Orthodox Church in America
DIOCESE OF THE MIDWEST
Office of the Archbishop
Holy and Bright Pascha 2006 April 23, 2006
To the Reverend Clergy and Monastics, and all the Faithful of the Diocese:
CHRIST IS RISEN!
Dearly Beloved in the Lord,
I address you on this glorious Feast of Feasts as a father to his children in the risen Lord, for indeed, as the Diocesan Hierarch, your spiritual health and well being have been entrusted to my care. Please know that I pray constantly for the protection and edification of this Diocesan Church, and I humbly ask that you pray for me, and that you will forgive my failings.
I address you, however, not only as spiritual children, but also as co-workers, brothers, sisters, and friends in Christ. ALL of us, who have been baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3) and have put on Christ (Rom. 13:14)-no matter our station in life or ministry in the Church- have been given the awesome and joyful task of witnessing to the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord. ALL of us are bidden to "work out [our] salvation in fear and trembling" (Phil 2 12) ALL of us-great and small, rich and poor, young and old, men, women, and children-are called to be united as members of the one Body, whose head is Christ (CoL 1:18). ALL of us must learn to "rejoice with those who rejoice [and] weep with those who weep" (Rom. 12:15). And ALL of us stand together in the common work- the Liturgy-of the Church, offering the Holy Things for the life of the world and receiving the Mysteries of the Lord's very Body and Blood.
This constant scriptural emphasis on our belonging to One Body; this communal aspect of our life; this solidarity in the Church, which is our protection from so many onslaughts of the enemy, is particularly in my mind and heart as we enter the joy of Holy Pascha this year. As we struggle to calm the turmoil that has come upon us in recent months, I am much comforted by the oneness of mind that I observe among the faithful clergy and laity in the Diocese. To be sure, on more than one occasion I have been renewed in spirit by the words of encouragement and Christian love that have been offered to me. I am very grateful, personally, for your care and concern; but beyond that, I am grateful that as Diocesan Church, the turmoil has not deterred us from pressing on with the work that needs to be done: praying, preaching, teaching, and worshipping our crucified and risen Lord, placing our trust in Him.
It is imperative that we continue to strive for this oneness of mind. TOGETHER let us heed the call to repentance. TOGETHER let us offer forgiveness, as we have been forgiven. TOGETHER let us seek the genuine witness so that all may come to the life-giving knowledge of the Holy Trinity. TOGETHER let us behold the Cross, where death is being trampled down by death. And TOGETHER let us be filled with the light of the empty tomb.
If this be our life-unified in the joy of Holy Pascha and in the Lord who grants us that joy-then we will not be overcome by any turmoil that might be stirred up against the Church. We can always go forward, knowing that the Lord will not abandon those who call upon His name. As we are reminded in the Canon for Holy Saturday, "Hell is king over mortal men, but not forever."
Invoking God's Blessing upon you, and with very best wishes for a joyous, peaceful, and bright celebration of the Feast, I remain
Faithfully yours in Christ
CHRIST IS RISEN!