THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH TO HER SPIRITUAL CHILDREN AT PASCHA, 2014
I R I N E J
BY THE GRACE OF GOD ORTHODOX ARCHBISHOP OF PEC, METROPOLITAN OF BELGRADE-KARLOVCI AND SERBIAN PATRIARCH, WITH ALL THE HIERARCHS OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH – TO ALL THE CLERGY, MONASTICSS, AND ALL THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF OUR HOLY CHURCH: GRACE, MERCY AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER, AND OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, WITH THE JOYOUS PASCHAL GREETING:
CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!
Today is the Spring-time of our souls,
For coming forth from the tomb,
Christ shines like the sun, Dispelling the gloom of our sins!
We will sing out to Him, for gloriously has He been glorified!
(Paschal service hymn)
When an early spring arrives after a long and cold winter, all of nature and God's creation rejoices in the sun and its warm rays and energy which illuminates and warms everything and all things without exception. Everything then glorifies the Lord, the Giver of sun and spring. So do we, dear brothers and sisters and our dear spiritual children, after a cold and terrible winter of sin, especially after the killing of the God-Man Jesus Christ on Holy Friday on Golgotha, seeing today the Resurrected Christ, do we joyfully exclaim and sing: Today is the Spring-time of our souls! Christ – the Sun of life from the East – has risen and shone from the tomb. He has expelled a dark storm of our sins! Him let us magnify for He has been glorified! That is why we are joyful today, that is why together with the angels in heaven and with all people of this world do we gloriously sing: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.
According to the New Testament, Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by the Temple Guards through the guidance of his disciple, Judas Iscariot. Judas received money for betraying Jesus. He told the guards that whomever he kisses is the one they are to arrest. Jesus was brought to the house of Annas, who is the father-in-law of the current high priest, Caiaphas. There he is interrogated with little result, and sent bound to Caiaphas the high priest, where the Sanhedron had assembled (John 18:1-24).
Conflicting testimony against Jesus is brought forth by many witnesses, to which Jesus answers nothing. Finally the high priest adjures Jesus to respond under solemn oath, saying "I adjure you, by the Living God, to tell us, are you the Anointed One, the Son of God?" Jesus testifies in the affirmative, "You have said it, and in time you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty, coming on the clouds of Heaven." The high priest condemns Jesus for blasphemy, and the Sanhedron concurs with a sentence of death (Matthew 26:57-66). Peter also denies Jesus three times during the interrogations. Jesus already knew that Peter would deny him three times.
On Holy and Great Thursday Serbian Patriarch Irinej celebrated the Holy Liturgy with the concelebration of local clergy at the Cathedral church in Belgrade. His Grace Bishop Andrej of Remesiana and the faithful of the Serbian capital attended the service.
On the evening of this day, which was the eve of the feast of unleavened bread (that is, the Passover), our Redeemer supped with His twelve disciples in the city. He blessed the bread and the wine, and gave us the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist. He washed the feet of the disciples as an example of humility. He said openly that one of them was about to betray Him, and He pointed out the betrayer by revealing that it was he "that dippeth his hand with Me in the dish." And after Judas had straightway gone forth, Jesus gave the disciples His final and sublime instructions, which are contained in the first Gospel Reading of the Holy Passion (John 13:31-18:1 known as the Gospel of the Testament). After this the God-man went forth to the Mount of Olives, and there He began to be sorrowful and in anguish. He went off alone, and bending the knees He prayed fervently. From His great anguish, His sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground. As soon as He had completed that anguished prayer, lo, Judas came with a multitude of soldiers and a great crowd; on greeting the Teacher guile fully with a kiss, he betrayed Him.
Bishop Teodosije of Raska-Prizren has undertaken a pilgrimage in the Holy Land, where he is going to participate in celebrations of the Feast of Resurrection of Christ.
On Lazarus Saturday the Bishop visited Bethany, where he concelebrated to Patriarch Teophilos of Jerusalem during the Divine Liturgy celebrated in the church built on the place of Lazarus’ home. In the afternoon the Bishop and many pilgrims in the Holy city participated in the solemn procession from Bethphage to Jerusalem in memory of the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem. On Palm Sunday Bishop Teodosije concelebrated during the Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Beatitude Patriarch Teophilus of Jerusalem in the great church of the Resurrection of Christ.