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Russian version

From His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia
to archpastors, pastors, the monastics and all children
of the Russian Orthodox Church

Let the heavens worthily rejoice,
let earth too be exultant,
let the whole world and all things visible and invisible celebrate:
for Christ has risen, and there is eternal joy!
The Paschal Canon

        Beloved in the Risen Lord Your Graces the archpastors, esteemed pastors, honourable monks and nuns, pious laity - beloved children all of our Holy Mother Church! As my whole heart rejoices and is exultant, I congratulate you on the great and saving feast of Christ's Resurrection.
        Rejoice, my dear ones, for now has come upon us the all-joyful day of the Lord's Passover, the 'Feast of Feast and Triumph of Triumphs', and again the Lord grants us through the grace of the Holy Spirit to see the Risen God-man Jesus Christ, Who has destroyed hell, and trampled down death in obeying the will of the Heavenly Father; He has redeemed the sin of Adam's disobedience 'even unto death, death on the cross'. Human nature, corrupted by and inclined towards sin and in sin deprived of its divine likeness has been renewed in Christ, has been risen with Him and has ascended with Him to the altar of the Heavenly Father, having revealed in all its fullness the original beauty of God's beloved creature.
        We too are called upon to participate in this glory, this light-bearing transfiguration of eternal joy in the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ the Saviour. Christ the Saviour has opened His gates for us, He calls us all and grants to all joy here on earth, the joy of regeneration in the fount of Holy Baptism and the joy of being sacramentally and inextricably united to Him in Holy Communion.
        This grace, which saves and heals and is given to us in Christ's Resurrection, is especially felt on this holy day. Therefore our soul is exultant and it is with such great joy that our churches resound with hymns in honour of the Victor of death. In being the fount of eternal life, He wanted to grant to us the joy of the Paschal encounter with Him - a joy which nobody can take away from us (Jn 16:22), for it is within us in the very depths of the Christian soul which has encountered the Risen Lord.
        Our faith has been built up through this joy. It is this joy which transfigured the simple fishermen, timid and unsure in their expectation, into apostles of Christ who fearlessly preached the Risen One throughout the entire face of the earth and confirmed their faith in Him through their martyr's death. It was this joy that shone on the faces of the martyrs for Christ who followed Him in suffering and death. It was this joy that led into the wilderness successful and wealthy people and turned them into great heroes of the spirit, attaining here in their earthly life the divine image and likeness with which God honoured the human person when He created him.
        St. Seraphim of Sarov, a saint of God ardently loved by the Orthodox people, whose one hundred year anniversary of his glorification we celebrate this year, greeted each person who came to him with the words 'My joy! Christ is risen!' The radiant joy of Pascha had filled his soul and was poured forth in abundance upon the world. The eternal Passover made of him a temple of the Living God.
        My dear ones! God grants to us too this joy. And if it fills our souls, if we do not allow the vanities of everyday life to extinguish its saving light, then all the cares and worries of our complicated and difficult life will fade at the life-giving radiance of Christ's Passover which 'opens the gates of paradise to us'. Preserve this sacred joy, bring it to people, share it in abundance with those who have never encountered the Risen Lord in their lives, those who do not yet know that 'God is love' and that His kingdom is the kingdom of joy and light.
        My beloved! In all difficulties and everyday trials let us recall the apostle's words: 'Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ for you' (1 Thess 5:16-18). Let us always remind ourselves of this as each day we pray ardently for our neighbours and the whole world.
        The Holy Church preaches and builds up peace - peace in our souls and families, peace in each land and throughout the face of the earth. The striving for peace and accord is one of the most important missions of the Church in her relations with the secular authorities, politicians, civil associations and people of other confessions and religions. Yes, many peoples are today divided. In various regions of thew world blood is being shed, peaceful civilians are dying, enmity does not abate. Violence, hatred and other sins are being imposed upon society through a pseudo-culture. Many of our fellow citizens as before suffer from poverty, deprivation and crime. Is it possible to bring peace in such conditions? It is, if we recall that peace among people begins with peace in our hearts. In turning towards Christ and entrusting our whole lives to Him, we become genuine peacemakers. The Church reminds us of this and offers to each people the way of creative moral transformation, the way towards perfection and peace - the way of Christ. I call upon every person to follow this way - both old and young, rich and poor, learned and simple, all those invested with authority and those who are not.
        My dear brothers and fellow bishops, all-honourable fathers, brothers and sisters, again and again with fervent joy I greet you on the light-bearing feast of Christ's Passover and with the apostles I say: 'Rejoice, be complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you' (2 Cor 13:11).

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Patriarch of Moscow anl all Russia

Pascha 2003 AD

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