy Thursday and on the Great Friday of the Holy and Saving Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ proclaim with force and brevity what our Saviour endured: "He who in His surpassing love showed us the most excellent way of humility..." and "He who endured spitting and scourging and blows, the Cross and death, for the salvation of the world..." This path towards Pascha can be expressed through the two supreme Christian virtues - humility and endurance of sufferings.

If we are not capable of even approaching such an exalted form of humility and endurance as that of Our Lord, then at least we should fulfill what the Church prescribes for us in these holy days of the Great Fast. We must fast seriously, following the rules of the Church exactly; we must not spare ourselves in the number of our bows to the waist and prostrations to The ground. As soon as our flesh, our body, begins to groan and cry out from these spiritual efforts, and dishonestly starts making worldly, polite bows, bowing The head only, then remind it what that great ascetic of the Universal Church of Christ, St. John of the Ladder, says: "My flesh, my body, you are my friend and you are my enemy" (Homily 15, par. 86). I am eternally bound to you, for you will be resurrected and we will be together eternally. Be my friend in this short earthly life of ours and then we will worthily greet Pascha and we will never forget it, even while still here in this vale of tears. So let us labour without sparing ourselves, and we will attain to eternal blessedness.

I, Vitaly, your lowly archpastor, wish you this radiant Pascha. Amen.

Metropolitan Vitaly Pascha, 1998

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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas