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PASCHAL ENCYCLICAL OF H.E. THE ARCHBISHOP OF THYATEIRA AND GREAT BRITAIN

PASCHA 2006




"Christ said to them, 0 how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" [Luke 24: 25-26]
 


Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord, by God's grace we are celebrating once again the Lord's Resurrection from the Dead, and so I address you with the heartfelt Easter greeting: "Christ has risen from the dead!" and has vanquished death and decay and has granted the world the joy and hope of our own Resurrection and glory. We confirm the Easter greeting with the well-known response: "Truly the Lord has risen!", that He may be always among us, may re-form and renew humanity and all Creation. These days are thus characterised by the sensational events of the Passion and radiant Resurrection of the Lord. Spiritually and mystically, we Christians have gone with Him to His Passion and, therefore, we participate also in the joy and glory of His Resurrecion. The holy Evangelists and, with them, the whole Church, militant and triumphant, have become a witness and sharer of those sacred Events, which the holy Evangelist Luke describes so eloquently in the account of the journey of the two disciples (Luke and Cleopas) to Emmaus. Christ approached them without them realising that it was Jesus [Luke 24: 15-16], and "while they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them." Cleopas spoke of the sorrow and misery that had overcome them because of the events which had taken place during the week of Christ's Passion.

The Risen Christ brought to the attention of the troubled disciples that the Events of the Passion and Resurrection constitute the height of God's love to humanity. Christ "humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross" IPhiL 2:8], that he may enter, glorified and victorious, into Heaven. Therefore, the Events of these days are not just events that we remember and honour through the worship of the Risen Christ, but events of immense joy that will ever inspire, move, encourage and renew human beings and raise them up from lowliness to exaltation. These are days to remember the sick, the ill-treated, the vulnerable, those at war, the elderly, the poor and our brothers and sisters who are in need. These are days to remember those who are in prison and all our brethren who are found in want and all those who are marginalized by society. These are days to remember the orphans and the widows, the hungry and all those who have lost their loved ones and their hope, 'who have no hope' for the value and sanctity of life. It is only the hope of the Resurrection that can give encouragement and strenth to all of these people; only the hope of the Resurrection that can spiritually raise them, give them hope for a better, more just, freer, more human world; and give them faith and the expectation of a community of love and human kindness. And so, each time we celebrate these Events, we ought to consider them and delve into the mystery of Divine Love and teach ourselves and one another to imitate Christ. Let us instruct the younger generations to immerse themselves with wisdom and piety in the mystery of the Resurrection, to learn to entrus t their lives to God and to share their good things with others, to be first in the sacred race of virtue, as Christ proclaims in His Passion and Resurrection, and as the Apostles and Martyrs and all the Saints of God from that day until today have lived.


We Orthodox (like all Christians) in this country, have the privilege to freely celebrate Holy Week and Holy Pascha and bring to the streets of London and other cities in the D.K the Tradition of Orthodoxy with the sacred procession of the Epitaphios. With due piety, we chant the Lamentations of Holy and Great Friday evening and we thereby proclame the Faith to others. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, Christians are still restricted to freely express their Faith. The Resurrection of Christ reminds us yet again of the great gift of freedom, of religious tolerance and respect for human rights and dignity, for which Christ ascended the Cross and was put to death with the thieves like a criminal two thousand years' ago.
 

As I bring this Paschal message to a close, I impart the warm and heartfelt greeting of love and deep respect to the Fullness of this Sacred and Biblical Eparchy of the Oecumenical Throne of Constantinople and, as your father- in-God, I urge you all to celebrate the Feast in peace and joy and to "forgive all things on the Resurrection". Let us guard the Faith and the Message of the Resurrection as the apple of our eye, and let us keep lit the flame of the Orthodox Faith and Orthodox Practice. We are thus obliged to take first place in performing good works and charity. With active love, let us protect our sacred churches and our schools, which Orthodox Christianity has established with piety and generosity in this hospitable country. I am also glad and obliged to remind you that this year we celebrate 100 years since a few Greek immigrants set up the Church in Cardiff, capital of Wales, and dedicated it to our holy father among the saints, Nicholas the Wonderworker, Bishop of Myra, Lycia. It is fitting that the local Community of Cardiff is preparing to honour this significant event with grand celebrations. The existence of Orthodox churches, such as that of St Nicholas and so many others, in the United Kingdom are a blessing for the country which welcomes them and a sacred boast for all pious and Orthodox Christians who founded them, built them, furnished them and maintain them. They are an example to us all, inspiring us, instructing us and reminding us of our own free giving and obligation to maintain and protect with wisdom and generosity these sacred buildings which constitute an immortal witness to Christ's Resurrection and His presence among us. This is the only way that we can truly celebrate with God's blessing, and wait and hope that we will always have the love and Joy of Christ our Saviour. To Him be glory and might
to the ages

 

+Gregoios, Archbishop of Thyateira & Great Britain

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