April 22, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 1996 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

Pascha 1996

Pastoral Encyclical


by the mercy of God Bishop and Metropolitan

of the God-saved Sacred Metropolis of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

To the Clergy, Monks and Laity

of our Sacred Metropolis

To the Christ-named Plenitude of our Sacred Metropolis

My beloved,

The Resurrection of Christ, apart from being a great historical event, at the same time has great anthropological, cosmological and global dimensions. Christ, with His Resurrection, ontologically defeated death and gave people the certainty of their resurrection. Thus we understand that death is not a tragic element in human life, but a simple event, just as night is not a permanent state, but a transitory event, since the day succeeds it.

Therefore, with the Resurrection of Christ, the Christian has the possibility to confess: "I expect the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come." This confession is our only hope, the joyous shout of the triumph of victory and glory. That is why the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ is a celebration of life, Bright, Pascha, a passage "from death to life".

Belief in the resurrection of the dead is the most currently relevant teaching of the Church, it is the one that spreads hope and optimism. And this is said from the point of view that today the wars, the disturbances, the various diseases of our age, the insecurities, the varied futility of life create enormous problems for man. Also, there are many systems that deny the resurrection of the dead, which further injures the modern pained and tortured man, as they limit all his attention to the hereafter.

Ancient and modern philosophical and religious systems, which still overwhelm our country today, distinguish between the "nature of the immortal soul" and the "nature of the mortal body", that is, they speak of a naturally immortal soul, which must return to the unborn world of the ideas from which it came, and of a mortal body by nature, which must disappear. With such theories, the human body is considered as a prison of the soul and in this way all the unnatural ways to free the soul from it are justified.

Among these systems are those that speak of (a) reincarnation or reanimation, according to which the human soul successively assumes various forms of bodies in order to achieve its purification; as well as those that speak of (b) euthanasia, that is, the termination of life by way of force, so that man is freed from pain; as well as what is referred to as (c) the cremation of the body, when in fact this cremation is combined with the denial and disregard of life after death.

All these and many other similar views are in complete opposition to the basic teaching of the Church about man and his existence, as well as to the central message of the feast of the Resurrection of Christ.

The teaching of the Church about man and his body is complete and responds to his most basic and essential searches. According to its teachings, the body is not simply the garment or the prison of the soul, but one of the two components that make up human existence. Then, when the Church speaks of the resurrection of man, it means the resurrection of bodies, since with the power of the Risen Christ they will also be resurrected at the Second Coming of Christ. The body is not bad and rejected, but the phronema of the flesh is bad. Also, death is not the end of life, but the completion of life, that is why the process of death is a mystery before which we stand with respect and love. Therefore, the human body can become a temple of the Holy Spirit and hence it should not be considered as a cost and as an investment, we should not stand against it in a utilitarian way.

Christ, with His Resurrection, became "the beginning of reformed creation." In fact, the Resurrection of Christ is "the renewal of human nature" and the "resurrection and regeneration and re-emergence to immortal life" of fallen Adam. This is exactly what one lives in the mysteries of the Church, which Church is the Body of the Risen Christ.

Sacred Chrysostom in his Catechetical Discourse assures: "Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave." And in the triumphant hymn of victory we sing: "Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling upon death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life." What we call death is a temporary separation of the soul from the body, it is a sleep, since with the power of the Risen Christ, the bodies will rise again and become "indestructible, passionless, thin."

The Orthodox Church, preaching and experiencing the Resurrection of Christ, gives a message of life to the modern tortured, injured and wounded man. With the message of the resurrection of the dead, he does not offer an analgesic and tranquilizer to ease man's pain, but "the medicine of immortality", to transform his life and make his life more human.

With the certainty of victory over death, accept the apostolic blessing: "The Grace of the Risen Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

With warm blessings,

The Metropolitan of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou


Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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