April 16, 2023
To the Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,
My Beloved Children in the Lord, Christ is risen! Indeed he is risen! “Let us purify our senses and we shall see Christ shining in the unapproachable light of the Resurrection. We shall clearly hear him say: ‘Rejoice.’” (Paschal Canon, Ode One)
When the myrrh-bearing women came to the tomb, they were met by the words of an angel: “He is not here. He is risen.” Mary Magdalene and the other women in turn brought this message to the apostles. And down through the centuries, that message has been passed on by their successors, even to us: the Gospel of the crucified and risen Lord.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”—this is the heart of the Gospel, and the Resurrection of Christ is the irruption of the heavenly kingdom into our fallen reality, the demonstration and proof that the kingdom is at hand. The Resurrection of Christ is not a distant and ancient event. It is a new reality to which we in the Church already have access.
For the message of Christ’s Rising is not merely passed down from generation to generation, like other teachings or stories. It is passed down through experience: in baptism, we die and rise with Christ. In chrismation, we receive his Spirit and share in his anointing. In the Eucharist, we eat his deified Body and Blood, offered for us on the Cross and taken up into heaven through the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension. Through the mysteries, we enter ourselves into a personal and eternal relationship with the Risen Lord.
This is why, in St. John Damascene’s Paschal canon, the figure who announces the Resurrection to the believer is none other than Christ himself—“we shall see Christ shining in the unapproachable light of the Resurrection. We shall clearly hear him say: ‘Rejoice.’” He has chosen mortal ministers to serve at his mysteries and offer them on our behalf, but through the mysteries—if we repent, “purify[ing] our senses” of sinful preoccupations with worldly things—then we will encounter Christ himself.
And this encounter fills us with joy, because it is a foretaste of the kingdom, where the righteous will always delight in the clear light of the Resurrection, where the Resurrection’s transformative power will be known in full, where Christ will be seen, not as in a mirror darkly, but face to face.
Christ is risen, beloved children! Death, sin, hell, the world, the devil—these are all fleeing in defeat. Christ himself goes before us into the kingdom, the new heaven and the new earth, and we sing the song of victory: “Christ is risen!”
May we, all of us, keep that anthem in our hearts all the yearlong, and throughout the years, knowing that Christ’s Resurrection is the conquest of all trouble and sorrow, the end of the rule of Satan and sin and brokenness, and the beginning of a new reality that knows no end: the kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, lasting unto all ages.
Greeting you with the unfailing, invincible, and unending joy of the Lord’s Pascha, I remain, Yours in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington Metropolitan of All America and Canada
His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon Issues Letter on Kyiv Caves Lavra
March 28, 2023
03/033 Nury Turkel,
Chair United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
732 N. Capitol Street, N.W. Suite A714 Washington, D.C. 20401
I write to you as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, the local, autocephalous Orthodox Church in North America, including the United States of America. The Orthodox Church in America is made up of citizens of the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and encompasses clergy and faithful from numerous ethnic backgrounds. Our parishes and dioceses share in ethnic traditions from many local Orthodox Churches. However, our local Church has a special historical relationship with the holy traditions of Orthodox Christianity originating from the churches of Rus, and the mother city of all the peoples and churches of Rus in general, and of Ukraine in particular, is Kyiv.
Thus it is with special concern that we observe the recent developments in the relationship between the civil authorities of Ukraine and the monastic brethren from the Kyiv Caves Lavra, the motherhouse of monasticism in Rus and in Ukraine in particular.
On behalf of the clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America, I affirm the following. We continue to pray for the people of Ukraine and condemn all violent aggression, including the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine’s sovereign territory. While recognizing the legitimate need of states to ensure their security, especially in times of war, we also decry restrictions on the religious freedom of any group in Ukraine and especially denounce any generalized religious persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy. We have assured Metropolitan Onufriy, his clergy, and the Ukrainian faithful, who are beset by troubles on all sides, that the Orthodox Church in America stands ready to support the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, both with our prayers and by any other means at our disposal.
We confidently hope that, as the United States continues to provide aid for Ukraine in response to the Russian Federation’s invasion, the United States government will do everything in its power to encourage the government of Ukraine to respect fundamental human rights, including that of religious freedom, during this time of conflict.
Sincerely, Metropolitan Tikhon
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada