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April 30, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2002 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 "Enduring the cross and abolishing death and rising from the dead, grant peace to our lives, O Lord, for You alone are the almighty."

My beloved brethren,

The events of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, which are the greatest world events, because they are connected with the rebirth of people and the renewal of the entire creation, took place twenty centuries ago in Jerusalem, which for all Christians is a beloved city. There are kept all the sacred places which are connected with the life of Christ, there is the terrible Golgotha, the happy tomb of Christ and in general Jerusalem and Palestine are the city and the land on which Christ walked during His earthly life, but also there He revealed and continues to reveal His glory.

Beyond this fact, Jerusalem is the city in which the first Christian Community developed, as described in the Acts of the Apostles, where the first apostolic synod took place. Therefore, Jerusalem is the reference of all Christians.

The word Jerusalem means "place of peace." This is because there the peace of God was finally manifested, which is connected to the Cross of Christ, where Christ united what was formerly divided, and there for the first time the greeting of the Risen Christ "Peace be with you" was heard.

But, of course, the Orthodox Church is not just connected to a place, since apart from the earthly Jerusalem, there is also the New Jerusalem which is the Orthodox Church, whose center is New Rome - Constantinople - the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but there is also the Upper Jerusalem which is the Kingdom of Heaven, the beginning and prelude of which is the experience of God, which man enjoys from this very life. This means that we deal with the city of Jerusalem spiritually, that is, we connect it with the spiritual events of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Christ, but also with the Orthodox Church and of course with the eschatological Kingdom enjoyed by the divinized from this life.

All this is said because Jerusalem as a place of peace has a primarily spiritual meaning and all those who are connected in various ways to the Crucified and Risen Christ, all the witnesses of the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ reside in Jerusalem, the place of peace which is the New Jerusalem and the Upper Jerusalem, the eternal homeland of all of us.

But we do not overlook the earthly Jerusalem, where Christ was Crucified and Resurrected, and for this reason we are distressed, because today this place of peace is a place of conflicts and wars, where blood is shed and human violence is expressed. We are deeply saddened by these events that continue Christ's sacrifice on the Cross and there repeat in a different form all the events that happened in the life of Christ. Then Christ was crucified, now people are crucified. But we hope that the Resurrection of Christ will give hope and life to these suffering people.

After all, when Christ saw Jerusalem, he wept and said: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!"

Christianity and especially the Orthodox Church is not responsible for the fact that even today wars continue to take place and violence dominates human societies, because the Orthodox Church calls all people to crucify themselves from the passions and rise to its height with a resurrected life, to feel in their lives the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ, and thus to connect with the terrible Golgotha and the place of the Resurrection. And there are saints who experienced these despotic events, namely the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ, in their personal lives. But those who do not want to respond to the call to become true disciples of the Crucified and Risen Christ are responsible for what is unfolding today, both in Jerusalem and in Palestine and throughout the world.

On the occasion of the great despotic feast of the Resurrection of Christ, we pray with all our hearts that the peace of Christ prevails in Jerusalem and Palestine, in the land where Christ walked, but of course we wish that we all live and will live in the New Jerusalem and the upper Jerusalem, the true place of peace, the homeland of God's resurrected children.

May the Risen Lord grant you His peace and His love.

Your fervent supplicator before the Risen Lord,


† HIEROTHEOS of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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