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
On April 2, the memorial evening was held in the assembly hall of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. Its theme was spiritual missions in the countries of the Asia-Pacific region and African countries. After the opening remarks, the audience watched a video about the life of Orthodox communities on the territory of the Patriarchal Exarchate of Southeast Asia. A report on the current state of the mission in Indonesia was made by students of the preparatory department for foreign students: Sejati Moses, Shakti Gerasim and Simanjuntak Sergiy. In their message, they spoke about the current state of the mission of the Southeastern Exarchate in Indonesia: The preaching of Christianity in Asia is traditionally associated with the name of the Apostle Thomas, one of the closest disciples of the Savior of the World. Today, the clergy of the exarchate, serving in 13 countries and five time zones, are united in 4 dioceses – Singapore, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines-Vietnam. The exarchate employs 75 clerics serving in 79 parishes and spiritually nurturing tens of thousands of parishioners. Most of the communities consist of local residents, Russian compatriots make up about 20%. Striving for the formation of national Orthodoxy, Metropolitan Sergius pays special attention to the training of priests from among the local population, therefore seminarians from South-East Asia study in theological schools in Russia. Special attention was paid to translation activities in Indonesia: students read several passages from the Holy Scriptures in Indonesian. “By reading examples of poems in Tagalog, you can appreciate the beauty of writing and the skill of the authors, regardless of whether you are familiar with Tagalog or not. However, we have a great opportunity to get in touch with the amazing Tagalog poetry in the original,” said the host of the evening, a first–year student of the church-practical department of the magistracy, reader Ivan Ivanov. One of the most striking examples of a poetic text in Tagalog called “The Test of our Life” was read by a student of the preparatory department for foreign students Joasaf Nunez. In the second part of the evening, the main agenda was the topic of the mission of the Russian Orthodox Church in the countries of the African continent. Before the reports, a fragment of an interview with Patriarchal exarch Metropolitan Leonid (Gorbachev) about the current state of missionary service in African countries was shown. “Talking about the mission and the history of African countries is not new for our Theological Academy. In the 60s of the XX century, Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov) of Leningrad and Novgorod opened the Faculty of African Youth. And from that moment on, students from African countries arrive to study in the Northern Capital,” said the evening’s host, reader Ivan Ivanov.The students’ reports alternated with various musical numbers. It is impossible to talk about the culture of other countries without ever coming into contact with it. In order to include all listeners in the rich culture of Africa, students of the preparatory program for learning the Russian language from the countries of the Patriarchal Exarchate of Africa performed the song “joy for the world”.
Reference: Lenten Memorial Evenings is an annual educational project of the Department of Church History under the leadership of Candidate of Theology, Associate Professor Dmitry Andreevich Karpuk. These evenings highlight the history of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy and the activities of its graduates. SPbDA Press Service
On March 27, 2023, Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi and a pilgrimage delegation headed by His Eminence to the Holy Land visited the shrines of Galilee. The pilgrims visited Cana of Galilee, dived into the waters of the Jordan (Yardenite), visited the holy springs at the courtyard of St. Mary Magdalene.
On March 25, 2023, Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi, who leads a group of pilgrims to the Holy Land, headed the All-night Vigil, and on March 26 – the Divine Liturgy in the church of the Martyr Queen Alexandra, located on the territory of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem. His Eminence was co-served by the head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission, Archimandrite Alexander (Elisov) and the clergy of the mission.
On March 23, 2023, Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi with a pilgrimage group visited the Gornensky Convent in the Holy Land. In the Convent, Bishop Pavel met with Abbess Ekaterina (Chernysheva) and performed a requiem mass at the grave of the former abbess Abbess Georgia (Shchukina). Abbess Georgiya (Shchukina) – honorary abbess of the Gornensky Convent in Jerusalem – passed away to the Lord on February 6, 2022, at the age of 91, after a long illness.
On March 23, 2023, a pilgrimage group led by Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi made a trip to Samaria. The pilgrims visited Shechem (Nablus), the Greek monastery of St. Photinia (Jacob’s Well), the Samaritan Museum, where the Pentateuch of Moses is located, the ruins of Herod’s palace, where St. John the Baptist was executed, as well as the Beheading Church and Mount Garizim.
On March 22, 2023, Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi with a delegation of pilgrims to the Holy Land visited the holy places of Gethsemane. The pilgrims visited the monastery of St. Chariton the Confessor (Faran Lavra), visited the Russian Monastery on the Mount of Olives, the Little Galilee, the Chapel of the Ascension of the Lord on the Mount of Olives, beheld the panorama of Jerusalem. In Gethsemane, the delegation headed by Vladyka Pavel visited the Tomb of the Mother of God, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Russian Gethsemane Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene, and the Mountain Monastery.
These days, Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi heads a delegation making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Russian Russian Orthodox Mission in Jerusalem, founded in 1847 to create a permanent representation of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Holy Land, was visited by Metropolitan Pavel and pilgrims on March 21, 2023. The pilgrims also visited the holy places of Jerusalem: they walked the Way of the Cross, made by Christ and including the Pretoria (the prison of Jesus Christ), the Alexander Courtyard, the threshold of the Gates of Judgment and the Church of the Resurrection of Christ, visited the place of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos and the Sheep Font (Bethesda), Zion (the chamber of the Last Supper), the house of Caiaphas as well as the monastery of John the Baptist.
On March 21, 2023, at the Patriarchal Residence in Jerusalem, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilus III of Jerusalem received Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi. Metropolitan Pavel heads a delegation making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land these days. During the conversation, Metropolitan Pavel told the Primate of the Jerusalem Church about the life of the Khanty–Mansi Metropolia as well as the Philippine –Vietnamese diocese entrusted to his care, highlighting issues related to church building, social projects implemented by the dioceses. The Primate of the Jerusalem Church drew the guests’ attention to the situation of Christians in the Middle East, Israel and Palestine. At the end of the meeting, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilus and Metropolitan Pavel exchanged memorable gifts.