Archpastoral Letter For Pascha 2010
Prot. No. 197
Very Reverend Protopresbyters, Very Reverend and
Reverend Fathers, and beloved faithful of our God-saved Diocese:
IS RISEN! INDEED, HE IS RISEN!
"In Him was life, and the life was the light
of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not
comprehend it." (Gospel of Saint John
These glorious words of the Holy Apostle and
Evangelist John , which are read on this Great Day, the Day of the
Resurrection, reveal to us one of the most marvelous and awesome aspects of
this most festive celebration. Over and over again, we hear and sing of the
many references to LIGHT.
often associate lights and light with the feasts of the Nativity, the
Theophany, and the Transfiguration of
our Lord, this Paschal Feast is the greatest Feast of Light! The Golden Canon
of St. John of Damascus is replete with the theme of light: "This is the
day of Resurrection, BE ILLUMINED, O people..." (Ode 1, verse
1);" Let us purify our senses, and we shall behold Christ with the
inaccessible LIGHT of the Resurrection..." (Ode 1, verse 2);
"This days all things are filled with LIGHT, heaven and earth and
the lower regions..." (Ode 3, verse 1); "The souls bound in the
chains of hell, O Christ, pressed onward to the LIGHT..." (Ode 5,
verse 2); and "Truly worthy of triumphant celebration is this holy, RADIANT,
and saving night... on which the LIGHT ETERNAL SHONE FORTH
bodily from the tomb on all mankind..." (Ode 7, verse 4) are just a few of
them! St. John's
Gospel further enhances this theme of LIGHT! This is an exhilarating message
of hope to us Christians who are often subjected to and tempted by the darkness
of the world in which we live.
this contemporary parable: There was once a cave which lived under the ground,
as caves have the habit of doing. It had spent its life in darkness. It heard a
voice calling to it: "Come up into the light; come and see the
sunshine." The cave retorted: "I don't know what you mean; there
isn't anything but darkness." Finally the cave ventured forth and was surprised
to see light everywhere. Looking up to the sun, the cave said: "Come with
me and see the darkness." The sun asked: "What is darkness?" The
cave replied: "Come and see!" One day the sun accepted the
invitation. As it entered the cave, it said: "Now show me your darkness."
BUT THERE WAS NO DARKNESS!
is, where there is LIGHT, darkness cannot exist; it is wiped
out; it is obliterated! We all know that without light, we would not
be able to see anything; there would be no colors, no shapes, no beauty at all.
We would stumble and fall. And we are merely speaking of physical, material
light, light that is derived from the sun, the moon, and the stars. They,
however, are created lights, made by our omnipotent God.
spiritual light, the divine light of Christ God Himself is far more brilliant. You only need to
recall how the three disciples, Peter, James, and John, had to shield their
eyes when the Lord was transfigured before them on Mount Tabor.
And they viewed only a small glimpse of His glory! When Moses descended from Mount Sinai after his encounter with God, his face was
filled with the Divine Light; the Israelites could not bear to look upon him,
and so he had to wear a veil over his face. And they, too, viewed only a small
reflected glimpse of His glory! The Fathers of our Holy Church
teach us of the theological concept of the "Uncreated Light," that
is, the light of Divinity, unfathomably brighter than anything that we could
ever imagine or witness. It is a totally awesome, majestic, and powerful light;
the darkness cannot comprehend it or accept it; on the contrary, it is OVERCOME
scholars believe that it was this intense light of divinity that left behind an
image on the famed Shroud of Turin.
this Light of the Almighty that is miraculously revealed every year on Great
Saturday in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, when the current
patriarch enters the Tomb of Christ without any tangible means of making fire,
having first been searched thoroughly by the civil authorities, and is locked
inside. Within a short while, the burst of DIVINE LIGHT fills this
ancient Church and lights the candles that His Holiness holds in his hands as
he exits the Tomb. The LIGHT becomes FIRE,
which at first does not burn those who touch it.
Divine Light is also manifest in the icon of the Resurrection, the Descent of
our Lord Jesus Christ into Hades. Just as the light of the Christ Child pierces
the darkness of the cave, and just as the God-man, being baptized, radiates
upon the dark waters of the Jordan,
so even more does the LIGHT of CHRIST burst forth from the dark realm of
Death. The Messiah, Who reaches forth to raise up Adam and Eve and all of the
other righteous ones from their graves, is bathed in LIGHT, an almond-shaped
figure called a "mandorla;" this suggests a strong and powerful light that is beyond our comprehension.
Heaven penetrates the bowels of the earth with its light.
It is no
wonder that our Church does not depict the actual moment of our Lord's Rising,
because no human being could have borne it! The LIGHT OF CHRIST is too
intense for a human being to behold.
we need to be illumined by the light of Christ, Who called Himself the LIGHT
OF THE WORLD. We must invite Him in and let our hearts and souls, minds and
bodies, be flooded with it and transformed by it! Just as we need the light of
the sun to see and keep us alive, even more do we need the light of Christ to
see ourselves and our God clearly and honestly and give us the fullness of
life. No true Christian can live in the darkness!
our belief; that is our hope; that is the truth. No matter what type of
darkness invades our lives - illness, despair, loneliness, worries, enemies,
hatred, even death - nothing can survive the brilliant light of Christ! We
cannot live in the cave of darkness because Christ has obliterated it; He has
destroyed it by filling it with His own light.
and every one of you, especially upon this Feast of Feasts, be filled with the light
of the Resurrection of Christ. I pray that you will experience His light in
your lives and that you will go forth into the world and shine His Light upon
all of God's children, your brothers and sisters in His Name. Imparting upon
you my archpastoral blessing, I remain
sincerely yours in the risen Master,
+ Metropolitan NICHOLAS
This Sermon is to be read in lieu of
the homily at the Paschal Divine Liturgy April 4, 2010