Thursday, May 6, 2021

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2021 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


Pascha 2021

Pastoral Encyclical

Hierotheos

by the mercy of God Bishop and Metropolitan

of the God-saved Sacred Metropolis of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

To the Clergy, Monks and Laity

of our Sacred Metropolis

Beloved children in the Lord,

Once again, God has found us worthy to celebrate the annual feast of the Resurrection of Christ, with the expectation that this event will mark our internal resurrection from spiritual necrosis, which we experience depending on the activity of the passions and our various tribulations.

After the Cross that each of us bears in various ways, comes the event of Christ's Resurrection to give us joy, hope, faith, certainty of Christ's victory over the problems we have.

On the night of the Resurrection, but also throughout the period of Pentecost, especially until the feast of the Ascension, we sing triumphantly the hymn "Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling death, and to those in the tombs granting life". However, and what is remarkable is that when this hymn is repeatedly chanted in the Church, the verses of two Psalms of David are proclaimed, in which he referred to in a prophetic way the Resurrection of Christ, by which Christ was victorious over His enemies and brought joy to the righteous.

I would like as a message of faith, hope and love to quote these four verses of David, making a short analysis as a small theological interpretation of the event of the Resurrection of Christ and of our own spiritual resurrection.

The first verse is: "Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Him flee from His face" (Ps. 67:2).

Enemies of God are, according to Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, the demons, who hate God and oppressed people before the coming of Christ to the world. Because no angel or man could help people and free them from the tyranny of the demons, that is why David asks God to intervene, to arise and scatter them in order that they may flee from His face all those who hate Him and tyrannize His creatures.

The verbs "let God arise" and "His enemies be scattered" and "flee", although they are formed in the imperative, nevertheless have a figurative meaning, which means that God should be resurrected and His enemies scattered and all those who hate Him should flee from being before Him. It is a powerful prayer of supplication for the liberation of people from the dynasty of demons, who are enemies of God.

The second verse is: "As smoke vanishes, let them vanish; as wax melts from the face of the fire" (Ps. 67:2).

This verse is a continuation of the previous one and shows how what we ask from God will happen. The Prophet David uses two images from nature: the smoke, when it rises in the air, after a while dissolves; and the candle, when it approaches fire, it melts. Thus the demons disappear before the power of God, as is evident by His Resurrection.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa writes that this also happens to every human being associated with Christ. As the smoke dissolves when it rises in the air, and the candle melts when it comes into contact with the fire, so it happens when Divine Grace comes to the aid of someone, destroying the passions that prevail in him.

The third verse is a continuation of the previous one: "So let the sinners perish from the face of God and the righteous be glad" (Ps. 67:3-4).

And in this verse also the demons are meant, who in fact are also characterized as sinners, because they gave birth to sin and became teachers of sin to people, since after their advice the First-formed sinned in Paradise. Thus, with the Resurrection of Christ, which is like fire, the demons melt, as is done with the candle.

This does not mean that the demons cease to exist, but they cannot be found where the Grace of Christ overshadows. This brings joy to Christians, who are characterized as righteous, because they believed in Christ and were justified by Him through their faith in Christ.

The fourth verse refers to the day of the Lord and the day of His Resurrection: "This is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Ps. 117:24).

With this verse the Prophet David prophesies what would happen later, and finally happened on the day of Christ's Resurrection. The great and wonderful day of the Lord is the day of Resurrection and "which became known as Kyriaki [the Lord's Day or Sunday]", according to Athanasius the Great.

The day of Christ's Resurrection is a joyous day, because, according to Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, on that day Christ reconciled God to men, in fact, according to the Apostle Paul, there was a reconciliation between men and God, having put an end to the tyranny of the devil, abolishing the power of death, made the unworthy people on earth worthy of the heavens, dispelled the darkness of delusion, banished sin, implanted virtue and filled the universe with a myriad of spiritual gifts. After all this, how can we not be filled with joy and gladness on this Resurrection Day?

Therefore, these four verses of David that prefix the hymn "Christ is Risen", as well as other Resurrection troparia, define the meaning of this hymn and the content of our spiritual joy with the feast of the Resurrection of the Lord.

The victory of Christ against the demonic forces continues in our lives, although we receive many demonic attacks, with thoughts, with desires, with deeds, with words, we must fight against them. This must be done by the power of Christ. Christ is victorious with our synergy and consent. This struggle against the demons is the essence of Christianity.

Beloved children in the Lord,

All that has been mentioned is the content of the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, but also of our spiritual joy. And because Orthodox Christians today accept the war with the demons in various ways, we continue to pray to the Risen Lord to cast out His enemies and to scatter them, just like when smoke disappears as it goes up in the air and as wax melts when it comes into contact with fire.

Thus, we will have spiritual joy and the verse of David will be valid, which is a continuation of the last verse mentioned above: "O Lord, save now; O Lord, send now prosperity.", that is, Lord, save your people, the Christians, and let the preaching of Your gospel be prosperous, that we may cry out: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" (Psalm 117:25-26).

Christ is Risen! Many Years!

With Resurrection blessings,

The Metropolitan

Of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou HIEROTHEOS

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
 
 
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