Holy Pascha 1998


By the mercy of God Archbishop of Constantinople
New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch:
unto the entire plentitude of the Church
Grace, Mercy and Peace from Christ our Risen Saviour

"Let all partake of the banquet of faith!
Let all enjoy the riches of goodness!"

Beloved Brethren and Most Dear Children in Christ,

Now that we have "completed the soul-profiting Fast of the Forty Days" and arrived at the glorious day of the Resurrection, we desired to address unto you festal words of joyful consolation. However, as we drew near to the catechetical homily of our predecessor, St. John Chrysostom, we were overwhelmed by the flood of his perpetual light, such as we feel when all the stars in the heavens disappear at the rising of the sun.

This heavenly man and earthly angel, who celebrated the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist on the sacred altar of this all-venerable See on that light-bearing night of the Resurrection of the Lord, literally was taken captive by the joy of the Resurrection, and became a vessel moved by God Himself. For this reason, it was not him, but the Spirit Who spoke through him.

The catechetical homily is not a work of human artifice, but an outburst of incomparable joy that the Lord is Risen and a torrential flood of heavenly light. "Grace shining forth from his mouth like a beacon" has set ablaze the lamp of the Great Church. It has at once enlightened the Church of Constantinople and the oikoumene, for His Golden Preaching is manifest forever throughout every Church.

This catechetical homily is the one Homily of the Resurrection, for all humanity and for all the world. For wherever the Resurrection of the Lord is celebrated, in every Orthodox Church, in every language and to every people, this inexhaustible and remarkably brief resurrectional homily is heard being read again and again.

It instructs our hearing. It gladdens our hearts. It surpasses our expectations. It abolishes our fears. It causes our grieving to cease. It brings joy. It conveys forgiveness. It rewards those who have labored from the first hour. And it does not scorn those who have arrived at the eleventh. Finally, it calls to all of us: those who have fasted, and those who have not; to those who have practiced self-restraint and to the slothful, that we might all honour the day. He who listens attentively is amazed with the boldness and daring of this most holy Church father, but the answer lies in the saint’s life and conduct.

Since as he himself fasted, practised ascetic discipline, and sacrificed himself for the sake of the Risen One and his brothers; since he knew far and away above every human conception the love of God; since he was worthy of divine grace and was replete with the Holy Spirit; he became a god by grace. He loved his brethren according to the likeness of God. He understood how much weaker brethren suffered and what they were losing due to their slothfulness and negligence. For this reason he is bold, and behaves as a wise teacher of divine things. He speaks the language of the age to come. He shows forth the secret and hidden things of the love of God. And finally, surpassing every human thought and righteousness, it outlines relationships. It abolishes condemnation. It calls all into joy.

"Let all partake of the banquet of faith! Let all enjoy the riches of goodness".

This is the faith of the Church, the openness of love, the power of the Resurrection. The catechetical homily teaches us the truth and shows us love. It reveals to us that the truth of faith is the revelation of divine love. And without the cross of love, we cannot know the truth of the Resurrection.

The divine Chrysostom speaks with such boldness because he loves. For he has seized the furthest edge of the Resurrection. And he beholds the vision of a paradise of joy and the salvation of his brethren, for whom Christ died and rose again. For this reason, today is the chief feast of the Orthodox Church, as it is the death of Hades and the destruction of the enemy. The crowning joy in the life of the Christian is their sharing in the banquet of faith with all of the saints, where the riches of His goodness invites all of us to rejoice. However, there are many who do not partake of this universal joy. And this is so not because they are not invited for all are invited but because they have not yet learned to love. They are not able to love, because they do not consider that the most sublime joy to partake of the of the riches of His goodness, the limitless love for all humankind of the Risen Lord.

For God rewards through love and reproves through love. Love created all things in the beginning. And love will judge all things at the end. The Lord’s Resurrection is the manifestation of the triumph of the love of God. The catechetical homily of our father among the saints, John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinoplecontinually inspires and empowers the whole Orthodox Church like a divine gift. And it explains why the humble Phanar is a place of theology and why the glory of the Great Church is the Cross.

For is it is people who are humble and contrite, people of love and people of the Cross these are the ones who always possess the joy of the Resurrection. There have been tens of thousands of such Christians in the past in the Orthodox Church, and they continue to this day. Among those who hold this shining place are those who bear the cross of asceticism and follow the monastic way of life, especially those on the Holy Mountain of Athos. Throughout the unceasing march of the centuries, even to this very day, they keep the feast in such places as the Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegiacal Monastery of Xenophon, where there is a thousand years of continuous spiritual life. All of these people, who have served from ages past in this sacred monastery and who continue the good fight today, on the Holy Mountain and throughout the whole world, partake of the heavenly mysteries. They know the sure and fast freedom of being children of God. They partake of the banquet of faith and the riches of His goodness.

And when they commune of the sacred and spiritual Altar, they receive the Body and Blood of the Risen One "unto faith unashamed, love unfeigned and full abundance of wisdom". Let us imitate their way of life by our love and our willingness to carry the Cross. For, since one day all that is will cease to be. All human achievements will pass away. The powers of heaven will be shaken and that which shall remain as the light that never wanes, the salvation of all, is the event of the Resurrection, the triumph of divine love in truth.

Truly the Lord is Risen! And life is shared abundantly in heaven and throughout the earth!

Unto Christ our God Who is Risen from the dead, be glory, honor and dominion, unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Holy Pascha, 1998
Your fervent supplicant before God
+Bartholomew of Constantinople

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