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 in Christ the Risen Lord, and from us hierarchical blessings.

“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:20-22)

Very Reverend Fathers, Beloved Faithful,

Christ is risen!

We give glory to God that He has permitted us once again to utter these words that proclaim to everyone the Resurrection of Christ, the miracle that changed the destiny of mankind and of the world, the wonder that revealed the victory of life over sin, suffering, and death, and man’s possibility to pass from this life to eternal life, as St. Paul the Apostle tells us: “And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power” (1 Cor. 6:14).

Together we have gone through the sorrowful days of the Holy Week of the Lord’s Passion that we might be able to proclaim, on the morning of the Resurrection, the miracle of the Lord’s rising from the grave. Thus it is proper that we should reflect now on the meaning of the Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ the Savior.

The Holy Gospels represent these events as fulfilling the Savior’s word, not understood by the Holy Apostles: “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (Matt. 16:21, Mark 8:31, Luke 9:22). St. Cyril of Alexandria shows the meaning of the Passion of the One without passions: They took the Giver of Life to death. And this was done for us, through the divine power and economy that is above all thought... For the passion of Christ was transformed into a means of victory over death, and the Lord’s death was made the beginning of the renewal of mankind unto incorruptibility and new life. Bearing on His shoulders the wood upon which He would be crucified, He goes forward, being condemned from before to death and bearing this judgment upon Himself only for us. For He took on the condemnation which rightfully hung over sinners, on the basis of the Law. For He was made accursed for us, for “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,” as it was written (Gal. 3:13). 1 The One Who descended from heaven, the Son of God, in Whose image man was created, the One Who humbled Himself taking the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7), accepted to the end to take on Himself the human condition. Adam’s sin meant alienation from God, estrangement from the Creator and fountain of life, which brought about death. Instead of abundant life, man came under the condemnation of death. And in order that death might no longer rule, for the healing of the condemnation, Christ, the God-Man, accepted crucifixion on the wood of the cross: He Who did not know sin was cursed for us, that He might deliver us from the ancient curse.

Through His sacrifice and death on the cross, He shows us how much He loves us. Through this suffering, which brings salvation to all mankind, Christ proves to us that He tore down the dividing wall between us and the Father, in the words of St. Cyril of Alexandria: After all these things against Christ the Savior were accomplished and He has given His life for us, from now on those who worship Christ will be enriched in all wisdom, in all knowledge, and in all words, receiving the knowledge of His mystery untroubled and free from any shadow. Although Christ was in the grave in His body, with His soul He descended into Hades in order to free those held under the power of death. The descent into Hades is an event of cosmic importance, as the Holy Fathers teach us: the most pure body of the Lord was placed into the earth as a bright beacon, and his unstoppable radiance and mighty splendor drive out the darkness that had reigned in hell and enlightened the ends of the earth... Shining unto the ends of the earth, the striking radiance of the Divinity mortified death and hell... And now everything: heaven, earth, and the nethermost parts have received the light of the serene glory of the Most Holy Trinity. By the warmth of this Divine Light is man, the world, and all creation quickened, celebrating and rejoicing with inexpressible exaltation.

The One Who was crucified, dead, and laid in a new grave was not held by death. The Giver of Life, Life in His nature, could not undergo corruption. He who submitted to the laws of our nature and took upon Himself the ultimate consequence of sin, death, gave life to the nature which needed life, our human nature. We confess this together with St. Basil the Great: [He] rose again on the third day, making a way for all flesh unto the resurrection from the dead, for it was not possible that the Author of life should be held by corruption, that He might be the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep, the first-born from the dead, that He might be in all things the first among all. And together with St. John Chrysostom: O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown... Christ is risen, and life reigns.

Most Reverend Fathers, Beloved Faithful,

Sharing these explanations by the Holy Fathers, we should understand that the Savior’s Death is the source of our death unto sin, and His Resurrection the source of our resurrection with Christ unto eternity. St. Paul the Apostle assures us of this: If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:1- 3). The proclamation of the Lord’s Resurrection should be for every Christian the source of a different life, lived together with the Risen Lord for us and for our salvation. The one who believes in the Resurrection becomes an imitator of the Risen One, no longer being held by sin and death, desiring heavenly things: Do as He also did, love what He loved, and finding in yourselves the grace of God, love instead your nature in Him, for as He becoming poor did not lose His riches, humbling Himself did not diminish His glory, and dying did not lose eternity, so You too should walk in His steps: despising earthly things that you may gain heavenly things.

I urge you all, priests and faithful, to share with our brothers, in these days of the Resurrection, this hope of our resurrection with Christ. Proclaiming to one another that Christ is risen! may we do so with our soul full of hope that the Risen Lord will bring peace and good understanding to our world as well!

I embrace you all in Christ the Risen Lord and wish you health and joyful holidays!

Truly He is risen!

Your brother in prayer to God,

† Metropolitan NICOLAE

Chicago, the Feast of the Lord’s Resurrection, 2024

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