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Paschal Encyclical - April 1980

Dearly Beloved, 

“Feast of feasts and festivals of festivals”, the entire Christian world celebrates once again, and especially the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ.  The feast of the Resurrection if of all the feast the most splendid because the event which is celebrated today is the center of human history, the crown of the redemption of Christ, the source of joy, of grace, of light and of glory for all the human race.

“The old has passed away.  Behold, all things have become new (2 Cor. 5:17).  That newness of life shines forth from the tomb of the Lord.  The precious blood of Christ, which was shed on fearsome Golgotha, has washed clean, for all time, the sins of the entire human race, the past, the present, and the future.  The dry bones of Adam, buried deep under that Place of the Skull, came alive immediately as they were touched by the life-giving blood of God.  Oh! What a life giving transfusion of blood that was. Oh, ho unbounded the love of man by the Creator.  Just a few drops of diving blood restored all the shortcoming of the race restoring all once again to eternal life.

Golgotha was succeeded by the life-giving entombment and by the glorious resurrection of Christ on the 3rd day.  The grave was not able to hold the Lord of life.  By His power, He rose on the third day from the dead, and with him he raised Adam and all those born of Adam.  “This is the resurrection day.  Let all nations be resplendent!  “It is Pascha, the Pascha, the Pascha of the Lord”!  for in it Christ has taken us from death to life and from earth to heaven.  Let us sing to Him the triumphant hymn: “Christ has risen”!

With the Resurrection, the whole movement of human history changed in a most dramatic way.  Death no longer has reign over the human race.  “Where, death, is thy sting?  Where, oh Hades is thy victory?” (I Cor. 15:55)  “Christ is risen, and life reigns anew.  Christ is risen, and the demons have fallen.  Christ is risen, and there are no dead left in the tombs.”  Christ is risen, and a new beginning breaks forth for the life of humanity.

The redemption of the human race from the bonds of sin and death, from the unbreakable bonds of Hades is final and complete.  Joy has filled all things as we have felt the experience of the Resurrection, because Christ is God, He is Life, dancing forth from the grave, because after the darkness of Holy Friday, “rising out of the grace, beautiful, the sun of justice has shone upon all of us.”

The Church once again calls all of us, those who have fasted and those who have not fasted to partake of the Banquet of Faith.  The calf is ample, let no one go away hungry, let no one remain in sorrow for his sins, because forgiveness shines forth from the tomb.  Let no one grieve for his poverty, because for all of us the light of the unwaning Kingdom of Christ now shines.

The unwaning light of the Resurrected Lord continues in a miraculous manner to shine from that truly blessed grave which received as one asleep the Creator.  In the holy city of Jerusalem the only true patriarch, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, on that light filled night of the Resurrection perform the traditional ceremony of the Holy Light.  From the life-giving tomb of the Lord gives forth once again this year of the Holy Light of the Resurrection.  “Come, let us receive light from the unwaning light”. The patriarch invited us and along with him, altogether, with one voice, all of the Orthodox Bishops and priest of the Church.  And that hymn of the Patriarch becomes a paean of the Unwaning Light of Orthodoxy: “Glory to Christ who has risen from the dead”, sing together the whole of the Orthodox World.

Let us approach once more the light of the Resurrection.  Let us allow the light of the Resurrection to light up our lives.

Our whole contemporary world has need of that life.  For our world stills sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.  For the world does voluntarily blind itself before the glowing light of the Resurrected Christ refusing to accept his light; even now in the moment, especially in that place where the first was established the peace between God and man, that peace which is the true basis and the source of genuine peace among men.

Let us who are here brethren, receive the unwaning light of the Lord, the light of peace, of joy which springs forth from the holy tomb of our Lord.  And as we ourselves are illuminated by it, let us allow that light to shine forth before men (Matt. 5:15)  Let us become “sons of light and day”, a source of light of peace and joy for our fellowman.  And let our light shine upon those who are close and those who are afar off.  Upon all those who have the need of the Light of Christ.  And as we make firm our decision to do our duty to that true light, which illumines every man who comes in to the world, let us sing worthily together which all of the Church: “Come receive the light form the unwaning light, and glorify Christ who is risen from the dead”.

With my warmest paternal blessing that the grace, the joy, and the peace of the Risen Christ fill all of your lives, I remain,

Your Spiritual Father,

Bishop of Pittsburgh