by the mercies of God
Archbishop of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of the United States of America and Metropolitan of the Romanian Orthodox Metropolia of the Americas
To the Beloved Clergy and Orthodox Christians of our Holy Archdiocese,
peace and unwavering hope from Christ the Risen Lord,
and from us hierarchical blessings.
“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Most Reverend Fathers, Beloved Faithful,
Christ is risen!
On this morning of the Lord’s Resurrection, we hold in our hands lighted candles that pierce the darkness, proclaiming the victory of light over darkness, of the life that comes from God over the darkness of hate, injustice, enmity and death. The candle we hold is not just some liturgical object, but it is the symbol of the truth we proclaim, that of the triumph of life over death through the Savior’s Resurrection. By it we express the experience that the darkness of the human condition has been pierced by the light that shines from the tomb, that Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and granting life to those in the tombs.
What is this darkness that seeks to overcome the light? These days we probably understand better than at other times that it is the darkness of our own sinfulness and of the ignoring of the life of our neighbor, who is, just like us, the image of God and a human being redeemed by the blood of Christ on the Cross. It is the darkness of the minds of some of our fellow human beings, who even bear the name of Christians, who do not treasure life and believe they can solve the world’s problems with weapons in hand. It is the darkness of enmity and of conflict among human persons. It is the tragedy of the fear of death which has held us in slavery all our lives (see Hebrews 2:15). Christ has freed us from all of these things through His death and Resurrection!
In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind, St. John the Evangelist tells us. And St. John Chrysostom explains: “Christ’s word of truth shone upon falsehood and made it disappear. By suffering death He conquered death and brought to life those who had been held by it. Since then, neither death nor falsehood can any longer overcome the light which shines upon all.”
The life which was the light of mankind at the beginning of creation conquered death which appeared to have dominion over all of creation. The songs from Resurrection morning proclaim this trampling of death. St. John Chrysostom says, “Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has delivered us from death….” And the same holy father continues, “Today the bonds of death and the victory of hades have disappeared. Today is the fitting time to again speak those prophetic words: Where, O death, is your sting? Where, O hades, is your victory? Today our Master shattered the gates of bronze and conquered the very face of death. But why do I speak about the face of death? He changed the very name of death. Now death is no longer called death, but repose and sleep.” From Adam to Christ, the history of man was marked by estrangement from God, which brought death. Life ends at the grave, recording the failure of a human existence which has been awaiting its salvation. Salvation was brought by the Resurrection of Christ, transforming death into repose, that is, into a passage toward a life of communion with God and expectation of the eternity of the Kingdom.
Today is the proper time, St. John Chrysostom tells us, for all to exclaim those words spoken by the blessed David: Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise? For behold, the desired and saving feast has come to us, the day of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the basis of peace, the cause of reconciliation, the ceasing of wars, the trampling of death, the defeat of the devil.” The doxastikon of the Praises intoned at the Resurrection Matins speaks to us of this reconciliation between brothers: It is the day of the Resurrection. Let us shine brightly for the festival, and also embrace one another. Brethren, let us say even to those who hate us, “Let us forgive everything for the Resurrection.” And thus let us cry aloud, “Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs He has granted life.” What can cause us “to forgive all things on the Resurrection” and to consider all our fellow humans brothers? Undoubtedly the belief that Christ is risen. And if Christ has risen we too will be resurrected, for as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
We cannot but seek to receive this proclamation and be illumined with the understanding of the fact that our entire Christian life is verified by our manifesting this light. The enmity, hatred, and fear in our world will not be eliminated except through the proclamation of the joy of the Resurrection by every one of us who call ourselves Christians, understanding that from us the changing of the face of the world can begin. We all pray at the Divine Liturgy for the peace from above, for the peace of the whole world, for the stability of the Holy Churches of God, and we add litanies for deliverance from all injustice, oppression and persecution, and for the cessation of war. Christians who pray fervently can bring this peace through a pure countenance, through good deeds, through tolerance toward all, for Christ has risen for all.
I urge you all, clergy and faithful, to pray fervently for peace and to witness during these days to our belief that death has been conquered by Christ through the Resurrection. May this good news be for all of us a motive for joy and hope that the trials of the world will not overcome the light that shines from the tomb!
I embrace you in Christ the Risen Lord and I wish you health and a joyful feast!
Truly He is risen!
Your Brother in Prayer to God,
† Metropolitan NICOLAE
Chicago, the Feast of the Lord’s Resurrection, 2022