Paschal Epistle of Bishop Andrei of Yarraville, Australia and New Zealand
Beloved in Christ fathers, brothers and sisters,
Christ is Risen!
This year, the Feast of Pascha is completely exceptional, because we are deprived of the opportunity of celebrating it in our churches. We are deprived of that, which actually is the substance of the Feast of Pascha – partaking of Holy Communion on Easter night.
The word “Pascha” is applied in the Holy Scripture in a number of meanings.
One of these meanings – “Paschal Lamb”, which according to the Law of Moses had to be sacrificed on the day of the Old Testament Pascha (Passover). This Paschal Lamb was the representation of the Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who takes upon Himself the sins of the world: “Christ our Pascha, was sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7).
On His last Paschal supper in His life on earth, our Lord Jesus Christ established the mystery of the Eucharist – the greatest Mystery of Christianity.
The Lord said to His disciples about this Last Supper: “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Pascha with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). Since it was on the Last Supper that the Mystery of Eucharist was established, which will be performed “until He comes”, i.e. until His Second Coming.
Christ’s Resurrection is depicted mysteriously in the Eucharist. Lifeless bread that is offered on the altar table instantly becomes alive and life-giving Christ’s Body through the action of the Holy Spirit. Isn’t this a clear depiction of Resurrection? That’s why after the transformation of the Holy Gifts, the priest reads the Paschal hymns: “Having beheld the
Resurrection of Christ”, “Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem”, “O great and most sacred Pascha, Christ!”.
Likewise, at the end of the Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great, the priest prays: “We have seen the image of Thy Resurrection, we have been filled with Thine endless life, we have been gladdened with Thine inexhaustible bounties, which do Thou be pleased to vouchsafe unto us all in the age to come”.
Nothing occurs in the world without God’s will. Sorrowful as this may be of being denied the opportunity to participate in the church service, we can turn this to our spiritual advantage: let us repent that we didn’t sufficiently value this gift from God. How often we missed church services and instead preferring entertainments and idleness! How many of us on Easter night, without waiting for the end of the service, rushed home to their festive meal, neglecting the communion of the true Paschal Lamb.
Presently, when we are denied in receiving Holy Communion, let our desire to be united with Christ grow bigger and bigger, so that we may exclaim from the depth of our hearts: “Lord, we too are desirous to eat this Pasha with You on the night of Your Resurrection. Do not deprive us of our communion with You for our unworthiness”.
“O great and most sacred Pascha, Christ! O Wisdom, and Word of God, and Power! Grant us more perfectly to partake of Thee, in the unending day of Thy kingdom”.
I congratulate everyone with the Great Feast of Pascha. May the Lord fill our hearts with Paschal joy, which will eclipse our worries and sorrows.
CHRIST IS RISEN!
Melbourne. Easter 2020.