May 1, 2023

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2003 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

My beloved brethren,

And again we have been found worthy to celebrate the events of the Resurrection of Christ. It was preceded by the veneration of the Cross of Christ and today we enjoy His glorious Resurrection.

These are not conventional and repetitive events, offered for a physical rest, but events that give meaning to our lives. With the Resurrection of Christ our whole life, with its sorrows and joys, with its sufferings and pleasures, but also the whole creation and the future of the world take on another meaning and another perspective. Without the Resurrection of Christ everything is dark, trivial, meaningless, without meaning, purpose and life.

With His Cross and Resurrection Christ defeated the devil, sin and death, the three great evils that are the source of evil in the entire world. Thus the Resurrection of Christ became "the beginning of the reformed creation", according to Saint Cyril of Alexandria, since with His Resurrection, above all, Christ became Lord of the world. Saint Nicholas Cabasilas will say that "resurrection, by nature, is correction." In other words, the Resurrection of Christ made it possible for things to return to their previous position and to rise higher. This is the magnitude of the Resurrection of Christ.

Our life within the Church, our participation, with Holy Baptism and the other Mysteries, especially with the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist, in the life of the Church is participation in this great rebirth of man and the renewal of creation. What was done in Christ must begin to act in us, so that we too, with the power of Christ, may rise from the dead works of sin, defeat the devil, sin and death within us, and from now on the victory over decay and death, which will be completed at the Second Coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead.

The holy Fathers constantly speak in their works about the transformation and change of our lives from the evil to the good state, they speak about the change of our nature, about the formation of Christ in our heart. With such renewal and rebirth, which is done by activating the power of the Risen Christ within us, and our participation in His Resurrection, the enemies flee and we gain freedom in Christ. Saint John Climacus will write that if God is resurrected in us through action, that is, through repentance and the effort to obey Christ's commandments, then "His enemies are scattered." And if we approach God through theoria, that is, through noetic prayer of the heart and His vision, then "those who hate Him and us will flee from His face and ours."

In our time, people use Christ to satisfy their particular pursuits, to satisfy their passions and weaknesses, to pit Him against other traditions, as if He were a mortal head of a religion, pitted against the heads of other religions. Thus, many crimes are committed in the name of Christ, since the passions remain within man, and are expressed externally using the name of Christ. How many crusades and how many holy wars were fought, unfortunately, in the name of Christ!

However, the Resurrection of Christ does not lend itself to such passionate situations. The Risen Christ wants to renew, transform and change our lives. He wants us to be resurrected from the works of sin, disobedience, apostasy, decay and death. When man is reborn, then he is beneficial to society and the whole world. This is because he also participates in the beginning of the total change of the world, and the experience from now on of the Kingdom of God.

These days we should not chant "Christ is Risen..." only with our lips, but also with our hearts and above all let this also contribute to the triumph of the Resurrection of Christ, which began to take place to be completed with the Second Coming of Christ.

"Christ is Risen", brethren!

With the blessings of the resurrection,


† HIEROTHEOS of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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