April 30, 2023

1962 Paschal Message of St. John Maximovitch

 Christ is Risen!

“Your resurrection, Christ the Savior, angels sing in heaven, and grant us on earth a pure heart to glorify You.”

Now everything is filled with light, the sky, the earth and the underworld, the whole creation rejoices and is glad. The earth rejoices, freed from the curse for the sin of Adam. The heavens rejoice, seeing Him who descended from them to earth, now ascending from the underworld and leading out those who were languishing there. Angels sing, glorifying the Conqueror of death, their Creator, now visible. All creatures praise the Lord, all the forces of nature. Each of them sings in their own way and extols the Risen One. Something unusual is happening all over the world. The sacred and saving night is replaced by the luminiferous Great Day.

The rising sun leaps with its rays, like John the Baptist leaping in the womb, greeting the shining Sun of Truth from the tomb. Everything is now saturated with the grace of God and foreshadows the renewal of the universe. Does our heart feel it? Yes, those who meet Holy Pascha with faith and reverence now fill their souls with inexpressible joy, grace-filled peace touches their hearts. All sorrows and tribulations flee far away, even sufferings and hardships become bright. The Divine Meal is mysteriously anticipated in the coming eternal glorious Kingdom of God. I would like those blessed hours not to stop, so that the night and day of Holy Pascha would continue endlessly. Like the apostles on Tabor, we are ready to exclaim: “Lord, it is good for us to be here!” (Matt. 17:4).

But do we always and fully feel it? Doesn't it happen that when everything rejoices, our heart is covered with a cloud, and sometimes filled with sadness? Remembering previous years, we then regret the lost ability to feel Paschal joy, while others do not understand why and how people can rejoice now. But no matter how they explain it, no matter what reasons they find, there is only one truth: our heart is unclean.

If we have wavered in faith, if doubts have entered our souls, if we have fallen away or departed from the Church, then, like the high priests of the Jews, we drive away from ourselves the thought of the Risen Christ, for the Resurrection of Christ is terrible to us. If we have committed a serious sin and our conscience convicts us of unfaithfulness to Christ and His commandments, then a stone lies over our heart, blocking the entrance to the light of the Resurrection. If we plunged into the affairs of life and gave our heart to them, it does not feel full joy. Especially if we have hostility or, even worse, enmity towards our neighbors, if we condemn them and exalt ourselves over them, we cannot rejoice at the meeting with the Risen Lord. Then, on the Day of Resurrection, we either doubt, like the wavering disciples, or we do not believe, like His enemies, or subconsciously do not want a meeting with Him.

But let us cast aside all doubts, bringing forth repentance! Let us embrace each other, forgive those who hate us and joyfully cry out: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life!”

Christ is Risen!

Pascha, 1962, Paris-Brussels.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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