Paschal Encyclical 2013 – His Grace Bishop Demetrius of Boston

Thursday, 02 May 2013 17:55

Beloved children in the Lord,

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

In this holy season, we celebrate the two greatest events of our Faith: the death of Christ on the Cross and His glorious Resurrection from the grave on the third day. These are the two great mysteries upon which our whole life as Christians is based; and it is by participating in them that we are joined to Christ and inherit life everlasting. We partake of these events both in our own personal struggle and in the liturgical life of the Church. When we take up our personal Cross and die to sin, we begin to grasp, in part, the greatness of the mystery of the Cross, which is the mystery of our salvation. When we have been crucified together with Christ to sin, we are raised up with Him into a new life of virtue and holiness. It is this reality that we experience symbolically in the season of Great Lent and Pascha. During the Fast, we mortify our fleshly members and die together with Christ on the Cross. Now, as we joyfully proclaim His Resurrection, we receive a taste of the everlasting joy and sweetness of Kingdom of Heaven.

We are still weak and sinful human beings, but if we open our hearts to God’s grace we, together with Christ, trample upon the dominion of the devil. Our Savior Jesus Christ is not ashamed to make us one body with Himself and to make us fellow heirs in His kingdom. To this end, He humbled himself for our sake, “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).

Our Saviour condescended to suffer crucifixion, which was considered in the ancient world to be one of the most humiliating death sentences. He suffered on the Cross in order to redeem the race of mankind, and to show us that God loves us so much, that He would even die a shameful and agonizing death for us. Yet it was through His death and Resurrection that our Lord defeated death and granted us everlasting life. That is why the Church chants in her Paschal hymn “for behold, through the Cross joy is come to the whole world”! After the Crucifixion of Christ, the Cross was no longer a symbol of shame, but became rather a symbol of joy and victory. Indeed, Christ changes all things! That which is humiliated becomes exalted! That which is scarlet becomes white! That which is profane becomes pure!

Brother and Sisters in Christ! We have now passed through the period of Great Lent. We have passed from death unto life and from earth unto heaven. We have passed from the Egypt of the passions into the promised land of Israel. We have become a holy nation, a chosen people, citizens of the Jerusalem on high. Now our Saviour is Risen! Now He has established us in salvation! Now has He manifested Himself in us! Now indeed are we the fellow heirs with our Saviour Jesus Christ, the Victor over sin and death. To Him be glory forever.

Beloved,

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Your fervent suppliant before the Lord,

† Demetrius of Boston

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Ἀγαπητὰ ἐν Κυρίῳ τέκνα,

Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς Ἀνέστη!

Αὐτὲς τὶς ἅγιες ἡμέρες, γιορτάζουμε τὰ δύο μεγαλύτερα γεγονότα τῆς Πίστεώς μας: τὸν θάνατο τοῦ Χριστοῦ στὸν Σταυρὸ καὶ τὴν ἔνδοξή Του Ἀνάσταση ἀπὸ τὸν τάφο τὴν τρίτη ἡμέρα. Αὐτά εἶναι τὰ δύο μεγάλα μυστήρια πάνω στὰ ὁποῖα βασίζεται ὅλη ἡ ζωή μας ὡς Χριστιανοί. Καὶ εἶναι ἡ συμμετοχή μας σ΄ αὐτὰ τὰ μυστήρια ὁ τρόπος μὲ τὸν ὁποῖο ἑνωνόμαστε μὲ τὸν Χριστὸ καὶ κληρονομοῦμε ζωὴ αἰώνιο. Συμμετέχουμε στὰ γεγονότα αὐτὰ καὶ μὲ τὸν δικὸ μας προσωπικὸ ἀγῶνα καὶ μέσα στὴ λειτουργικὴ ζωὴ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Ὅταν σηκώνουμε τὸν ἀτομικὸ μας Σταυρὸ καὶ γινόμαστε νεκροὶ στὴν ἁμαρτία, τότε ἀρχίζουμε νὰ κατανοοῦμε, ἐν μέρει, τὸ μεγαλεῖο τοῦ μυστηρίου τοῦ Σταυροῦ, τὸ ὁποῖο εἶναι τὸ μυστήριο τῆς σωτηρίας μας. Ὅταν συσταυρωθοῦμε μαζὶ μὲ τὸ Χριστὸ καὶ νεκρωθοῦμε στὴν ἁμαρτία, ἀνασταινόμαστε μαζί Του σὲ μιὰ καινούργια ζωὴ ἀρετῆς καὶ ἁγιότητας. Αὐτὴ τὴν πραγματικότητα ζοῦμε συμβολικὰ κατὰ τὴν περίοδο τῆς Μεγάλης Τεσσσαρακοστῆς καὶ τοῦ Πάσχα. Κατὰ τὴ διάρκεια τῆς Νηστείας, νεκρώνουμε τὰ σαρκικὰ μας μέλη καὶ πεθαίνουμε μαζὶ μὲ τὸ Χριστὸ πάνω στὸ Σταυρό. Καὶ τώρα, ἀνακηρύττοντας χαρούμενα τὴν Ἀνάστασή Του, παίρνουμε μιὰ γεύση τῆς γλυκύτητας τῆς Οὐρανίου Βασιλείας.

Εἴμαστε ἀκόμη ἀδύνατοι καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ ἄνθρωποι, ἀλλά ἄν ἀνοίξουμε τὶς καρδιὲς μας στὴν χάρη τοῦ Θεοῦ, τότε κι ἐμείς, μαζί μὲ τὸν Χριστό, πατᾶμε πάνω στὴν κυριαρχία τοῦ διαβόλου. Ὁ Σωτήρας μας Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς δὲν ντρέπεται νὰ μᾶς κάνει ἕνα σῶμα μὲ τὸν Ἑαυτό Του καὶ νὰ μᾶς πάρει συγκληρονόμους στὴ Βασιλεία Του. Γι’ αὐτό τὸν σκοπὸ καὶ ταπείνωσε τὸν Ἑαυτό Του γιὰ χάρη μας, “καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος, ἐταπείνωσεν Ἑαυτόν γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου, θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ” (Φιλιπ. β’:8).

Ὁ Σωτήρας μας καταδέχθηκε νὰ ὑποφέρει τὸν σταυρικὸ θάνατο, ὁ ὁποῖος στὸν ἀρχαῖο κόσμο θεωρεῖτο μία ἀπό τὶς πιὸ ἀτιμωτικὲς θανατικὲς ποινές. Ὑπέφερε πάνω στὸ Σταυρὸ γιὰ νὰ λυτρώσει τὸ ἀνθρώπινο γένος, καὶ γιὰ νὰ μᾶς δείξει ὅτι τόσο πολὺ μᾶς ἀγαπάει ὁ Θεός, ποὺ θέλησε καὶ νὰ πεθάνει ἀκόμη μὲ ὀδυνηρὸ κι ἐξεφτελιστικὸ θάνατο γιὰ μᾶς. Ἐν τούτοις, ἦταν διὰ μέσου τοῦ θανάτου Του καὶ τῆς Ἀναστάσεώς Του ποὺ ὁ Κύριός μας νίκησε τὸν θάνατο καὶ μᾶς χάρισε ζωὴ αἰώνια. Νὰ, λοιπόν, γιὰ ποιὸ λόγο ἡ Ἐκκλησία μας ψάλλει στὸν Πασχάλιο Ὕμνο της “Ἰδού, γάρ, ἦλθε διὰ τοῦ σταυροῦ χαρὰ ἐν ὅλῳ τῶ κόσμῳ”! Μετὰ ἀπὸ τὴ Σταύρωση τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ Σταυρὸς ἔπαψε νὰ εἶναι σύμβολο ἀτιμώσεως κι ἔγινε, ἀντιθέτως, σύμβολο χαρᾶς καὶ νίκης. Πράγματι, ὁ Χριστός ἀλλάζει τὰ πάντα! Αὐτὸ ποὺ εἶναι ταπεινωμένο, ὑψώνεται! Αὐτὸ ποὺ εἶναι λεκιασμένο μὲ κόκκινο, γίνεται λευκό! Αὐτό πού εἶναι βεβηλωμένο, γίνεται ἁγνό!

Ἀδελφοὶ καὶ Ἀδελφὲς ἐν Χριστῶ! Ἔχουμε πλέον διαβεῖ τὴν περίοδο τῆς Μεγάλης Τεσσαρακοστῆς. Ἔχουμε περάσει ἀπὸ τὸν θάνατο στὴ ζωὴ κι ἀπὸ τὴ γῆ στόν οὐρανό.Ἔχουμε φύγει ἀπὸ τὴν Αἴγυπτο τῶν παθῶν κι έχουμε φθάσει στὴ γῆ τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τοῦ Ἰσραήλ. Ἔχουμε γίνει ἅγιο ἔθνος, ἐκλεκτὸς λαός, πολίτες τῆς Ἄνω Ἱερουσαλήμ.Τώρα ἔχει ἀναστηθεῖ ὁ Σωτήρας μας! Τώρα μᾶς ἔχει στερεώσει στὴν σωτηρία! Τώρα ἔχει φανερωθεῖ ἐντὸς μας! Τώρα πλέον εἴμαστε πράγματι συγκληρονόμοι μαζὶ μὲ τὸν Σωτῆρα μας Ἰησοῦ Χριστό, τὸν Νικητὴ τῆς ἁμαρτίας καὶ τοῦ θανάτου. Δική Του ἄς εἶναι ἡ δόξα γιὰ πάντα.

Ἀγαπητοί,

Χριστός Ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς Ἀνέστη!

Διάπυρος εὐχέτης πάντων ὑμῶν πρός Κύριον.

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