† B A R T H O L O M E W BY GOD’S MERCY ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE-NEW ROME AND ECUMENICAL...

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 † B A R T H O L O M E W BY GOD’S MERCY ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE-NEW ROME AND ECUMENICAL...

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† B A R T H O L O M E W
BY GOD’S MERCY
ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE-NEW ROME
AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH
TO THE PLENITUDE OF THE CHURCH: MAY THE GRACE, PEACE AND MERCY
OF CHRIST RISEN IN GLORY BE WITH YOU ALL
* * *
Dearest brother Hierarchs and beloved children in the Lord,
Having arrived at Holy Pascha and becoming partakers of the joy of the Resurrection, we praise the Lord of glory, who trampled down death by death and resurrected with Him the entire race of Adam, opening for us all the gates of paradise.
The splendid Resurrection of Christ is the confirmation that what prevails in the life of the world is not death, but the Savior who abolished the dominion of death. Formerly known to us as the Word without flesh and subsequently as the Word who assumed flesh for us on account of love for humankind, who died as man and was risen with might as God, He is the Savior who will come again in glory to fulfil the Divine Economy.
The mystery and experience of the Resurrection constitutes the core of the ecclesiastical life. The radiant worship, the sacred mysteries, the life of prayer, fasting and ascesis, pastoral ministry and good witness in the world – all of these emanate the fragrance of Paschal joy. The life of the faithful in the Church is a daily Pascha, “a joy from above,” “the joy of salvation,” as well as the “salvation as joy.”[1]

This is why the services of Holy and Great Week are not gloomy but filled with the victorious power of the Resurrection. There, we discover that the Cross does not have the last word in the plan for the salvation of humankind and the world. This is foreshadowed already on the Saturday of Lazarus. The raising from the dead of Christ’s intimate friend is a prefigurement of the “common resurrection.” The hymn “Today is hung upon the wood [of the Cross]” comes to a climax in the invocation “Show us, too, your glorious Resurrection.” Before the Epitaphios, we chant “I magnify your Passion, I praise your burial, together with your Resurrection.” And during the Paschal service, we resoundingly declare the true meaning of the Cross: “For behold, through the Cross, joy has come into the whole world.”
The “chosen and holy day” of Pascha is the dawn of the “eighth day,” the first-fruit of the “new creation.” The experience of our own resurrection, the great “miracle of my salvation.”[2] It is the lived affirmation that the Lord suffered and was led to death for our sake and that He rose from the dead for us “foreshadowing for us the resurrection for boundless ages.”[3] Throughout the Paschal period, we hymn with unparalleled poetry the anthropological meaning of the resplendent Resurrection of Christ, the Passover of humankind from slavery to genuine freedom, “the progression and ascension from below to the above and to the promised land.”[4] This salvific renewal in Christ is realized in the Church as a dynamic extension of the Eucharistic ethos in the world, as “speaking the truth in love,” as synergy with God for the transfiguration of the world, so that the world may be rendered an image of the fullness of the final revelation of the divine love in the Kingdom of the last times. Living in the risen Lord means proclaiming the Gospel “to the ends of the earth,” in the manner of the Apostles; it is the witness in practice of the grace that has appeared and the expectation of the “new creation,” where “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more.” (Rev. 21.4)

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