PASCHAL MESSAGE TO HONORABLE CLERGY, VENERABLE MONASTICS AND GOD-LOVING FLOCK OF THE PHILIPPINE – VIETNAMESE DIOCESE BY METROPOLITAN PAVEL OF MANILA AND HANOI

“…Christ is a new Passover, a living Sacrifice,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”
(Chorus of the Easter Canon)

Beloved in the Risen Christ, honorable fathers,
God-loving monastics,
dear brothers and sisters!
The many-merciful Lord, in his unspeakable love for humanity, has again vouchsafed us to reach the great and saving day of the Passover of Christ. From the fullness of my heart, filled with Paschal joy, I bring to each of you a life-giving, unquenchable apostolic greeting that shines through the ages:
CHRIST IS RISEN!
All the Holy Evangelists tell about the Resurrection of Christ. According to the Apostle Matthew’s Gospel, the angel of the Lord says to the myrrh-bearing women: fear not ye, for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified; He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee… And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail! (Mt 28: 5-7, 9).
On this named and Holy day, we perceive with a special feeling the truth about the crushing of the enmity that divides humanity by the Crucified and Risen Christ (Eph. 2, 14-16), and we listen to the heartfelt Catechism of John Chrysostom, in which the great Saint speaks of Easter as a source of reconciliation and a pledge of peace.
On this Holy and luminous Easter night, the heart of an Orthodox person rejoices, the Resurrection of Christ is the Foundation of our faith, for, according to the word of the Apostle Paul, if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain (1 Corinthians 15:14).
But Christ is Risen! And this is what we proclaim on this Holy and named day to all people and to all living beings on earth today: Christ is truly Risen!
“Truly celebrates the Resurrection the one who has risen from dead works, for deeds of virtue, for faith and Christian love,” –St. John of Kronstadt said.
Therefore, on the Holy Paschal days, celebrating the Resurrection of Christ, let us do works of charity, with a comforting word and compassionate love, to help the sick, the needy and the destitute.
The famous modern theologian and preacher Metropolitan Anthony of Surozh famously said this: “This is our calling: where it is dark, we must be light; where there is no faith – we must bring the assurance of faith; where there is no hope, we must shine with hope, when it would seem impossible to hope; where love is extinguished – we must be invincible love! We should be an example of what a real living person is, a person who is a living image of the Savior Christ, united with God inseparably and giving himself irrevocably to the service of other people!»
My dear brothers and sisters, let us succeed in fulfilling the precepts of the Orthodox faith, which is an abundant source of moral improvement, piety, love, diligence, and peace, guiding us to eternal salvation.
Our message today will once again be the words that I address to you in celebration of the feast, amazing in their power and exalted in their content and meaning:
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!

By the grace of God,

Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi

Easter, 2020
Manila

PASCHAL GREETINGS of the Metropolitan of Singapore and South East Asia SERGIY to the Most Reverend bishops, clergy, and all God-loving flock of the Patriarchal Exarchate of South East Asia

Most Reverend brethren archpastors, venerable priests, deacons, and beloved brothers and sisters!

CHRIST IS RISEN!

Beloved, I heartily congratulate all of you, on the great and luminous feast of the Holy Pascha!
Today we are spiritually experiencing an event that has the most important significance not only on the scale of world history, but also for the life of each of us. The only begotten Son of God became incarnate and shares our burdens of earthly being, teaches us heavenly truths and, having suffered torments, died on the Cross. For many millennia since the fall of the first people from the Creator, man experienced the tragedy of disunity, but no human effort was able to overcome this abyss of sin. Yet God Himself comes to earth and sacrifices Himself for the salvation of many.
When the myrrh-bearing women and the Saviour’s disciples came to the burial cave and did not find the body of the beloved Master, they first experienced loss and confusion. They did not dare to believe in the reality of the miracle that had happened – what happened seemed so incredible to them. But soon the darkness of doubt cleared, and embarrassment gave way to great joy and great gratitude to God. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said! (Matt. 28: 6) Where until recently their aspirations and hopes were buried, sprouts of warm, sincere faith sprang up and the beauty of sacrificing and the immeasurable depth of Divine love for people revealed. Death – the main and inexorable enemy of man – was finally defeated – it could not keep the Creator and the Source of Life captive!
This is the victory that overcomes the world — our faith (1 John 5: 4), – the Apostle John testifies. What are these unusual words about? They are about the power of the Gospel that surpasses all understanding. This unique power lies in two simple words of Paschal greeting. It is in them – the main content of our faith, a solid foundation of hope and an inexhaustible source of love. Through His glorious Resurrection, Christ opened the door to eternal life for us and granted true spiritual freedom: the freedom that we should be called children of God (1 John 3:1).
Each person is infinitely precious in the eyes of the Lord. Testifying of this, the Saviour walked into the world and transfigured it with works of love and mercy; healed the sick, encouraged the mourners, extended a helping hand to the stumbled. So it is for us, if we want to be truly Christ’s, it is necessary to do the work of Christ, imitating Him in the sacrificial service to our neighbours, because only by works faith was made perfect (James 2: 22). The Lord, Who knows the full depth of human pain, is always with those who are in trouble. And we, by the commandment of the Saviour, are called to see Christ in every neighbour (Matthew 25: 40).
He who lives in the Spirit also has in himself the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal. 5: 22-23). A vivid image of such an evangelical life was revealed by the great ascetic of the last century, St. John the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco. With an open and courageous heart, he came to the sick and helped those in need, prayed for the afflicted and sought to console those who mourn. Let the example of his struggle be a useful edification for all of us, especially during this difficult time, when the Lord has visited the nations with a dangerous disease.
Our Church life must be full of responsibility. Participation in the Holy Eucharist is the most important action of a Christian: when we partake of the Divine Body and Blood of the Saviour, we let the Lord into us – in Him our weakness becomes a real power that can transform the world. We only need to let Christ to act. But just like “from contact with the fire either ashes or steel is obtained, depending on what is touched. So too does it happen with a man, and everything depends on what he brings to the divine Fire – in what state he touches God. If he keeps himself like iron, the power of the iron becomes steel. If he lets himself go to the point of the weakness of chaff – he will burn up.” (St. John, Archbishop of Shanghai. God is a Consuming Fire).
May, through the prayers of St. John the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Shanghai, our faith which worketh by love (Gal. 5, 6), be strengthened like steel and become a lamp to the world, so that people, seeing our good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matt. 5 , 16).
Not in all circumstances we are able to openly testify of the Resurrected Saviour, but our everyday Christianity must always be visible, significant and active. Such a testimony, full of the spirit of love for neighbours and true joy in God, when we experience the reality of the Pascha miracle, sounds louder and more convincing than many beautiful and right words.
May the life-giving light of the Resurrection of Christ shine indefinitely in our hearts, illumine and comfort our near and distant. Congratulating all of you once again, beloved, on the great feast of Pascha, I wish you generous mercies from Saviour, Who has risen from the Tomb. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

TRULY CHRIST IS RISEN!

Metropolitan of Singapore and South East Asia,
Patriarchal Exarch of South East Asia

Pascha of Christ
2020

Paschal Greetings of Patriarch KIRILL of Moscow and All Russia to the Archpastors, Pastors, Deacons, Monastics and All the Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church

Your Graces the archpastors, venerable fathers,
all-honourable monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters:

CHRIST IS RISEN!

By the grace of the All-Generous God, we have been vouchsafed to come to the radiant Paschal night and once again rejoice in the glorious Resurrection of Christ. From the depths of my heart I greet all of you, my beloved, with this great holiday and “feast of feasts.”

Almost two thousand years separate us from the event we recall today. And yet, every year with unchanging spiritual awe the Church celebrates the Resurrection of the Lord, tirelessly bearing witness to the exceptional nature of what occurred in the burial chamber by the walls of ancient Jerusalem.

The whole earthly path of the Son of God – from His miraculous Incarnation to His Passion and terrible death on the cross – is the fulfillment of the Maker’s promise, once given to our forefathers. God promised to send into the world the One who “bears our infirmities and carries our diseases” (Is. 53:4) and who will “save his people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21). Many times the Lord affirmed this promise through His prophets. He remained true to this vow even when the chosen people rejected the covenant and violated the Creator’s will.

It is, then, in the Resurrection of Christ that God’s love is revealed in its fullness, for death has finally been vanquished – the last boundary separating the human person from the true Fount of life. And although death continues to exist in the physical sense and takes away our human bodies, it no longer has the power to destroy our souls, that is to say, to deny us life everlasting in communion with the Maker. Death has been defeated and its sting has been removed (cf. 1 Cor. 15:55). The Lord has made “captivity itself a captive” (Eph. 4:8) and cast down Hades. “Nothing will be impossible with God” (Lk. 1:37), for truly “he is risen, as he said” (Mt. 28:6)!

In the current year the peoples of the earth have been enduring extraordinary ordeals. A baneful epidemic has spread throughout the whole world and has come to our lands too. The authorities have introduced restrictions in order to avert a further rapid spread of the epidemic. In some countries of the Moscow Patriarchate’s pastoral responsibility public worship, including the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, has been suspended. However, we Orthodox Christians are not to be despondent or to despair in these difficult circumstances; even more so we should not surrender to panic. We are called upon to preserve our inner peace and recall the words of the Saviour spoken on the eve of his redemptive Passion: “In the world you face sorrow. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (Jn. 16:33).

Pascha has become for all of humanity the transition from enslavement to sin to the freedom of the kingdom of heaven, “the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rm. 8:21). It is only thanks to the Saviour’s Resurrection that we obtain the true freedom of which the all-praised Apostle Paul speaks, calling upon us to “stand fast… in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us” (Gal 5.1). How many times have we read or heard these words? And now we have to think hard on whether we live today as though Christ’s Resurrection never happened. Are we not in danger of exchanging the riches of eternity for never-ending worldly concerns in once more being held captive to the vanity of this world, in surrendering to transient fears and forgetting the incorrupt spiritual treasures and true calling of the Christian to “serve the Lord in holiness and righteousness before him” (Lk. 1:75)?

And yet, “pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father” (Jm. 1:27) is this: to treat each other with love and patience, to help and support one another in tribulations, following the example of the Good Shepherd shown to us in the Gospel. No outward restrictions should ever tear apart our unity and take away from us the true spiritual freedom which we have obtained through coming to know our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Who has conquered death and granted to us the chance to “be called the children of God; for that is what we are” (1 Jn. 3:1).

All the faithful children of the Church are of “one heart and one soul” (Acts 4:32), for apart we are but members, while together we are the Body of Christ and nothing in all creation “shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Rm. 8:39). Therefore, let those who today are unable for objective reasons to come to church and pray know that they are in other people’s thoughts and prayers. Faith grants to us the strength to live and overcome with God’s help all sorts of infirmities and tribulations, including that which has become a part of our lives through the spread of the dangerous virus.

I ardently call upon all of you, my beloved, to strengthen your common prayer to the Lord so that we may, in spite of all hardships, remain partakers of the grace-filled liturgical life of the Church, so that the holy sacrament of Eucharist may be celebrated and the faithful may with boldness draw near to the Fount of Life which are the Holy Mysteries of Christ, and so that the sick may receive healing and the healthy be protected from the dangerous infection.

We believe that the Risen Saviour will never forsake us and that He will send down upon us the resolve and courage to stand steadfastly in faith and to make our salvific journey through our earthly life to life everlasting.

I wholeheartedly congratulate all of you, my beloved brothers and sisters, on the bright feast of the Holy Pascha and call upon you to always be the image of the Saviour’s true disciples in setting a good example to people around you and in proclaiming the mighty acts of the One “who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pt. 2:9), so that all the days of our life we may through our deeds testify to the unsurpassed power and truth of the Paschal greeting:

TRULY CHRIST IS RISEN!

+KIRILL
PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA

Pascha
2020

Patriarchal message to the archpastors, clergymen, monastics and laypeople of the dioceses in the territory of Russia

At this difficult time, when the governmental authorities are taking all possible
measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection, I call upon the hierarchs,
clergy, monastics and laypeople to intensify your prayer to the Lord for the deliverance
of people from the harmful epidemic, and I call upon the arhpastors and pastors to
continue to zealously celebrate divine services and especially the Holy Eucharist – the
Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ – even in the absence of the flock due to the
authorities’ respective recommendations. “Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work
of God” (The Rule of St Benedict of Nursia, chapter 43).
Today many of us are compelled to take upon themselves the feat of constantly
staying in their homes. To them I am saying: let the place of your solitude become a desert
of your personal and domestic work of prayer, according to the Gospel: “But thou, when
thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father
which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Mt
6:6). May in this feat we also be inspired by the example of the Venerable Mary of Egypt
who had spent many years in the desert in solitary prayer.
These days we are losing an opportunity to attend together the Lenten divine
service, which we all hold dear. Yet, we know that even the gates of hell cannot prevail
against the Church of Christ (cf. Mt 16:18). “Who shall separate us from the love of
Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or
sword? <…> in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us
<…> neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present,
nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate
us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:35-39). Even while
in forced separation, as throughout history followers of Christ often found themselves
scattered over deserts and mountains, caves and gorges of the earth, we remain the
inviolable community of faith united by the prayer which we offer to the Lord Jesus in
our heart. In this prayer we are not alone – standing together with us before God’s Altar
are our holy kinsfolk, the saints of the Russian Church from all epochs of her historical
being, inspiring and encouraging us. “Take heart, the Church of Christ <…> for the
friends of Christ are taking care of you – those standing in the presence of Him and
gathered round Him” (Sessational hymn after the Polyeleos during the Service to the New
Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church).
Brothers and sisters, let us endure temporary privations in order to preserve the life
and health of our neighbours. Let us patiently undergo the affliction which has befallen
us in the firm hope that the Almighty Lord, Who took upon Himself the sufferings and
death on the cross for humankind and Who by His Resurrection opened for us the path to
salvation, will in good time change this affliction into the joy of the meeting in praising

Him by our joint prayers in a church during the divine service, “and the Lord God will
wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from
off all the earth” (Is 25:8).
In these days let us lift up fervent prayers for those who are selflessly striving to
put an end to the pestilent epidemic and those who are working to sustain the life of our
cities, towns and villages. Let us be grateful to them and give them all the support we can.
I also thank all of you, dear Vladykas, fathers, brothers and sisters, for your zealous
service to the Lord, to His Church and to each other.
I am unceasingly praying for all of you.
+KIRILL
PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA

Prayer for deliverance from pestilence

President of the Philippines R. Duterte declared the next week a Week of National Prayer for deliverance from the coronavirus infection.

His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill approved prayer requests in connection with the threat of spreading coronavirus infection.

Petitions will be offered at the Divine Liturgy in all the churches of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Earlier, the Holy Synod at a meeting on March 11 this year adopted a Statement in connection with the spread of coronavirus infection.

“During the times of epidemics, the Russian Orthodox Church has always carried out its witness service, not denying anyone spiritual care and full participation in its Sacraments,” the statement says. — We call for restraint, preservation of sobriety and prayerful calm, we draw attention to the fact that a believer should not give in to panic and fears associated with the spread of unverified information about infection. At the same time, it is unacceptable to treat coronavirus infection lightly, ignore medical prescriptions, ignore preventive measures, exposing yourself and others to the risk of infection.”

Petitions at the litany of fervent supplication at the Divine Liturgy, offered during the spread of a malicious plague:

“Again we pray Thee, O Lord our God, to mercifully deliver us from the ruinous plague threatening to us and to spare Thy faithful people of death of soul and body; to the heal the sick, and to protect and save us, O merciful Lord, soon hearken and have mercy on us.

Again we pray for calming of the confusion and disturbance of people, for protection of the faithful with a firm hope, and for planting peace and silence in our hearts, O Lord, we pray Thee, hearken and have mercy.”

Prayer during the spread of a malicious plague:

“O Lord our God, do not enter into judgment with Thy servants, and protect us from the pernicious pestilence threatening to us. Have mercy on us, Thy humble and unworthy servants, who fall down in repentance with warm faith and heartfelt compunction to Thee, our merciful God, and we trust in Thy compassion.
For it is Thine to have mercy on us and save us, O our God, and to Thee we send up glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Press service of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia

Instructions to the rectors of parishes and courtyards, Abbots and Abbesses of monasteries of the Russian Orthodox Church in connection with the threat of spread of coronavirus infection

The document was approved by the decision of the Holy Synod of March 17, 2020 (journal # 30).

For the sake of pastoral care of people, as well as in response to the request of the sanitary authorities, while maintaining a firm faith in God’s good Providence and in Divine omnipotence, the following rules are adopted, taking into account the canonical and liturgical Traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Until the epidemiological situation changes for the better and the diocesan administration gives appropriate instructions to terminate this instruction in full or in part, the following must be done in parishes, Patriarchal, Episcopal and monastic buildings, as well as in stauropigial and diocesan monasteries of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Concerning The Communion Of The Holy Mysteries Of Christ

1. Bearing in mind that the offering of a Bloodless Sacrifice can never be canceled, because where there is no Eucharist, there is no Church life, and also that the Holy Body and Blood of Christ are taught for the health of both the soul and the body (see, for example, the prayers of St. John Chrysostom, the 7th and 9th of the Preparation to Holy Communion), taking into account, however, the historical practice of the Orthodox Church in the conditions of epidemics[1], — Communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ is to be done with wiping the spoon with an alcohol-soaked cloth after each communicant (with regular renewal of the impregnation) and then dipping the spoon in water with respective disposal of water.

2. The water after Communion must be served separately for each participant in disposable glasses.

3. Use disposable sanitary gloves to distribute the antidoron.

4. Cloth for the communion of the laity must be used only to protect the Holy Mysteries from possible falling on the floor and for wiping the spoon only. Wiping of the mouths of the communicants must be with paper napkins which will be burnt. The cloths should be boiled and washed with due reverence after each liturgical use.

5. Communicants should refrain from kissing the Chalice.

Concerning the performance of the sacraments of Baptism and Anointing

6. Strictly adhere to the practice of changing and consecrating water for each individual case. In this regard, the sacrament of Baptism is performed only individually with intermediate disinfection (wiping) of the font (baptistery) with a disinfectant liquid.

7. For anointing with oil, use a cotton swab (instead of a string) and a paper napkin (instead of a sponge), followed by burning.

Concerning the performance of the sacrament of unction

8. When anointing the sick in the temples, use for each parishioner individually disposable cotton swabs, which must be burnt.

Other instructions regarding the performance of services, pastoral practice, and parish life

9. Instead of presenting the cross for kissing at the end of the divine Liturgy and other services, it is recommended to place the cross on the heads of parishioners.

10. Returning to the statutory practice, which has been changed in recent years, anointing at the all-night vigil is performed only in cases when the litias and the consecration of oil are performed. When anointing use for each parishioner separately a disposable string (a cotton swab) with subsequent disposal. In other cases, perform kissing of the gospel or a festive icon (cross) after the polyeleos only with the blessing of the priest and wiping the gospel and icon (cross) after each kissing using a disinfectant solution.

11. Clergymen are advised to refrain from offering their hands for kissing.

12. Use disposable hygiene gloves to distribute the prosphora and consecrated bread at the all-night vigil.

13. Pay special attention to the cleanliness of utensils and liturgical vessels, wiping them after each liturgical use and thoroughly washing them with boiling water.

14. Suspend the work of Sunday schools, as well as parish sections and activities until further notice.

15. If possible, the social services of parishes and monasteries should help elderly parishioners to deliver food and essential goods to their homes.

General instructions

16. Abbots should instruct employees of parishes and monasteries to strictly observe general hygiene measures, including hand disinfection during the day (at least once every 2 hours).

17. Provide frequent airing of churches, parish and monastery premises.

18. Regularly treat the surfaces of  temple furniture (including places for writing notes, candle boxes, etc.), as well as door handles with disinfectant solutions.

19. Regularly treat with disinfecting solutions icons located in the Church, which are applied to the parishioners.

20. Clergymen, clergy, and employees of parishes and monasteries should be responsible and attentive to their well-being. If you feel unwell, immediately inform the rector and seek medical help.

21. Abbots and rectors are required to measure the temperature before the start of the working day (for example, using a non-contact thermometer) for priests, clergy, and church employees who interact with a large number of parishioners.

22. Explain to parishioners that the implementation of the imposed regulations and restrictions should be performed as following the words of the Holy Scripture:” do not tempt the Lord your God ” (MT. 4:7). Also explain to parishioners that in case of symptoms of flue or other infectious diseases, they should refrain from visiting churches for the sake of love for their neighbors and care for them.

[1] – in particular: communion of patients with infectious diseases after other communicants (or even at a separate service) with wiping after each communicant with a cloth and then burning it; the use of a separate vessel for the patients and the spoon, washing them in vinegar with the pouring of the latter into a dry well