Faith in the Resurrection of Christ and in our own co-resurrection does not deny the painful...

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 Faith in the Resurrection of Christ and in our own co-resurrection does not deny the painful...

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Faith in the Resurrection of Christ and in our own co-resurrection does not deny the painful presence of death, pain and the cross in the life of the world. We do not suppress the harsh reality or secure for ourselves, through faith, a psychological assurance before death. However, we know that the present life is not life in its entirety, that here we are “sojourners,” that we belong to Christ and that we are journeying to His eternal Kingdom. The presence of pain and death, no matter how tangible these may be, does not constitute the ultimate reality. That lies in the definitive abolition of death. In the Kingdom of God there is neither pain nor death, but never-ending life. “Before your precious Cross,” we chant, “death is terrifying for human beings; but after your glorious Passion, humankind is terrifying for death.”[5] Faith in Christ grants us power, perseverance and patience to endure trials. Christ is the one who “heals us from every illness and delivers us from death.” He is the one who has suffered for us and has revealed to us that God is “always for us” and that God’s love for us belongs intrinsically to God’s truth. This hopeful voice of divine love is echoed in Christ’s words to the paralytic “take courage, my child” (Matt. 9.2) and to the woman with the issue of blood “take courage, daughter” (Matt. 9.22), in His words “take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16.33) before the Passion, and to the imprisoned Apostle of the Gentiles, threatened by death, “take courage, Paul” (Acts 23.11).
The present pandemic has demonstrated how fragile we are as human beings, how easily we are dominated by fear and despondency, how frail our knowledge and self-confidence appear, how antiquated the notion is that death comprises an event at the end of life and that forgetting or suppressing death is the proper way of dealing with it. Limit situations prove that we are incapable of handling our existence resolutely, when we believe that death is an invincible reality and insurmountable boundary. It is difficult to remain human without the hope of eternity. This hope lives in the hearts of all doctors, nurses, volunteers, donors and all those generously supporting their suffering brothers and sisters in a spirit of sacrifice, offering and love. In this indescribable crisis, they radiate resurrection and hope. They are the “Good Samaritans” that, at the risk of their own lives, pour oil and wine on wounds; they are the modern-day “Cyrenaeans” on the Golgotha of those lying in illness.

With these thoughts, most honorable Hierarchs and dearest children in the Lord, we glorify the name of the Risen Lord which is above all names, the source of life from His own light, who illumines the universe with the light of the Resurrection. And we pray to Him, the physician of our souls and bodies, who grants life and resurrection, that in His ineffable loving-kindness He may condescend to the human race, in order to grant us the precious gift of health and direct our steps on the straight ways, to vouchsafe the divine gift of our freedom in the world, foreshadowing its perfection in the heavenly Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Christ is Risen!

At the Phanar,
† Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant to the Risen Lord.

Holy Pascha 2020.

1.The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann 1973-1983 (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2000), 137.
2.Gregory the Theologian, On the Holy Pascha, PG 36.664.
3. Gregory Palamas, On the Holy Ascension, PG 151.277.
4.Gregory the Theologian, op. cit., 636
5. Doxastikon of the Vespers of September 27.

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