Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah
To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful
of The Orthodox Church in America
Beloved in Christ, Fathers and concelebrants, brothers and sisters,
Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!
I greet you with joy in the Risen Lord!
Having passed the course of the Fast, let us feast soberly, giving thanks to God. Let our feasting never obscure the Feast of Grace, the experience of the Presence of Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, in our midst, the Host of our Feast.
We have beheld the Resurrection of Christ, and we have experienced the resurrection of our souls. We have seen the true Light, and have been illumined by the radiance of the Kingdom. We have feasted on the Lamb of God, and eaten the Flesh of God. We have partaken of the Fountain of Immortality, and drunk the new Wine of the Messianic Banquet. Our minds and hearts are illumined and raised up, drunk with the Grace of the Resurrection. This Feast of Feasts is the ultimate celebration of the Lord of Lords, who came to be slain and given as food to the Faithful.
Jesus Christ has come and purified us, sanctified us, and arrayed us in His own glory, which He shares with the Father since before time began. He is the Great High Priest, the true Hierarch and Bishop of our souls, who so loved us that he took our own fallenness and brokenness, and healed us. He healed our bodies, unto life eternal by overcoming death itself. He heals our souls, by cleansing our minds and hearts from the corruption of passions. He opens our spiritual eyes so that we can behold Him, perceive Him, dwell in Him, be aware of Him, and live in Him. He has given us salvation, the knowledge of the God as Father, by sharing His own life with us, His will, His perception, His faith, His prayer, His Spirit.
Our Fast has been to purify us from all things that distract our minds and heart from Him. We have striven to cut off our selfishness by self denial. We have followed Him and taken up our cross, in the likeness of Jesus who bore His Cross, so that we might crucify the corruption which is in us through our passions and desires. We have striven to forgive our neighbors, so that we might be forgiven. Let us abandon ourselves to Him, committing our minds and hearts and all our lives to Him, detached from all that has kept us in bondage to the fallenness of the world. We have judged ourselves, so that we might not be condemned as we stand before Him by our judgment of our brothers and sisters, on that awesome Day of His Coming.
Pascha is the Day of Judgment! Pascha is the Day of the Lord! Pascha: the Day of Resurrection, the Dawning of the Kingdom. Let our rejoicing be spiritual, our souls illumined and our hearts open, to receive Him, Who comes in the Name of the Lord. Let our resurrection be unto spiritual rejoicing in salvation, not the condemnation drunkenness of the passions.
Let us rejoice! For Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing Life!
With love and joy in the Risen Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada