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from issue no. 02/03 - 2010

The renewal of joy in Christ

The meditation of Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, written for 30Days for Holy Easter

by Kirill the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia

Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, during the Easter liturgy in the cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow, 19 April 2009 [© ITAR-TASS]

Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, during the Easter liturgy in the cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow, 19 April 2009 [© ITAR-TASS]

Let us try to ask ourselves a question: is there at least one thing immutable in this world that is constantly changing?
It is obviously not a matter of our personal feelings, beliefs and memories, which are the essence of human selfhood and are destined to disappear sooner or later from the earthly life with us, their titular owners.
Nor is it our planet, on which the human race has spent its existence since the time of Adam and Eve, as geological history attests. For instead of the present deserts and high mountains the ocean once stretched, and even the magnetic poles of the earth periodically change their locations.
Nor even the laws of nature, which only at first sight appear settled once and for all, untouchable and unchangeable, because through the will of the Creator of heaven and earth, if necessary, thanks to His great miracles “the natural order” is soon subdued.
Nor is it the very appearance of homo sapiens, whose image in the likeness of God is already beginning to suffer from serious distortions, for example as a result of sex change operations, now become a matter of course. And who knows whether profound biological mutations of the human race do not lie ahead of us, ever more insistently forecast as the outcome of the poisonous effects of post-industrial technology on living organisms, from the uncontrolled developments of genetic engineering or the problems of cloning. Not to mention the triumph announced by the prophets of cyber culture, who promise the inevitable integration into a single entity of the human intellect and cybernetics, and the radical de-humanization of the future world.
And therefore, is it possible that there is nothing in spiritual and material being that might be considered an unconditioned constant, as the alpha and omega of existence, as the beginning of every beginning and measure of all things? Obviously that is not the case. I am convinced that were such a situation to occur in our lives, there would be no creature in the universe more unhappy than man.
Whereas this absolute principle is present in our world, and it is accessible to all people without exception. What principle is this? According to the doctrine of the Church Fathers, it comes from all eternity, without beginning, uncreated, without end, immutable, unchangeable, indivisible, free from materiality, untouchable... Moreover, this principle also embodies in itself the fullness of holiness, goodness and vital energy with which it feeds us throughout life. Because the beginning of all beginnings is our Creator, our Lord and God, who is “yesterday, today and always the same” (Heb 13, 8). He is the cornerstone of being, the only infallible criterion of truth of all that exists, the starting point and destination of our earthly pilgrimage.
So the arrival in this world of God Almighty, who deigned to become incarnate in frail, helpless and suffering human nature, will until the end of time remain both the main event of world history and of the spiritual biography of each person in all the human generations that follow on one another. We know: God became man so that man might become God, gaining immortality.
And now, we, Christians, out of the fullness of our hearts that believe in salvation, we thank the Lord for making us worthy again of entering into communion with His sacrifice of love, of immersing ourselves once again in this ineffable joy of His holy Resurrection, of His resplendent victory over mortal darkness, of His filial obedience to the Heavenly Father.
Blessed Abbot Dorotheus of Gaza, a Christian hermit canonized by the early Church, who distinguished himself in the 6th century in Palestine, and whose memory both Orthodox and Catholics honor, striving for the most precise mathematical metaphor likened God to the center of the circle, and men to points on its surface. It follows that the more these points approach the center of the circle the smaller becomes the distance between them and the more orderly they approach one another. “This is the property of love,” concludes the wise starets: “The more we find ourselves outside without loving God, the more everyone moves away from his neighbor. Whereas if we love God, the more love brings us closer to God himself, the more we unite in love of our neighbor, and the more we unite with our neighbor, the more we unite with God.” Because the real objection to man’s being is his sinfulness, which bars to the action of divine grace the doors of our heart, which does not wish or cannot respond to love with love.

In the days of the feast of luminous Easter of the Lord, all Christians unite again in the essential, in the shared experience of His glorious event. And hearing the announcement addressed to us: “Christ is risen!” we witness in response: “Truly He is risen.”

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