April 26, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 1999 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

My beloved brethren,

The Resurrection of Christ is a celebration of life, because He offered life to the whole world. That is why we Greeks celebrate this event very brightly. We feel that it is not an ordinary celebration, but the hope of our life. It is a celebration that causes the pain from our soul and life to flee, since it offers a new perspective to our existence.

Indeed, the Resurrection of Christ created a new perspective for man, opened the horizons of his thinking and life. It is not only an event that refers to Christ, but also extends to mankind, since it is effectively connected to man's salvation. This can be seen from the gifts that the Risen Christ gave to His disciples, and of course to all people.

When He appeared to His disciples who were locked in the upper room for fear of the Jews, He gave them peace: "Peace be with you" (John 6:21) He said to them. The disciples' souls had been seized by fear from what had previously taken place, that is, from the events that came from the hatred of the Scribes and the Pharisees, from the frivolity, but also the murderousness of the Jewish mob. At the same time they had great insecurity, from the absence of their great Teacher and uncertainty about the future. That is why Christ gave them this great good of peace.

Along with peace, He also gave them the ability to forgive sins: "Receive the Holy Spirit; if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven" (John 6:22-23). Sin separates man from God and from his brethren. Every sin has theological, anthropological and social consequences. It is not just a religious event, because when one commits acts of denial of God, then one also commits social crimes. After all, it is well known the saying that "if there is no God, everything is permitted." The committing of sin creates in man terrible regrets and loss of interpersonal relationships.

The disciples, after seeing their beloved Master and even after receiving His peace and the Holy Spirit, with which they could forgive sins, rejoiced exceedingly: "The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord" (John 6:20). Therefore, together with peace and the reception of the Holy Spirit, they also received the great gift of joy, which is the result of their communion with Christ, the proof of the transcendence of death and this made them very strong to face all the problems and difficulties in their lives.

Fear, insecurity and inner mental turmoil, sins and constant remorse of conscience, sorrow and despair, together with all that is connected with them, are those that preoccupy and torment modern man as well. In fact, modern social conditions increase internal mental problems. Who has not experienced the terrible torment of the remorse of a sin? Who has not faced inner turmoil and insecurity from various uncertainties associated with human life and the futility of that life? Who has not felt the hell of sorrow and rejection overwhelm his soul?

There is no person who has not gone through these terrible and terrifying situations. But the most terrible thing is that many do not know the way to free themselves from this terrible vice that presses them. Many times they resort to methods and solutions that complicate things even more, either in human ideologies, or in mystical perceptions, or in magical and demonic situations.

But we must know that only the Risen Christ can offer the three great gifts that we all need, namely peace, forgiveness of sins and joy. Only Christ can rest our soul. And the feast of the Resurrection of Christ is connected with this search and hope. We rejoice, we celebrate, and in this way we seek from Christ peace, redemption from inner regrets and the acquisition of real joy.

From this perspective I wish you all, for today, many years, and from this perspective I address you with the paschal greeting and the triumphant paean of victory: "Christ is Risen", brethren.

An ardent supplicant before God,

† HIEROTHEOS of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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