Paschal Encyclical of the Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops Beyond the Borders of Ukraine
“Shine forth, shine forth, O New Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord has shone upon you...”
(Canticle 9 Paschal Canon of St. John of Damascus)
To the Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, and Beloved Youth of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,
“CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!”
Today millions of people – elderly and young, healthy and ailing, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, together raise their voices and, from the depths of their soul, glorify God on High and greet each other exuberantly: “Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!”
We are united in joy because Christ is resurrected and has granted us eternal life. Christ is resurrected and, having shattered the fetters of hades, has freed mankind from eternal death. This is the joyous “Good News” which the Risen Christ sends into the world with His Holy Apostles and all Christians to witness and preach so that “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn 3:15)
We are united in faith in Him Who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jn 14:6) The Resurrection of Christ is the irrefutable proof that He is the Son of God – not just a teacher, prophet or preacher. His victory over death encourages – even compels us – to follow His life’s road and to accept His teachings as Truth. Carrying out His commandments, we believe that the Risen Christ shall lead us out of this corrupt earthly life to a heavenly eternity.
We are united in hope that, despite how many times we may fall and get up, despite how many times we succumb to temptations and sin, Christ’s limitless and unconditional love for His creation – which He showed on the Cross by saying to the thief, “today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43) – shall be shown to us following our repentance. Our hope is strengthened by listening to the words in the Catechetical Address of St. John Chrysostom during the Easter Matins, “...enter all in the joy of your Lord... Rich and poor together rejoice... let no one be saddened by sins, for forgiveness has shone from the tomb...”
We are united in love which Christ demonstrated to us by taking our sins upon Himself. He bore them to Golgotha, and He suffered, died and arose for us. We show our love for Christ when we keep His commandment of love, “…love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:34-35)
Dear Brothers and Sisters, abiding in the joy of the Risen Christ and armed with faith, hope and love, we are called to spread unity and peace among our family members, throughout our nation and throughout the world.
In this special year as the Ukrainian Nation commemorates the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’-Ukraine by St. Volodymyr, we ought to bring our gifts to God in gratitude that, through the Risen Christ, we have survived over 1000 years, have overcome terrible trials and have lived to see an independent Ukraine and important, visible steps towards Ukrainian Orthodox unity. Through the Risen Christ and our tireless and dedicated efforts, we can overcome all difficulties in order to come closer to the ideal He preached. “Let us purify our senses and in the unapproachable light of the Resurrection, we shall see Christ shining forth, and we shall clearly hear Him saying: ‘Rejoice!’ as we sing a song of victory.” (Tropar 1 Canticle I of the Paschal Canon of St. John of Damascus).
Once, Christ was brought gifts – myrrh, frankincense and gold. Today, our gifts for Christ should be – unity, peace and cooperation.
While calling on all to lead a Christ-like life, on the occasion of the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we greet the entire Ukrainian People in their native Ukraine, in the USA, in Canada, in Western Europe, in Australia, in New Zealand, and in South America, and wish their sons and daughters peace and joy, faith, hope and love.
“Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life.”
With Archpastoral Blessings,
† YURIJ, Metropolitan, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
† ANTONY, Metropolitan, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Locum Tenens Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the Diaspora
† IOAN, Archbishop, Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the Diaspora
† JEREMIAH, Archbishop, Ukrainian Orthodox Eparchy of Brazil and South America
† ILARION, Bishop, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
† ANDRIY, Bishop, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
† DANIEL, Bishop, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA