Pascha 2004 (English)
PATRIARCHAL MESSAGE FOR THE FEAST OF PASCHA 2004
Ref. No. 132
BY THE GRACE OF GOD POPE AND PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA AND ALL AFRICA, TO THE FULLNESS OF OUR APOSTOLIC AND PATRIARCHAL THRONE, GRACE AND MERCY AND PEACE FROM OUR LORD AND GOD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST, WHO IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD.
My dear and beloved children in Christ – Christ is Risen!
Amazement constrains the hearts of all who regard our King and Master Jesus Christ risen in glory and honour and mighty power, Him who came down from Heaven beyond all concept and dwelt as man among us, so that all who believe in Him could rise with Him in the coming and already present in the Church Kingdom of Glory of the Father who is without beginning and the Only-Begotten Son and the Life-Giving Spirit.
The Resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ totally and essentially answers the question about death, which torments human thought, as it stands ecstatically before the cause of death and destruction, which is not able to be answered by logic, albeit that death and destruction are manifested in human nature, according to the daily experience of all.
The causes of death have often been sought in the environment’s natural and worldly order and have been researched by philosophy, while the so-called “natural sciences” in the past, and up until the present times, continually suggest improved answers, compile new theories and compare the facts given from many sources.
Despite the most obvious progress of science, the development of technology, the evolution of philosophical thought and the pleasures of art, despite the changes in human societies and the many polarized conditions of life, death remains the greatest and most critical question, even though during the course of the life of persons and on the whole it is minimized, suddenly appearing and being philosophized only after the death of a loved one.
The Church, based on the experience of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, confronts the question of death with a long and composed theological essay, which is articulated by reporting to the person seeking the answer throughout every historic age and in whichever civilization, giving him the one and salvific answer, or rather, the experience of it, in order that his existential distress may be alleviated. The Church’s act rises from the unity of the two natures in Christ, in the holy person of Whom are united “unaltered, inseparably, unchangeably and indivisibly” the human with the divine nature.
Logic and the categories of logic shrink before this terrible mystery, the one kept by the Church and described by logic only during its many consequences, it offers sure rest and delight, permanent enjoyment and pleasure, undiminished joy and delight. Death is overthrown by Christ, decay ceases, the living do not die, the dead arise and “no one remains in the tomb”, but is buried and rises together with Jesus.
In this context, ecclesiastical conscience is centered on the experience of the Resurrection, which it also liturgically continues during the Eucharistic anaphora, returning to God His own gifts and offering to the Creator and Preserver of the universe His own resurrected nature: “Thine own of Thine own, we offer unto Thee, in behalf of all and for all”, as we confess in the Divine Liturgy.
The contribution of the Church of Alexandria to the theology of the Incarnation and its results for humanity, of which the Resurrection is the central point, the pivot, lever and power, is shown in many ways, as also through the teachings of our Holy Father and Teacher St. Athanasios the Great, the exceptional servant of the entire body of the Church and our Predecessor: “That is why wherever the body of man has been destroyed, there Jesus heals it with His own Body and wherever the soul of man was kept by death, there Christ reveals the human soul as His own so that He may appear destructible as a man who cannot avoid death and so as God He will dissolve the destruction of death so that wherever decay had been sowed, there incorruptibility would rise and, where death had its kingdom, He would make His presence felt as a human being to reveal immortality” (St Athanasios, Patriarch of Alexandria – According to Apollinarios 1:17)
My dear children in Christ,
The burial of ecclesiastical experience through the theological word and the Apostolic tradition re-enacts the entire faith of the Church in the God-man Jesus Christ who is risen from the dead, and that is why Pascha constitutes “the feast of feasts and celebration of celebrations”, the chief and leader among days, during which we celebrate not materially, but spiritually, not mournfully but silently, not dramatically but humbly. We celebrate in a community of Grace the attack of life against death, the prevalence of incorruptibility over ruin, the everlasting life of human nature over destruction, life-giving love over disruptive fear, the unity of people in Christ over the individualistic delusion of divisive interest.
Truly, the missionary deed inaugurated on earth by Christ, where all of us who confess Him as Saviour and Redeemer constitute a united organic body as members, is a mission of love and Resurrection, a mission of joy and peace, a mission of eucharistic gathering and of prayer of expectation. For this reason, the risen Jesus when appearing to His Holy Apostles preaching the word of joy and peace, blessed the Bread and the Cup of eucharistic pleasure, through which the “enlighteners of the world” were equipped before their mission to the nations, for which they worked, bearing great fruit which is fragrant and sweet-smelling.
From the Great City of Alexandria, where our Apostolic Throne of the Holy Glorious Apostle and Evangelist Mark is situated and having in our midst Jesus, the resplendent Leader, the vanquisher of destruction and the giver of the fullness of life, and being partakers of the gifts of the Resurrectional Anaphora, we pray that the Light of the life-giving Holy Sepulchre graces all the children of our glorious and Apostolic Throne, and grant to their hearts and bodies the enjoyment of the inexhaustible, limitless and inalienable divine gifts, which are not taken from death and are not subject to destruction.
Fervent intercessor to the Leading Guide of Life and the bountiful giver of excellent gifts, who is Risen from the dead
+ Petros VII
Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa
In the Great City of Alexandria
HOLY PASCHA 2004