METROPOLITAN ARCHEPARCHY OF PHILADELPHIA
Ukrainian Catholic
827 North Franklin Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19123-2097
Phone (215) 627-0143 Fax (215) 627-0377
ukrmet@catholic.org

No. 182/2014 O                                                                                                        Office of the Metropolitan

EASTER PASTORAL OF THE UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC HIERARCHY OF
THE U.S.A. TO OUR CLERGY, HIEROMONKS AND BROTHERS, RELIGIOUS
SISTERS, SEMINARIANS AND BELOVED FAITHFUL

CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!”

Christ, our God, has brought us from death to life and from earth to heaven (cf. Resurrection Matins, Canon, Ode 1). During the Great Fast we had cleansed our senses so that we might see the Risen Christ in the glory of His resurrection and clearly hear Him greeting us: “Rejoice!” This is the day of Resurrection and therefore we are able to sing the hymn of victory: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and to those in the tombs giving life.”

This is the convincing sound that gives testimony to “hope that springs eternal” in the breast of each and every one of us following the “Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor, glory and praise” (Rev. 5:12). The Easter Event, which dramatizes Christ’s triumph over death and sin, is undoubtedly the most effective symbol of hope. Why? Because we all want to live. It is a fact that people can live without food and water for some limited period of time, but they certainly cannot live without hope. For that reason, Dante’s “Inferno” portrays hell as a place without hope: “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”

One of our favorite Easter narratives is Luke 24:13-35, where the Risen Christ accompanies the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, they fail to recognize the Lord even though He is the subject of their discussion: “Our own hope had been that He would be the one to set Israel free” (v.21), i.e., to bring liberation and peace.
We all entertain some aspect of hope: hope for peace and tranquility; hope for a better way of life; hope for opportunities to learn and advance one’s self; hope to be able to raise family in a safe society; and, deep down inside, there is a hope to live on and on, and never die.

Hope is the common thread that weaves significance into the life of each one of us. The Resurrection of Jesus is par excellence, that common thread, the common thread which, once woven into our lives, gives purpose, happiness and fulfillment. One of the early Church Fathers, St. Athanasius, puts it this way: “The Resurrection of Christ makes the life of human beings a continuous feast.”

We realistically recognize, however, the fact that for some, if not for many, the notion of a “continuous feast” is a fantasy far removed from what is presently being experienced: acts of injustice, violence and brutality, greed and corruption in high places. All these speak of death, and not a “continuous feast.” It was to reverse such death-dealing instances that the “Lamb” was slain, so that we may “have life and have it to the full” (Jn. 10:10).

Is this not what our sisters and brothers in Ukraine are trying to achieve? It is their hope and struggle for basic human rights, freedom, and national integrity and unity. We pray that they may always keep in mind that Easter speaks of hope and that the Savior who walks with them always and who keeps on reminding them and all of us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still and trust in me” (Jn. 14:1). Since Christ’s Crucifixion, Burial and Resurrection, no oppression, no injustice, no hard life is without hope. We experience these things, but we also know that they are temporary and no longer have an eternal hold on us.

All of us need to realize that the Resurrection of Christ has effected radically the life of each man, woman and child. It is for us to grasp the significance of the words spoken by the angel to the myrrh-bearing women who went to the tomb early on Easter morning to anoint Jesus’ body: “Why look for the living among the dead? You won’t find Him here. He is Risen” (Lk. 24:5-6).

The Good News of New Life bursting through the tomb of death is cause for rejoicing. Christ crucified and resurrected is surely not among the dead, and will not be encountered among the dead. “He has been raised” and has vanquished the power of death thereby robbing death and sin of their victory: “Oh, death, where is your victory; oh, death, where is your sting?” (1Cor. 15:55).

Christ’s Resurrection is mirrored in our lives today, when we reflect courage as we “work out our salvation” (cf. Phil. 2:12) even in the most difficult of situations. Like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, we need to count our blessings assured of the Risen Lord’s words: “Courage, for I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

Hope indicates an aspiration to go beyond. To the extent we Christians in the market-place (i.e., home, work-place, school, church and society) champion the cause of justice, honesty and fair play, to that extent Peace will follow. On the evening of the first day of the week, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and said to them, “Peace be with you” (Jn.20:19).

Our hope and our prayer is that all of you may have a truly happy, holy and blessed Easter. May our Lord’s victory – his conquest over sin and death, and His promise of peace and eternal life, be yours always. The Blessings of our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be always with you!
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
+ Stefan Soroka
Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians
Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States
+Richard Seminack
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM
Eparch of Stamford

+John Bura (author)
Apostolic Administrator
of St. Josaphat in Parma
Easter, 2014