Orthodox Easter Message from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

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In his Easter message delivered today, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew underscores the Orthodox Church's steadfast commitment to the profound transformation of the world. He asserts that within Orthodox self-awareness, there exists no tolerance for acquiescence to evil or indifference toward the human condition.

Instead, the Patriarch emphasises that the Church's contribution to historical transformation is rooted in theology and existential principles. Crucially, this endeavour unfolds without compromising the distinct identity of the Church amidst worldly affairs.

The entire Easter message of the Primate is as follows:

"Most Venerable Brethren Prelates and beloved children in the Lord,

By the glory and grace of God's grace, having gone through the glorious Holy and Great Lent and having passed through the Week of the Passion of the Lord, behold, we rejoice in the celebration of His glorious Resurrection, by which we were delivered from the tyranny of Hades.

The glorious resurrection of Christ the Saviour from the dead is the meeting of the whole race of the Brethren, and the foretaste of the consummation of all things and the consummation of the Divine Economy in the kingdom of heaven. We participate in the inexpressible mystery of the Resurrection in the Church, rejoicing in its sacred mysteries and experiencing Easter, "the gates of Paradise have been opened to us", not as a memory of a past event, but as the quintessence of ecclesial life, as the presence of Christ forever in our midst, closer to us than we are to ourselves. At Easter, the Orthodox faithful discover their true self as being in Christ, joining in the movement of all towards Easter, "in joy unconfined and unfeigned" (1 Pet 1:8), as "sons of light... and sons of the day" (1 Thess. e, 5).

The central characteristic of Orthodox life is its resurrectional pulse. The philosopher aptly called Orthodox spirituality "somber" and "autumnal". The developed sense of the Orthodox is rightly praised by Westerners for the meaning and experiential depth of the Paschal experience, but this faith does not forget that the path to the Resurrection is through the Cross. Orthodox spirituality does not know the utopianism of the Resurrection without the Cross, nor the pessimism of the Cross without the Resurrection.

For this reason, in the Orthodox experience evil does not have the last word in history, while faith in the Resurrection acts as a motive for the struggle against the presence in the world and its consequences, acting as a powerful transforming force.

In Orthodox self-consciousness there is no room for capitulation to evil, for indifference to the course of human affairs. On the contrary, the contribution to the transformation of history has a theological basis and an existential foundation and unfolds without the danger of the Church's identification with the world. The Orthodox believer is conscious of the contrast between worldly reality and eschatological perfection and cannot remain inactive in the face of negativity.

For this reason, the Orthodox Church has never seen the struggle for the transformation of the world as a trivial matter. The Paschal faith saved the Church both from introversion and closed-mindedness and from secularism.

In the Easter of the Orthodox the whole mystery and existential richness of our piety is concentrated. The "surprise" of the martyrs, when, "entering the memorial, they saw a young man... clothed in white robes" (Mark 6:5), characterises the magnitude and essence of the experience of faith as an experience of existential shock. The "ecstasy" indicates that man is before a mystery, which he deepens as he approaches it, according to the saying that our faith "is not a journey from mystery to knowledge, but from knowledge to mystery"; while the denial of the mystery shrinks man existentially, reverence opens to him the gate of heaven.

Faith in the Resurrection is the deepest and most unshakable expression of our freedom, or rather the birth of it as a voluntary acceptance of the supreme divine gift of divinity by grace. The Orthodox Church, as "lived Resurrection", is the place of "true freedom", which in the Christian life is the foundation, the way and the destination. The Resurrection of Christ is a gospel of freedom, a gift of freedom and a guarantee of "common freedom" in the "eternal life" of the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

With these sentiments, most reverend brethren and beloved children, in the fullness of the joy of sharing in the "common feast of all," receiving light from the unquenched light, and glorifying Christ, risen from the dead and risen again to life, and commemorated on this solemn "called and holy day." of all the brethren present, we beseech the Lord, the God of peace, who has conquered death, to make peace in the world, to bless our endeavours to every good work, and to please Him, by crying out the joyful hymn, "Christ is risen"!

(Source: Amna)

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