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April 24, 2022

Paschal Pastoral Encyclical 2022 (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

by the mercy of God Bishop and Metropolitan
of the God-saved Sacred Metropolis 
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

the Clergy, Monks and Laity
of our Sacred Metropolis

Beloved children in the Lord,

On the occasion of the great feast of the Resurrection of Christ, I have the great joy of addressing all of you, the blessed Christians of our Sacred Metropolis, and to address you with the triumphant greeting "Christ is Risen!"
This greeting shows that if all religions have a mortal leader and founder, Christianity, which is not a simple religion, but the Church, has as its head the Risen Christ who lives forever and gives life to all the members of His glorified Body. He Himself assures us: "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death" (Revelation 1:17-18). This is the reason why we Orthodox Christians praise and glorify the Risen Christ throughout the period of the Pentecostarion, but also every Sunday, which is the weekly Pascha.
This is what we Orthodox Christians primarily feel, because we are members of the Orthodox Church that preserves the correct faith and the correct way of life, it has the truth, as it was revealed by the pre-incarnate Word, the Lord of Glory, to the Prophets of the Old Testament, and by the Incarnate Word to the Apostles and the Saints of the New Testament.
The Church, however, is not simply above every religion, but is the Body of the Risen Christ, and in this atmosphere all the Mysteries of Christ are celebrated, with the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist as the pinnacle, by which we commune of the Body and Blood of Christ. The ecclesiastical life is not an emotional life, it is not some customs and traditions, but it is an empirical and resurrection life. In the Church we eliminate despair and the fear of death, sorrow and gloom, individualism and selfishness, and we enjoy faith, love, hope and life.
Then, the theology of the Church is not philosophical, but empirical, a life according to the cross and resurrection. If philosophy satisfies the imagination and human thinking, theology is the experience of the living God and therefore sanctifies all humanity. Every philosopher tries to explain why there is a world, for what reason does evil exist in it, why does death prevail in nature and man himself, and as it is natural, many answers are given by philosophers and those who philosophize. However, the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church, because they live in the resurrected Body of Christ, are possessed by the power of life and resurrection and are full of hope, living with the knowledge that Christ has conquered death and transfer this resurrection life to His friends.
The people who are closed to this are possessed by despair and the fear of death. Death is not just a shocking event that comes at the end of the biological life of every human being, but it exists in our existence from the first moment of conception in our gene of ageing, that is, of the genes of corruption, sickness and death. Still many people feel as if they are inside a personal hell, where grief, pain, the darkness of desolation, loneliness, desperation and despair prevail.
However, those who believe in the Resurrection of Christ, and live in Christ the resurrected life in the Church where the Body of the Risen Christ is, reject the fear of death and turn away from tribulations and despair by being illuminated people, who are strong during the difficult moments of their lives. This is because they invoke the Risen Christ and He comes into their personal hell and fills them with Light and peace.
Today, on this day of the Resurrection of Christ, everything is flooded with heavenly Light, everything is joyful. We must, however, have this spiritual joy not temporarily, not just associated with a few days of the year, but to always accompany our life, that is, the Light of the Risen Christ to transform us throughout all of life. We must deal with sickness, the fall, the deprivation of our loved ones, family and financial matters with hope and faith in the Resurrection of Christ.
I wish all the dear Orthodox Christians of the Sacred Metropolis to have physical health, Orthodox faith, but above all to be full of the Light and the joy of the Resurrection of Christ. Then they will not be possessed by despair and pain, by the problems and trials of life. Then, the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ will not be a social, seasonal and emotional celebration, but will be the power of the indestructible life, a celebration of hope, love and a strong meaning of life, which will be the eternal Pascha.
Christ is risen, brethren.
With resurrection blessings,
The Metropolitan
+ Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.