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Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk celebrates Pa…

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk celebrates Paschal services.

Communications Service of the DECR, 24.04.2022.

On the night of 24th April 2022 on the feast of the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate the metropolitan of Volokolamsk Hilarion celebrated the Paschal services of the Midnight Office, the procession of the Cross, Paschal matins and the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom in the Moscow Church of Our Lady of the Joy of All-Afflicted on Bolshaya Ordynka Street. Concelebrating with the bishop were the clergy of the church.

The festive hymns were sung by the Moscow Synodal Choir under the direction of merited artist of Russia Alexei Puzakov.

Before the start of the procession of the Cross metropolitan Hilarion addressed the following words to those present:

“We have just celebrated the Paschal Midnight Office and before beginning Paschal matins I would like to say a few words on why we have gathered here.

We have gathered to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ who has risen fr om the dead in order that we may taste of the Paschal joy which we experience every time we hear of Christ’s resurrection.

Last year we asked ourselves how could we rejoice when so many people died in their beds of illness. So today we may ask ourselves how can we rejoice when people are dying on the battlefield, when thousands of people have been left homeless, when there is so much suffering around. What is there to rejoice in and why should we rejoice?

We go to church not to forget about those who suffer. We go in order to be part of that joy which, as the Lord said to his disciples, “no one can take from you” (Jn 16.22). This joy, the source of which is God, comes too into our hearts.

People have celebrated Pascha in the most arduous and tragic of circumstances. Testimony has come down to us of how in the Stalinist camps bishops, priests and Orthodox lay people who lived in the most terrible of conditions secretly, out of sight of the guards, came together to glorify the risen Lord. And many of those who participated in this secret worship said that they had never experienced such joy in their lives even when they lived their lives in freedom and celebrated Pascha in far more solemn settings.

Those of us who remember the Soviet period, when great efforts were made to uproot faith from the hearts of people, recall what happened when people gathered not only in churches, but around the churches, on the squares and streets and lanes, when thousands and tens of thousands of people stood holding candles. Those who saw this can never forget that sea of people and flames. And those who never saw this can ever probably understand how, in spite of ferocious persecution, in spite of how all the resources of the state were aimed at extinguishing faith, this faith was preserved. Crowds of people would come to hear the priest exclaim: “Christ is risen!” so that the people would reply: “Truly he is risen!”

We, the faithful, have no need of proof that Christ is risen. We know this through our own spiritual experience, for we have encountered Christ in our lives. Yet there are people who do not believe in Christ’s resurrection or in the existence of God at all. That is their right, that is their business and that is their tragedy. And in order to bear witness before them to Christ’s resurrection, we begin the service not within the church but beyond its walls. We go around the church building and begin the Paschal service before the closed doors of the church, and it is there that we for the first time proclaim that Christ is risen. We then enter the church bathed in light wh ere we continue our Paschal solemnities.

At the conclusion of Paschal matins, we hear the Catechetical Oration of Saint John Chrysostom dedicated to the meaning of the event we are celebrating. We then change from white to red vestments as a reminder that our joy has been purchased at a great price – the price of the blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who suffered, died and rose again for our salvation.

It is with these feelings and thoughts that we shall glorify our risen Lord Jesus Christ. We shall retain the joy of this feast for many days, weeks and months ahead and share it with all those who do not have this joy – with the suffering, the sick and the afflicted. May their hearts too be filled with the joy that no one can ever take from us. Amen.”

At Paschal matins hegumen Philaret (Tambovsky) read out the Catechetical Oration of Saint John Chrysostom for Holy Pascha.

The Paschal Gospel (Jn 1. 1-17) was read aloud by metropolitan Hilarion and the clergy concelebrating with him in Greek, English, French, Spanish, Latin, Church Slavonic and modern Russian.

After the Litany of Fervent Supplication, the prayer was read for the cessation of hostilities in Ukraine.

At the communion verse hegumen Philaret (Tambovsky) read aloud the Paschal Message of His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus Kirill to the archpastors, pastors, monks and nuns and all the faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church.

After the Prayer beyond the Ambo the Paschal artos was blessed.

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