To the Esteemed Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful in the Diocese of the Midwest:
Beloved in the Lord,
Christ is Risen!
I greet all of you in the great joy of the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Once again this Lenten Spring has been marked by tremendous distraction from both the world and the Church; distractions which have affected the very life of our Orthodox Church in America, distractions that in some cases have lasted for nearly three years. But despite these many, many distractions we nonetheless have completed the Great Fast and ultimately through the Cross and Resurrection of Christ we have hope.
We have prepared ourselves spiritually to receive the Pascha of Our Lord and hopefully we have learned at least a little while the school of repentance which is Great Lent was open. We have beheld “…the Son of man glorified…” and have understood that “…in Him God is glorified.” (John 13:21) We have beheld the Resurrection of Christ and in this celebration we are caught up in His Glory!
“Yesterday I was buried with You, O Christ. Today I arise with You in Your Resurrection. Yesterday I was crucified with You. Glorify me with You, O Savior, in Your Kingdom.” (Third Ode of the Paschal Canon)
Today, through the Resurrection of Our Lord we are afforded the opportunity to put off the old Adam, to turn from the broken, fallen and distorted of this world and to continue to ask for the granting of the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love. The theologian Veselin Kesich writes, “Christ’s resurrection is the beginning of the resurrection of all men – it is a new creation.” Today, through the Resurrection we have been given a new beginning, a new Adam, a new creation uplifted, restored, whole and undistorted.
On the road to Damascus Our Lord appeared to Paul saying:
"…rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness…in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me." (Acts 26:16-18)
A new creation has been inaugurated so that we may rise and stand upon our feet and pronounce Our Risen Lord to a world hungry for Truth. The School of Repentance is closed, it is now time for us to turn from our old and sinful ways, to put aside the distractions of this world and to focus on the building up of Christ’s Church, so that our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and un-churched family members may also receive the ‘forgiveness of sins and inheritance’ of the Kingdom of God.
Today we heed the words of St John Chrysostom’s Paschal Homily and “enjoy the feast of faith” and receive with an open heart the “riches of living-kindness”. But we do this looking forward with joy and anticipation to that day when all prophecies of the Church are fulfilled, that day when the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth enters into the world with power providing us with the means of transfiguration, the means by which we may work out our salvation - that great and glorious day of Pentecost.
My beloved Brothers and Sisters, may Our Risen Lord grant us His grace to live with ever-increasing fullness the new life which He bestows upon us. May we all be glorified with our Savior in his Kingdom!
With much love in the Risen Lord,
Archbishop of Chicago and the Midwest