Church of the T.O.C. of Greece
Sacred Archdiocese of Athens
8 Botsaris Street
121 31 Persteri, Athens

PASCHA, 2008

PASCHAL MESSAGE

of the Primate of the T.O.C. Church of Greece
His Beatitude Archbishop Nikolaos

To the Christ-Named Pleroma of the Church

"Now are all things filled with light, Heaven and earth and the nethermost regions.

Let all creation, therefore, celebrate the arising of Christ, whereby it is established."


My Venerable Brother Bishops,
Honerable Presbyterium,
Pious Monastic Orders and
Blessed Christians:


The Light which shines forth from the Tomb, which until just a few hours ago held the Body of the God-Man Jesus, illumines not only the Heavens and the earth, but even the "nethermost regions," the very depths of Hades itself, from which the risen Redeemer has freed the souls of the righteous dead from ages past, by the "lightning-bolt of divinity."

Today, when the darkness of materialism, worship of the flesh, and of unbelief has covered almost everything, what would be more desirable than the pure, the sweet, the unwaning Light of the Risen Jesus Christ?  Yet this Light, which has the power to scatter and set aside the thick gloom of Hades, is prevented from reaching the hearts of unfaithful, materialistic and cynical men, who irrationally  prefer the darkness which hides their actions.

How is it possible for such a Light, for such a power, to be hindered by the will of ill-disposed people?  That which hinders it is man's freedom, his self-determination: this awesome gift which God gave to mankind, and which God Himself never forces, never sets aside.

It is nothing to wonder at if worldly-minded people turn away from the healthful and otherworldly Light of the Resurrection.  But when, as a responsible Shepherd of the Church, I notice such a condition threatening members of the mystical Body of the Church, then it is my duty to sound an alarm and to call everyone, regardless of rank and office, to arms so that we might confront this common enemy.  I say "common enemy," for just as when some disease threatens one member of a body, all members are in danger.

I take, therefore, the opportunity afforded me with this Paschal Message, to communicate with all of the members of our Church, and even with every well-disposed soul who is perhaps not of Her flock, and, as Archbishop, to send forth a message of unity and reconciliation toward every direction.

United, the Members of the Church acquire undefeatable power against every foe.  An enemy battles in vain against a united community of the faithful of a Church in which the Clergy and the Laity, shepherds and flock, each from his place and each according to his measure and calling, travel with Tradition and the God-inspired Sacred Canons as their guide and direction.  The bond of love, the alliance of common Faith and Confession, the co-suffering love for our neighbor, and the devotion in humility and obedience to the ideals of Orthodoxy, in conjunction with genuine and unfeigned works of Orthodoxy, render every attempt of our enemy, the man-killing devil, to harm the Church condemned to failure.

"We celebrate the death of death,
the destruction of Hades…"

His death upon the Cross, His descent into Hades, and His Resurrection from the Tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ has rendered useless all of the power of our enemy, the Devil.  His only power comes from that which he draws forth from our cooperation with his dark plans and deeds.  His great weapon - death - is dead.

Venerable Brethren, children beloved in the Lord:

This call to action which your Archbishop addresses to you comes from his heart.  I desire with the guileless desire of a father who wishes to see his family united and loving.

I ask with all the strength of my soul to see our Church as a brilliant light-house for the tempest-tossed world.  I want to see Her as a haven where those who have until now lived far from Christ and are in danger of the ship-wrecks of life might find rest.  I desire to see our Church whose Members live their Orthodoxy, and who manifest the power of our Confession, not in quarrels, not in seeking to lead, not in minutely noting the weaknesses of our neighbor, but rather in peacefulness, humility, and obedience, fortifying the weak in a spirit of moderation and condescension.

For then, my beloved children, then will be realized this triumphant verse of the Paschal Canon, and we will be able to chant it together with full hearts and heavenly harmony:

"Lift up thine eyes O Sion and behold!  For lo.
like divinely-radiant luminaries, from the West,
the North, the Sea, and the East, have Thy children
assembled unto Thee blessing Christ unto the ages."

I remain then, in the good hope that this invitation which comes from my heart will not fall on deaf ears, and praying for each of you the power from on high and the divine illumination that come from the God-receiving Tomb.

CHRIST IS RISEN!

TRULY HE IS RISEN!

Your fervent intercessor before our Lord Jesus Christ, Who suffered and arose from the Tomb,


The Archbishop

+NIKOLAOS

of Athens and All Greece