PASCHAL ENCYCLICAL OF HIS GRACE BISHOP SILUAN (2023)
To all the clergy, venerable monastics and faithful people of the God-saved Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand
My dear spiritual children in the Godchild Christ,
Gathered together in our holy churches across Australia and New Zealand on the Feast of the Resurrection, with loud voice we uplift songs of thanks and praise to God, whilst heralding to people and the world that:
Christ is Risen!
Never a more beautiful greeting in mankind brothers and sisters; never more bountiful, never more meaningful, never more joyous! For, through Christ’s Resurrection humanity is freed of its infirmity, its transience; of the poisonous sting, the shackles and grip of death! Mankind is liberated from the decay and darkness of the tomb, and instead finds itself glowing in the healing, radiant light of Christ’s Never-setting Day. For this reason St John Chrysostom announces that with Christ’s Resurrection, life lives anew. That Hades is destroyed and that the demons have fallen! That the heavens are joyous seeing man in all his dignity!
Indeed brothers and sisters, Christ’s Resurrection changed the course of history of mankind for all time. The words, “He is Risen, He is not here” (Mark 16:6) have become the crossroads in the lives of men. For, as is expressed in the prayer of the Eucharistic Canon of St Basil the Great. “So He became the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep, the first born of the dead ,” it became impossible for the Lord of life to be bound by death. With this, Christ becomes ‘known’ to us as our Pascha, our Passover and most secure Path and Guide from death to life!
With the Feast of the Resurrection, Christ’s Church reminds all of us wounded by sin, that we are created and called by God to more sublime goals and actions. That eternity is most natural in a grace filled embrace and life with God!
For this reason brothers and sisters, let us not be surprised that the forces of evil create a hell on earth between people. Through worries, stress, quarrels and divisions they seek to preoccupy us and tie us to matters transient, that our mind, heart, thoughts and feelings be paralysed for God, for that which is eternal.
Observing what is happening in society and the world, we notice with what speed things are changing. Without pause, God’s order is cancelled and replaced with some so called new order, which in essence and in its operation is simply disorder, anti-order! In this process a new person is created, in essence an empty shell, stripped not only of its inner form, essence and appearance, but also in its outward expression. Such a disfigured person is ridiculed and degraded by the demons, but for God, one single tragedy in the limitless abyss and collapse of His rational image.
However, let us not be despondent, rather let us be emboldened by Christ’s Resurrection in which man is gifted the strength and power to overcome all hell, all sorrow, all illness, every crisis and all death.
Let us, in the words of St Paul, rejoice again and again dear brothers and sisters in the joy of the Resurrection. Let us bring this joy into our home, amongst our nearest and dearest and to the world beyond. That the joy of Christ’s Resurrection might touch and enlighten all hearts, Dear parents, let us bring our children to Christ, let us not rob them of a relationship with Him. For that relationship is most important, most beneficial and most salvific. Bring them to our holy churches, that they may feel and experience the love, comfort and strength which is in God.
We pray this Easter that across Australia and New Zealand, we might jointly greet each other as brothers and sisters in the Paschal embrace and unity of St Sava’s Holy Church.
And let us today also remember our brothers and sisters on crucified Kosovo and Metohija who live in ceaseless fear and are deprived of freedom, suffering daily terror and violence. May the Resurrected Lord Christ grant them all His Paschal comfort and boundless joy.
Wishing you once again dear spiritual children, every blessing from the Resurrected Christ, I greet you all; our dear clergy, monastics, faithful and all people of good will, with the most joyous greeting:
Christ is Risen – Truly He is Risen!
Bishop of Australia and New Zealand
The Serbian Orthodox Church