May 1, 2016
Paschal Epistle of His Holiness Kyrill, Patriarch of Moscow & All Russia to the Archpastors, Pastors, Deacons, Monastics & All the Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,
 that we should be called the sons of God.
- I John 3:1

Your Graces the archpastors, all-honorable priests, God-loving monks and nuns,
dear brothers and sisters:


With these joyous and life-affirming words I greet you, my beloved, from the depths of my heart and congratulate you all on the great and saving feast of Pascha.

The Church calls this day "the Feast of feasts and the Festival of festivals" through the lips of one of Her great ecumenical teachers, the Holy Hierarch Gregory the Theologian. Herein is contained a profound spiritual meaning, for "Pascha is as far exalted above all triumphs – not only those which are merely human and earthly, but also those which are of Christ Himself and are made perfect for Him – as the sun is exalted above the stars" (Oration 45: On Holy Pascha). The glorious Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, which has become the most important event in the history of the salvation of the human race, contains the very meaning and profound essence of our Faith, the heart and mighty power of the Christian message to the world. In these days, what we preach may be encapsulated in these three words: "Christ is risen! In saying this, what more can I say? All has been said!" proclaims the Holy Hierarch Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow (Homily for Holy Pascha, 18 April 1826).

The history of humanity after the fall of Adam is the history of the unceasing struggle of good with evil. Having shown disobedience to the Creator, people welcomed sin into their lives and into the world, and with it suffering and disease, corruption and death. Yet, most importantly, sin separated people from God, Who did not create evil and Who is foreign to any falsehood. Not a single righteous man has ever been able to overcome this tragic division, this great spiritual abyss, as it is impossible to do so purely through human endeavor. And so it was that, as the Holy Hierarch Gregory the Theologian says, "we needed an incarnate God, Who would die that we might live" (Oration 45: On Holy Pascha).

In other words, Christ’s Resurrection has become that breach into eternity by which human limitation has been overcome and the thirst to be united with God has been satisfied. Pascha is the triumph of the Creator’s boundless love for people, "for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

And yet, what does it mean to celebrate Pascha in a world weighed down by pain and suffering, exhausted by war and conflict, replete with hatred and enmity? What does it mean to sing "trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life," when death remains the evident culmination of the earthly life of each one of us? Undoubtedly, Pascha does not abolish the real presence of death in the world, but now human pain and the tragedy of our earthly life are overcome by the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, Who has granted to us, His disciples and followers, unconquerable hope for attainment of eternal life. Death is henceforth for us Christians no longer a parting, but the joyful encounter and longed for reunification with God.

Christ, "the first fruit of them that slept" (I Cor. 15:20), has shown us the only possible way of overcoming sin and death. This is the way of love. And it is to this love that we are called to bear witness before the whole world. And we are called in the first instance by the example of our own lives, for "by this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).

Love, which according to the Apostle Paul, "is the bond of perfectness" (Col. 3:14), is the loftiest and greatest of Christian virtues. When we enter eternity and are granted to see the Lord Himself, our faith will be transformed into knowledge, and our hope in salvation with be turned into reality by God’s mercy. And yet, love never fails (I Cor. 13:8) and does not change.

As the Holy Hierarch Ignatius (Bryanchaninov) so wonderfully writes, "the perfection of Christianity lies in the perfect love of one’s neighbor" (Ascetic Essays: On Love of One’s Neighbor). What does "perfect love" mean? It is a love that extends to a love for strangers, for ill-wishers and even for enemies. It is a sacrificial love which transcends all human reasoning, as it cannot be contained by the framework of everyday worldly logic. We can attain it only through great spiritual endeavors, which evoke the grace of God that grants to us the ability to respond to hatred with love and to evil with good.

It is precisely this love which Christ has shown to us when for our salvation He endured terrible humiliation, suffering on the Cross and agonizing death. By His all-conquering love, which fills all things, hades was destroyed to its foundations, and finally the gates of paradise were opened to all humanity. In all of life’s circumstances, we are called upon to remember that the powers of evil are indeed illusory and not so great, for they cannot compare with the powers of love and virtue, the sole source of which is God. Let us recall, too, that the best response to and the most effective means of resisting sin and falsehood is our sincere prayer, lifted up from the depths of our heart, and mainly prayer which is communal, offered up in church at the divine services, and even more so communion of the Body and Blood of the Savior in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

In experiencing today the great Paschal joy and contemplating with piety and fear Christ the Giver of Life, Who is risen from the tomb, let us share this saving message with those near and far, so that they, too, may see the ineffable radiance of Divine Love and. together with us, "bless and glorify the all-honorable and majestic name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

May the saving light of Christ’s Resurrection, which surpasses all human comprehension, immutably illumine our life’s path, enlightening and comforting us, making us participants and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Rejoice, my beloved, for


Patriarch of Moscow & All Russia

The Pascha of Christ
2016 A.D.