Paschal Epistle of Right Reverend Bishop of Yarraville and Australia Andrei
Beloved in the Lord, Fathers, brothers and sisters,
Christ is Risen!
“Now all things have been filled with light, both heaven and earth and those beneath the earth,” – we sing in the Paschal canon. Christ, the true Light, descended into hell to fill with Himself all that exists, and thus the underworld was filled with light. May our hearts be filled with the Light of Christ and let the dark and cold of indifference and self-interest be driven away. Where there is Christ, there is peace and quiet joy.
The Lord speaks in the Holy Gospel: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life” (Jn.8,12). The light is Christ Himself. To walk in the light is to live in Christ.
Christ therefore died and rose again to renew us, to make us partakers of His kingdom, that we might become able to live in Him, that we might become His abode and members of His Body.
The word Pascha means “passage, transition.” In the Old Testament, this meant the passage of the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land. In the New Testament, Pascha is the transition from the domain of the devil, the realm of darkness and sin, to the Kingdom of Light, to life with God.
As we witness sinful darkness gathering ever stronger in the world, we must awaken from our complacent slumber and strive to draw nearer to God.
The world triumphantly and blatantly rejects God, defiantly breaking His laws and recognizing in the world only the material. However, the most reliable sign of the end times is not so much the profusion of sinful darkness in the world, but rather the diminishment of spiritual light. The churches of World Orthodoxy have long been on the path of apostasy, but our condition is no less lamentable.
We have become the subject of mockery, the laughingstock of those who have retreated from the truth. For what reason? Is it because we are small, and our temples are poor? Not at all. We have become a laughing stock because we have lost the essential attribute of the disciples of Christ — love. In our case, paradoxically, the sign of a True Church has become not love, but something quite opposite, voluntary self-isolation.
There are currently some 16 groups of Russian True Orthodox, who not only do not share communion with one and other, but instead condemn each other. We have become that which was prophesied by the Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel: “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). Love has grown cold while suspicion, distrust and enmity have all increased.
Where there is no humility, simplicity, sincerity, peace, how can there be a True Church? Where is Christ when there is no love, where there is no desire to communicate with fellow Orthodox Christians? Love seeks communication and suffers if it is interrupted. Love unites, while the spirit of a lust for power, self-interest and hypocrisy separates people.
True Orthodoxy is found not in words, not in loud slogans, but in a life lived according to the teachings of Christ, in the attainment of the Holy Spirit. The mark of a true Church is found in love not hate, in communion with the like-minded, and not in artificial disunion.
The Church has always convened Councils to decide theological issues and to regulate church life. The current woeful state of the Church urgently demands such a Council, and this is acknowledged by many. From our flock we hear calls to abandon this senseless war of all against all.
With the blessing of Archbishop Andronik, the Chairman of our Diaspora District, we will soon begin preparations for the All-Diaspora Council of Unification. Who among the current groups of Russian Orthodoxy will respond to our call? Or will we experience ourselves the words of the Gospel: “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Math. 20,16)?
We sing in the Paschal hymns: “This is the day of Resurrection, let us be illumined by the feast; let us embrace each other; let us call brothers even those that hate us, and forgive all by the Resurrection of Christ”.
Christ is Risen!
Yarraville, Pascha 2018