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Paschal Letter for the Feast of the Resurrection 2009

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My Beloved, the Blessed Children of the Holy Church,

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Today, we rejoice in hope as we celebrate the Glorious Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the midst of today’s culture of despair, which is prevalent throughout the world, we as Christians nonetheless rejoice in hope. The Feast of the Resurrection is a source of everlasting joy and hope in the midst of an economic recession, unemployment, financial and social instability, and fear.

One of the great teachers of the Church, St. Gregory the Theologian, guides our reflections and meditations on the message of joy and hope in this, the Feast of feasts and the Festival of festivals. We celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection itself, not as an event still hoped for, but as one that has already occurred, uniting the world to itself.

The Feast of the Resurrection is the feast of our salvation, the feast of our liberation, the feast of our reconciliation, and the feast of our being like Christ.

A. The Feast of Our Salvation

We see how the Feast of the Resurrection is the feast of our salvation in this meditation from St. Gregory:

Today salvation has come to the world, to things visible and to things invisible.
Christ is risen from the dead; rise with Him.
Christ has returned to Himself; return.
Christ is freed from the tomb; be freed from the bonds of sin.
The gates of Hades are opened and death is destroyed, and the old Adam is put aside and the new is fulfilled.
If anyone in Christ is a new creation, be made new.

B. The Feast of Our Liberation

St. Gregory teaches us that the Feast of the Resurrection is the feast of our liberation from the slavery of sin when he says:

Today we have totally escaped Egypt and Pharaoh, and we have been freed from the clay and the brick-making. And nobody hinders us from celebrating a feast of exodus for the Lord our God and keeping feast “not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8).

C. The Feast of Our Reconciliation

St. Gregory further teaches us that the Feast of the Resurrection is the feast of our reconciliation with one another:

Let us be made brilliant by the Feast and embrace each other. Let us call brothers, even those who hate us, and much more those who have done everything out of love for us. Let us concede all things to the Resurrection. Let us grant pardon to each other.

D. The Feast of Our Becoming Like Christ

Finally, St. Gregory shows us that the Feast of the Resurrection is the feast of our becoming like Christ when he says, “Let us become like Christ, since Christ also became like us.” In another passage, he offers the following beautiful meditation:

Yesterday I was crucified with Christ, Today I am glorified with Him.
Yesterday I died with Him, Today I am made alive with Him.
Yesterday I was buried with Him, Today I rise with Him.
But let us make an offering to the One who died and rose again for us.
Let us offer our own selves, the possession most precious to God.
Let us give back to the Image that which is according to the Image.

My beloved, let us pray that our Lord may “fill our hearts with joy and gladness, that we, too, having sufficiency in everything always, may abound in every good deed.”

Let us pray for the peace of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Let us pray for the life of our beloved father, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, that God may keep him for us for many peaceful years.

Wishing you many happy returns,

Bishop Serapion

“Rejoicing in Hope” (Romans 12:12)

 

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