On Bright Friday, April 21, in the assembly hall of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Hanoi, Priest Yevgeny Tsukalo met with compatriots and embassy staff dedicated to the feast of the Resurrection of Christ.
Easter Bright Week is a special time of the year. The whole week passes as one day – the Easter service is repeated daily with processions, fasts are cancelled, all prayers are replaced with Easter hymns, and believers try to take Communion daily (where there is such an opportunity). According to Orthodox tradition, clergy and believers visit neighboring parishes this week to prayerfully share Easter joy with spiritual brothers and sisters. This tradition has already been instilled in the Philippines. On Mindanao island, Easter services were performed continuously during the Bright Week in different parishes by the clergy of the diocese, headed by the Secretary of the diocese, Hieromonk Korniliy (Molev): on Monday – in the church of St. Thomas in the village of Kinabalan; on Tuesday – in the church of the Resurrection of Christ in General Santos with priests Roman Buniel and Matthew Sale; on Wednesday – in the church of the Resurrection of Christ in Lake Cebu with the same clerics. On Bright Thursday, the Easter service was held in the church of St. Ignatius in the village of Lambayong in the concelebration of Priest Roman Buniel. On Friday, the service was held in the church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos in Arakan in the concelebration of Priest Moses Kahilig and deacons Raphael Frajillo and Anthony Aranco, and on Saturday – in the church of St. Seraphim of Sarov in Makalangot with Priest Nikolai Salgado. Deacon Juventinus Bulaqueña accompanied the Secretary of the diocese during the whole tour.
On April 23, 2017, the first parish of the Russian Orthodox Church after World War II was opened in Manila – in honor of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God (the parish of the same name existed in Manila in the 1920s-1940s). Like today, 6 years ago it was also Antipascha, or Thomas Sunday. And now, six years later, the first Liturgy was served today at the new parish of the Manila Deanery – in honor of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in the city of Bakoor.
On Saturday of the Bright Week, a new parish was born in Tagaytay. At the end of the Easter service, 26 people were baptized at once – the community of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker of the city of Bacoor (Manila deanery). The sacraments were performed jointly by the dean Hieromonk Alexei (Lapshin), the rector of the parish of Christ the Savior in Tagaytay, Priest David Grubbs and Priest Agustin Ponferrada. The community in Bacoor has been headed for many years by the elder Nicolas Canopen, a former bishop of one of the non-canonical denominations who converted to Orthodoxy, now together with his flock. Many years to them and to all Orthodox Christians!
Tuesday of the Bright Week is the Patronal feast of the parish of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God in Manila. At the end of the Easter Service, the ceremony of swearing of the first ataman of the Cossacks in the Philippines, Daniel Foronda, was performed. The ceremony was attended remotely by the Ataman and the Cossacks of the Cossack Society of Solnechnogorsk city, Moscow region, the Special Cossack Society of the Moscow region, the Military Cossack Society “Central Cossack Guard”, together with the chairman of the Board for the care of the Cossacks at the Department for Interaction with the Armed Forces, law enforcement agencies and the Cossacks of the Sergiev Posad diocese, Archpriest Alexander Azarov.
Cossacks are frontliners of Orthodox laity. Historically they appeared on outskirts of Russia as defenders of Orthodox Church and Fatherland.
“This day, that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad therein!” What is the eternal joy of this event of two thousand years ago? Because we have such a God! Who created the universe, and washes the feet of the disciples. Whom the angels tremble, but He ascended the Cross for us and is ready to ascend it again if it were necessary for our salvation, and is ready to forgive even a traitor. Our God truly loves us and waits for us. That’s why we can’t help but be happy today.
TO THE GOD–LOVING FLOCK OF THE PHILIPPINE-VIETNAMESE DIOCESE.
“Take heart: I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Beloved fathers in the Lord, dear brothers and sisters! Having passed the saving path of Great Lent, we celebrate the feast of the Bright Resurrection of Christ in spiritual joy and heartfelt rejoicing. During the days of Holy Fasting, each of us sought to resist sin, purify the soul with prayer and good deeds in order to prepare for the meeting with the Risen Lord. And the words of the Angels addressed to the myrrh-bearing women who came to the empty Tomb of the Lord sound to us as an invaluable reward: “What are you looking for the Living among the dead? He is not here: He is risen” (Luke 24:5-6)! On this saving and radiant night, I greet each of you, my dear ones, with the words of an ancient and eternally new greeting that inspire true joy and unbreakable hope: Christ is Risen! This life-affirming greeting always pleases our heart, filling it with Easter jubilation and festive celebration. Easter is a truly Bright day of our life, which without it would seem like a dead, dreary desert. God has granted us the grace to celebrate it again, and we are all in a hurry to exchange our greetings with each other. May the heart of every Christian be opened to receive the great mystery of salvation, and may it be illuminated with divine light, so that through faith we may become sons of light, to the feeling of the Kingdom of God, which “is within us.” May our Lord, who has risen from the dead on the days of Holy Easter, renew our faith, our love for Him, our willingness to bear everything for His sake. My dear ones, I cordially congratulate all of you on the luminous feast of Holy Easter. “Come, all ye believers, let us worship the holy resurrection of Christ, for joy to the whole world is coming with the Cross….” I prayerfully wish that with the light of His Resurrection Christ would illuminate our souls and our sorrows, so that He would turn into unfading spiritual joy, which, according to His divine word, no one and nothing can steal from us. Christ is Risen! CHRIST IS TRULY RISEN!
BY THE GRACE OF GOD,
METROPOLITAN PAVEL OF MANILA AND HANOI
Easter of Christ, 2023
Тo the Most Reverend bishops, clergy, monastics, and all the orthodox flock of the Patriarchal Exarchate of South-East Asia.
To Archpastors, Pastors, Deacons, Monasticsand All Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church
Beloved in the Lord archpastors, all-honourable presbyters and deacons, God-loving monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters! I address all of you, Orthodox Christians living in many countries of the world, who are now in churches or praying in your homes, to extend greetings to you on the great feast of Holy Pascha with my heart full of spiritual joy, and to proclaim victoriously in accord with the ancient tradition: CHRIST IS RISEN! It is in these very words that the Holy Church has been triumphantly proclaiming the glad tidings of the God-given salvation for two thousand years. In them is the fire of our faith, the strength of love, the foundation of hope, the cornerstone of the Church, the heart of the New Testament message to the world, the unfading light of enlightenment and the source of inspiration, the core of Christian life and our entire future. Whatever happens in our ever-changing, sometimes restless and conflict-torn world, whatever hardships and ordeals befall us, we know, believe and preach that the Paschal joy in the Risen Saviour remains unfailing and all-victorious. What is the meaning of this greatest Christian feast? In the name of what and why did the Son of God come down to earth, take the form of a servant (Phil 2:7), endure sufferings, being crucified on the cross, and rise from the dead? And what do we, people of the 21st century, have to do in order to become true partakers and heirs of Christ’s victory over death? The Church gives us answers to these questions, bearing witness that through the Son of God Who was incarnate of the Most Blessed Virgin hell is led captive, Adam is recalled from the dead, the curse is made void, Eve is set free, death is slain, and we are endowed with life (Sunday Theotokion, Stichera at the Praises, tone 2). Truly, the Lord quickens us by His love, delivers us from the fear of death and corruption, heals our spiritual and bodily infirmities, supports us in hardships and trials, comforts in afflictions and sorrows, and helps us follow the path of salvation leading to eternal life when God will wipe away every tear from [people’s] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more (Rev 21:4). Having performed the feat of redemption, through His sacrifice on the cross and glorious Resurrection the Lord opened the gates of heaven to everyone. From then on and to this day, every human being is given an opportunity to wholeheartedly embrace Christ as the true God and Saviour Who grants blessed strength for leading a life of righteousness and actively participating in the transfiguration of the world. Reflecting on the feast of Easter, Saint Nicholas of Serbia, a prominent theologian of the past century, wrote, Christ is risen – it means that life is stronger than death. Christ is risen – it means that good is stronger than evil. Christ is risen – it means that all difficulties in life are resolved (Thoughts on Good and Evil). And this Paschal joy, which is the joy of communion with God and of building up a new life (Rom 6:4) on the basis of goodness and justice, touches the hearts of millions of Christians, inspiring them to do works of charity and mercy, helping to overcome adversities, comforting them in ordeals, giving hope to the desperate and strengthening the faint-hearted. On the radiant feast of Pascha our special prayers are offered to God for people in combat zones. We as Christians cannot remain indifferent to the troubles and hardships of our brothers and sisters whose hearts are seared by the fire of internecine strife. So we lift up our fervent supplications unto the Lord that by His mercy and loving-kindness He may heal bodily and, above all else, spiritual wounds, give comfort in every sorrow and grant a lasting and just peace to the brotherly peoples that came from one Dnieper baptismal font. The earthly life of the Saviour was full of labour and sacrificial love for people, and we are called to become like Him in serving our neighbours, since any, even the smallest virtue, every effort to overcome our own selfishness for the sake of another person, draws us closer to God – the Source of life and immortality – and therefore makes us happier. May the Risen Lord Who in accord with His truthful promise abides with His followers even unto the end of the world (Mt 28:20) vouchsafe us, sinful and infirm, but thirsting for righteousness and seeking salvation, to inherit the blessed life after we complete our earthly journey, so that in the Heavenly mansions prepared… from the foundation of the world (Mt 25:34) we together with saints reign in His eternal glory (St Ambrose of Milan, Hymn “We Praise Thee, O God”). This joyful anticipation of the Kingdom of love to come, of God being everything to every one (1 Cor 15:28) is what the Church preaches at all times and even more so in the radiant Easter season. Let us hearken to the salvific voice of the Church calling us through the Holy Apostle Paul to celebrate Pascha not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Cor 5:8). Let us heed and try to live according to the Divine commandments, by the truth of the Gospel, our good deeds and our whole life bearing witness before those near and those far away that Christ is risen indeed, unto Whom are due all glory, honour and worship unto the ages of ages. Amen.
+KIRILL, PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA
Matins with reading of 12 Gospels of the Passions of the Lord, Vung Tau, Vietnam