Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York

To Join the Suffering is the Work of the Church

Paschal Epistle of His Eminence HILARION,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad

Emi­nent Broth­er Arch­pas­tors, Hon­or­able Fathers, Dear Broth­ers and Sis­ters:

Christ is Risen!

With a sense of jubi­la­tion in the Lord, the Vic­tor over evil, hell and death, I greet you all on this lumi­nous night of the Matins and Litur­gy of the Pascha of Christ, this “feast of faith” which the great Chrysos­tom exhorts us to rel­ish! Con­grat­u­la­tions with the Bright Res­ur­rec­tion of Christ!

The grace-filled pow­er of Great Lent and Holy Pascha unites us all, ele­vates, illu­mines, soft­ens and broad­ens our souls, which dur­ing these holy days are revealed in their finest degrees. Still, no mat­ter how much we have strived to seclude our­selves with­in the cells of our hearts, mind­ful­ly heed­ing the touch­ing hymns sung dur­ing Great Lent and Pas­sion Week, that which is unfold­ing in the land of Kievan Rus’ – a land so dear to us – force­ful­ly encroach­es into our lives. We, as Ortho­dox Chris­tians, can­not remain indif­fer­ent when mem­bers of one and the same Local Church gaze at each oth­er through the sights of auto­mat­ic weapons; we can­not remain indif­fer­ent when our broth­ers and sis­ters, deprived of shel­ter, become refugees, as once were the founders of our own Russ­ian Church Abroad.

Our inabil­i­ty to remain indif­fer­ent is expressed first and fore­most in our fer­vent prayers for the restora­tion of peace, lift­ed up dur­ing the Divine Ser­vices in the parish­es of our Russ­ian Church Abroad. And at this moment, as we wor­ship Christ the Giv­er of Life, we turn towards His Beat­i­tude Met­ro­pol­i­tan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the arch­pas­tors, pas­tors, and the mul­ti­tude of the flock of the per­se­cut­ed Ukrain­ian Ortho­dox Church, and fer­vent­ly implore that they, and all those who with wea­ried hearts are tor­ment­ed by the present tragedy, may expe­ri­ence that which is hymned in the Paschal night­time, as we sing out: “O Pascha, thou art the ran­som from sor­row!” May “this cho­sen and holy day” be a con­so­la­tion and joy, an out­pour­ing of mer­cy, aid, and Divine strength for all!

O God, our God, grant that the “uni­ty of the Spir­it in the bond of peace” (Eph­esians 4:3) may reign among our Ortho­dox peo­ples, that we, not falling into despair, may over­come all tribu­la­tions, dis­cord and con­flicts “through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37), so that “love, joy, peace, long­suf­fer­ing, gen­tle­ness, good­ness, faith, meek­ness and tem­per­ance” (Gala­tians 5:22–23) may be restored among us anew.

Now, as hos­til­i­ty, anger and hatred destroy the con­cord and broth­er­hood between nations and bring our sin­ful world to the thresh­old of hell, it is not the place of the Church to ren­der polit­i­cal ver­dicts or take upon our­selves the task of seek­ing out those respon­si­ble for what is hap­pen­ing in the Ukrain­ian land. It is the work of the Church to join the suf­fer­ing — not only in prayer, but in deed. Of this, our Lord the Chief Pas­tor instruct­ed us plain­ly in the Gospel read­ing of the Sun­day of the Dread Judg­ment (cf. Matthew 25:31–46).

This is why, begin­ning already in 2014, we have been offer­ing help to those suf­fer­ing in south­east­ern Ukraine; and since Feb­ru­ary of this year, when the new hos­til­i­ties began, the dio­ce­ses and parish­es of the Russ­ian Church Abroad, our Fund for Assis­tance, and our oth­er eccle­si­as­ti­cal-social orga­ni­za­tions have been respond­ing with kind hearts, vig­or­ous­ly and gen­er­ous­ly, to this ter­ri­ble cat­a­stro­phe. May the Lord save you all for your sac­ri­fi­cial labors! Such con­crete help pre­vents us from becom­ing “salt that has lost its fla­vor” (Matthew 5:13), and shows that we can and must become more involved in the con­cil­iar work of build­ing the Church. We, as God’s peo­ple, scat­tered through­out the entire world, have many gifts and tal­ents with which we can serve not only Him, Who with His Most-Pure Blood per­fect­ed our sal­va­tion, but can also serve His Holy Church and our neigh­bor. So let us not grow weak in spir­it or fall into despair, but “let us com­mit our­selves and one anoth­er and all our life unto Christ our God!”

May Pascha, won­drous and sweet­ly fra­grant, warm cold hearts and unite us all! May the excla­ma­tion “Christ is Risen,” which for­ev­er evokes trep­i­da­tion among those who have depart­ed from the Father’s house, remind us that we, as Ortho­dox Chris­tians, are chil­dren of our Lord and Sav­ior, Jesus Christ, Who Rose on the third day and with Whom and in Whom we shall also be res­ur­rect­ed for the life of the age to come. Amen.

With love in the Res­ur­rect­ed Christ, I ask for your holy prayers,

Met­ro­pol­i­tan of East­ern Amer­i­ca and New York,
First Hier­ar­ch of the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church Out­side of Russia

Pascha of the Lord 2022