Easter Message 2008


By the grace of God Archbishop of Australia
To all the Clergy and devout faithful
of our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese

Brother Concelebrants and light-filled children of the Church,

The great duration of time separating this year's celebration of Easter by Christians of 'East' and 'West', has once again unfortunately made highly topical certain practical problems of daily living.

When the holidays and working days are common for all citizens of a modern culturally diverse society, how is it then possible for a minority to celebrate at another time, without feeling cut off from the prevalent majority?

It would perhaps be no exaggeration to state that such a celebration, to an extent, 'contradicts' the Feast itself!

This is at least our situation in the Diaspora, especially when it comes to Easter, the greatest and most characteristic Feast of the Orthodox.

Because Easter (or Pascha) which, as we know, means 'passover' to another reality, cannot be properly appreciated when your own limbs are fragmented or, above all, when we are 'halfhearted'!

This very human problem could have perhaps been limited merely to its practical consequences, which are in any case perishing daily, only if the spiritual foundations of the sanctified Tradition in Christ still remain vigorous and vibrant - at least in our sub conscience!

Let us remember, for example, how we ail felt just a few decades ago, as the bright Feast of Easter approached: Rising from our lips, like the refrain of a melody from beyond this world, was the prayerful 'three-part' hymn of Easter:

"O pure Pascha
O great Pascha
Pascha of the faithful!"

If we take this liturgical 'exclamation' which vitally characterizes Easter using only three words (in the form of adjectives rather than nouns), we will be amazed by the condition of all modern Christianity throughout the world!

This is why we should admit in all honesty that, even if today's Christians had managed to celebrate Easter on a mutually agreed date, we would not have the right to call such an Easter "pure" or "great. And this, only due to our own unworthiness.

Above all, we would not have the right to indiscriminately call such an Easter the "Pascha of the faithful"!

How can we consider ourselves-to be 'the faithful', we who are called 'Christians', yet who are also divided - not only in terms of Doctrine and Ethos, but also through antagonism against one another day and night?

Could there possibly be any more uncivilized antagonism between 'Christians', than for us to quarrel about the most 'mundane' and 'vain' things of this world - especially for the 'primacy' of Authority, rather than for the Christ-like gift of Service?

It would not be superfluous to remind "ourselves and one another"(!) that, as a general rule, the most spiritual people of each epoch silently preferred to 'beg' rather than to 'demand', i.e. to beseech rather than to grab. For, only in this way does the 'free person' blossom from'within the 'slave', and from the bondage of the 'possessive urge', which expresses the blind need of 'beastly instincts'.

However, let us not end on a pessimistic note and 'spoil', in some way, the 'reverence of these days' and remain, above all, without consolation as "those who do not have hope" (1 Thess. 4:13), while the celebration of the Holy Passion and Resurrection of the Lord approaches. We therefore quote immediately below one of the most astonishing statements of the Apostle Paul, which heralds the 'glory' which we hope for 'in Christ' and 'with Christ', following our debasement and the related 'dishonour' of this world:

"When Christ who is our life appears
Then you also will appear with Him in glory"

(Col. 3:4)

With fervent prayers in Christ who is Risen

Archbishop S T Y L I A N O S

Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia

Easter 2008
translation by DK

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