May 8, 2024

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2024 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2024
To the Clergy, Monks and Laity
of our Sacred Metropolis

Beloved children in the Lord,

We once again celebrate the Resurrection of Christ as a historical event, which took place during the time when Pilate as a Roman governor was in charge of the administration of Palestine, but also as a spiritual and ecclesiastical event. All the historical events connected with the incarnation of the Son and Word of God, His Passion, His Cross, His Burial and His Resurrection are connected with the salvation of man. Thus we celebrate the event of the Resurrection of Christ, as seen in the Service of Matins and in the Divine Liturgy that follows.

Among the other things that we observe in the Resurrection Divine Liturgy is that we chant instead of the Trisagion Hymn ("Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us"), the "Those who have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia!" And we sing this not only at the Divine Liturgy on the evening of Christ's Resurrection, but throughout Renewal Week until the Saturday before Thomas Sunday.

We chant this hymn with much gladness and celebration, and it evokes a special feeling for those who participate in the sacred services and are servicephiles. We chant this same hymn during the Mystery of Baptism, circling the sacred font three times. And it is chanted during this period because on Great Saturday group baptisms took place, that is, those who were catechized throughout the Holy and Great Lent were baptized on Great Saturday and during the entire Renewal Week wore white, a sign of their new resurrection life.

This hymn, "Those who have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ," is scriptural, it comes from the Epistle to the Galatians of the Apostle Paul, where it is written: "Those who have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ" (Gal. 3:26-27).

The command of the Risen Christ to His Disciples, when He appeared to them, was: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20). The fact that here we chant, according to the words of the Apostle Paul, "Those who have been baptized in Christ," does not show a difference from the word of Christ that baptism should be done in the name of the Holy Triune God, because according to the interpretation of Basil the Great: "To address Christ is a confession of all," because it manifests "the anointer God and the anointed Son and the anointing Spirit."

Also, the baptism of a person in the water of the holy font signifies the Cross, the Burial and the Resurrection of Christ, which the baptized Christian lives. The Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans refers to this when he wrote: "Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were joined to him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life" (Rom. 5:3-4). And this is connected with the fact that with Baptism we also die with Christ and are renewed with Him, because the old man died as to sin and the new man rose (Rom. 5:5-6).

In the "Apostolic Constitutions" it is written that Baptism was given to us to participate in the death of Christ on the Cross, water was given instead of burial, oil instead of the Holy Spirit, sealing instead of the Cross, myrrh is the confirmation of the confession of the Crucified and Resurrected Christ, the immersion in the water as a participation in "dying with" Christ and the emergence from the water as "rising with" Christ.

Therefore, the Mystery of Baptism is our participation in the mystery of the Cross, the Burial and the Resurrection of Christ. With Baptism the old man dies and the new man is resurrected, and this is how we live in our lives the Crucified, Buried and Risen Christ, and for this we chant triumphantly: "Those who have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia!"

Beloved children in the Lord,

In the hymn "Those who have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ" is hidden the whole meaning of the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ, but also the meaning of the Mystery of Baptism that we all received and of course also the mystery of our Christian life. This refers to how much we are true Christians and how much we spiritually live the Paschal life, and even how much we go beyond the formalities and are true celebrants of the Paschal crucifixion and resurrection.

With the Mystery of Baptism we became members of the Body of Christ, this means that we put on Christ. Christ is not a garment that we wear and then we can throw it off, but we fit into His Body, and we feel that we belong to Him, our members are members of Christ.

Saint Symeon the New Theologian, following the Apostle Paul, constantly emphasizes the truth that our members through Holy Baptism, Holy Chrismation and Divine Communion are members of Christ and constantly recommends that we imitate Christ in His Passion and His Cross, that is, to be crucified in regards to sin, in order to share in His Resurrection. He writes: "If we are ashamed to imitate Christ’s sufferings which He endured for us and to suffer as He suffered it is obvious that we shall not become partakers with Him in His glory." In reality, Christ with the Holy Spirit resurrects those who participate in a spiritual way in His death. As long as we struggle with Christ to overcome our passions, we live our resurrection in Christ.

I wish you all many years of complete gladness in the mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ, but also in the interweaving of this mystery with our own newness of life, i.e. the renewed resurrection life, because "Those who have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia!"

With paternal blessings in the Cross and Resurrection,

The Metropolitan

+ Hierotheos of Nafpaktos & Agiou Vlasiou

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Become a Patreon or Paypal Supporter:

Recurring Gifts

Contact Form


Email *

Message *