субота, 18. април 2020.

Paschal Encyclical 2020 STOC

The Serbian True Orthodox Church
Paschal Encyclical 2020

Paschal Encyclical 2020

Hierarchical Council of the STOC
Under the chairmanship of His Grace Akakije
Bishop of Uteshiteljevo

To All the Faithful Children of St. Sava’s Church
Congratulations on the Feast of Feasts,
The Radiant Resurrection of Christ:


“And ye now therefore have sorrow:
But I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice,
And your joy no man taketh from you.” John 16:22

The Feast of the Resurection of Christ, which this year we celebrate in hiding for fear of the Jews (Jn 20:19), is the feast of the triumph over hades and death, for He by death destroyed he who had the power of death, the devil. (Heb. 2:14)

Just as Christ with His descent into hell, defeated and shattered the dominion of hell and freed those souls who were there imprisoned, so did He defeat death with His most glorious resurrection from the dead.

We Christians, through preserving the dogmas of the faith (orthodoxy – right belief) and the dogmas of behavior (right-living), that is, the Lord’s commandments, and communing of His Holy Mysteries, become partakers of His triumph. “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet he shall live.” (Jn. 11:25) “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Jn. 6:54)

Thus, the Pascha of Christ, dear brothers and sisters, is the foundation of our life, “The reason of the hope that is in you,” (1 Pet 3:15), the pledge of our salvation.

Let us then rejoice, and cleansing our senses, behold Christ shining with the ineffable light of the resurrection, and clearly hear Him say, “Rejoice!” Thus encouraged by the Lord, without fear let us haste on the salvific path of labor and battle. No matter what temptations the devil may send us, if we remain faithful to the Lord until death, we will receive from Him “a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)
Let us not accept cooperation with the sons of perdition, with the enemies of Christ, the enemies of our salvation. The Pascha of Christ gives us the firmest hope and unwavering courage for deliverance from slavery to the devil, in this passing life as well as in eternity.

Let us look to the holy martyrs and confessors. They felt in themselves the power of the triumph of Christ over satan. They were free in spirit, no matter what happened to their bodies. In the most difficult situations, in times of great persecution, when martyric suffering and death were an everyday occurrence, they did not waver in spirit. In spite of terrible trials, Christian martyrs lived in the grace-filled, joyful and fortifying state of this triumph over death, sin and the devil, the Pascha of Christ. They consciously and willingly accepted every suffering, persecution, and in the end, martyric death, but they would never accept compromise with evil. They remained faithful to the end to their baptismal vows of renunciation of satan and all of his works, all his angels, all his service, and all his pride.

The Church must never forget that she, despite her heavenly nature, is nonetheless here in the “world which lieth in wickedness” (Jn. 5:19), and that the world - except during the period of the rule of pious emperors and kings, the anointed of God -  is hostile towards her, and uses every chance to bring that hostility into action. Between the seed of the woman and the serpent, God Himself planted enmity which will last to the end of time (Gen. 3:15). As long as the Church is in a world under the yoke of God-fighters, she cannot live in peace. She is obliged to fight constantly under the standard of the Precious Cross against evil.

The Cross is the foundation of Christianity, the foundation of the Church, the power which conquers the world and the lords of darkness of this world (Eph. 6:12). The Cross is the way of  Our Redeemer, and it is the way of His followers. The Head of the Church and her members are inseparable in their union of suffering and glory, Golgotha and Resurrection.

The mystery of iniquity (2 Thes. 2:7) which in our times has revealed itself with special power and until now unseen extent, should not confuse the faithful children of the Church, those who believe in the unconquerable house of God (Mat 16:18). For the coming antichrist, with his minor but numerous forerunners and servants, is not terrible for the children of the Church when they firmly hold to the unconquerable “pillar and ground of truth.” (1 Tim 3:15)

The deceptions and traps of the servants of the devil are only fatal for those who “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” (2 Thes 2:10) for God, because of this rejection of the truth, will “send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thes 2:11). Meanwhile, “those who walk in truth” (2 John 1:4) are protected from this destructive way by the Truth by which they live, for in the words of the beloved disciple of Christ, “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Let us lay in our hearts the words of the Lord, “Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father’s pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk. 12:3), or as it is said to the angel of the church of Philadelphia, “thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and has not denied my name… because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth…” (Rev 3:8-10).

The Lord tells us that, in spite of all the persecutions of the world of antichrist, we keep peace in Him, for “if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled” (1 Pet 3:14) “for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

As we are in conformity with the gospel teachings, in our Notice to the Public (April 5, 2020), we declared the governmental measures of forbidding church services for the greatest Christian feastday, the Resurrection of Christ, as well as the government itself, anti-christian. For this reason, we have now introduced into the litanies a prayer for deliverance of the Serbian people from the godless authorities. Our belief in the risen Lord gives us the strength to not retreat before the growing evil and to firmly stand in defense of the Church, her freedom, and her ability to do what is most important for people, her salvific role in the world and in our nation.

In these antichrisitian times of the powers of darkness (Lk 22:53), with undaunted hope in God’s help, remembering Christ’s unending promise that “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you,” (John. 16:23) we direct this heartfelt prayer to the Risen Lord:

“Deliver our much-suffering people from the heavy yoke of the godless authorities. Convert unbelievers to true faith and piety. Grant the faithful the strength to resist evil and help them to do good. According to Thy great mercy, O Lord, establish for us the throne of pious Serbian kings, Thy anointed. Grant peace to their rule, that we may in their tranquility lead a quiet and
peaceful life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim 2:2).

Christ is Risen!

Your intercessors before the Risen Lord,
Bishop Akakije of Uteshiteljevo
Bishop Nektarije of Shumadija

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