K S E N O F O N T
by God’s grace Orthodox Bishop
of the Diocese of Ras and Prizren in Exile
to all the spiritual children, Monks, Clergy and faithful people
of the Diocese of Ras-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija in EXILE
we proclaim the all-powerful Easter greeting:
CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!
The angel cried to the Lady Full of Grace: Rejoice, O Pure Virgin!
Again I say: Rejoice!
Your Son is risen from His three days in the tomb!
With Himself He has raised all the dead!
Rejoice, all you people!
Shine! Shine! O New Jerusalem!
The Glory of the Lord has shone on you!
Exalt now and be glad, O Zion!
Be radiant, O Pure Theotokos,
in the Resurrection of your Son!
(Irmos, Ode 9, The Paschal Canon)
Our dear brothers and sisters, our spiritual children! With these words the Archangel Gabriel brought joy to the All-Holy Theotokos, exactly when he revealed to Her in Nazareth such a big and deep mystery (Feast of the Annunciation) – that the Son of the Most High would become the Son of the Virgin, that the Holy Spirit would come upon the Virgin, that the power of the Most High would overshadow Her full of Grace, that the God would become a Man, that the Adam’s curse would be lifted, that the salvation of mankind would begin. All this we sing in the troparion the Feast of the Annunciation – ’’today is the beginning of our salvation, the revelation of the eternal mystery…’’. And behold, the joy announced in Nazareth is now coming out of the grave and that joy is being announced by the Angels to the tearful Myrrhbearers and fearful Apostles. This joy is being announced to all of us, brothers and sisters, as we are celebrating today – during this holy, all-festive and all-redeeming night – the most Bright and Glorius Resurrection of Christ.
And indeed, the words ’’Rejoice!’’ and ’’Rejoice all you people!’’ to this day reverberate throughout the Ecumene. This joy quivers on the faces of all of you and all of us on this Paschal morning, as we are celebrating and proclaiming to the world with one voice and one heart
such a big and greatest joy – for a weary, impoverished, frightened, lonesome, benumbed man, burdened by sin – through the marvelous and all-powerful greeting: ’’Christ is Risen!’’.
Is there any message more beautiful for mankind than that which says that there is life beyond the grave and Resurrection after the Cross? ’’He has risen! He is not here’’ – with powerful voice announce the Angels from the grave. And there is no greater or more glorious name under the Sun than the name of Christ, there is no more joyful greeting than this Paschal one, there is no more beautiful and triumphant song than the Paschal troparion: ’’Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling death, and to those in the tombs granting life!’’. What a short Christian hymn, in which is contained all the essence of the Christian victory through the Resurrection of the One Who said:
’’but take heart, I have overcome the world!’’; the essence of victory over the devil of the One Who smashed the bares and the gates of Hades by stabbing the very heart of it with a wooden spear of the Cross and descending into Hades with His all-pure soul as God; the essence of victory over the sin thanks to Him, Who had condemned the sin by virtue of His Body; the essence of victory over the death of the One Who is Risen from the grave as God-man, in order to raise His divinized Body to the Throne of Heaven, from which He – with Father and Son – reigns unto the ages of ages. Wonderful is, indeed, this day which the Lord has made, let us exult and rejoice in it! On that wonderful day, the penitent thief obtained Heaven on the cross, Adam grasped the right hand of the Lord (instead of the ground cursed because of him) and Adam as justified came out of Hades, Eve watched (instead of the curse of pangs) God, Who had descended into Hades, while womanhood is the first to hear the joyful message that the tomb was empty, that the strips of linen with the cloth were lying aside, that the Teacher was Risen from the grave and that He should ascend to His Father.
How wonderful words, how lovely hymns and songs, how superb lessons with which this day is so strongly marked! This is the eighth day, the everlasting day, the unique day – the day when we feel the true and everlasting spiritual joy!
It’s clear to us, dear brothers and sisters, that today, maybe more than ever, our archenemy and hater tries to annihilate everything that is the greatest, most important and redeeming to us in the humankind and Orthodox-Christian world – i.e. the words and notion of Resurrection, without which even the Cross (a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles) doesn’t make sense. Because the word about the Cross is a foolishness to those who perish and a power of God to us who are being saved, as the Apostle to the Gentiles Paul teaches us in his First
Epistle to the Corinthians.
The man today, lowered in dignity all the way down to the status of poultry and cattle– and notwithstanding all the cries for defence of his rights and dignity – is lonely and rejected, isolated and dishonored. Lamenting and sobbing, he lies down wounded and half-conscious in a pit, in which he was thrown by robbers who are servants of the Prince of this world. And the Good Samaritian, with whose wound we have received healing, because He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases (as the great prophet Isaiah had prophesied to us), He heals our wounds with His own wound and His own suffering, He resurrects us through His Resurrection – as we sing in the Paschal Canon: ’’Yesterday, O Christ, I was buried with Thee, and today I arise with thy arising. Yesterday I was crucified with Thee. Glorify me, O Savior, with Thee in Thy Kingdom’’.
Therefore, we must never allow anyone to separate us from this All-Holy Mystery of the Cross and Resurrection, because only thanks to Christ and His Resurrection we are what we are. Only thanks to that we endure and stay strong in spite of this whirlwind in this sad Valley of Tears and this attacked, dredged and damaged crossroads of Serbian lands. And while – according to the words of Saint Nikolai of Zhicha – for the sake of our people Saint Sava of Serbia kneels before the Lord's Throne and prays for us, while his face is overwhelmed with shame because of our sins, let us do our best, my dear spiritual childern, to follow the steps of the Saint Sava of Serbia and all of our holy ancestors.
And behold, this is the first Easter which we celebrate without our all-hallowed and always mentioned Elder, Bishop and spiritual Father Artemiye, who left us on Earth, we believe, not as orphans, when he crossed from this Valley of Tears to the Land of the Living. We still feel
the presence of our Starets of blessed memory during our prayers and we put hope in his guidance and vigilance over us, if it is pleasing to God and we believe so. We will try to fulfil and complement his hallow legacy to preserve the Orthodox Faith, as he has taught us in word and deed of his life – by being zealous for the Church of God and the Truth of God, by keeping mutual Christian love, brotherly love and hospitality, through which we would be recognized as Disciples of Christ and Little Brothers of Christ and His Apostles. And we are greeting our holy Starets on this solemn day and we are kissing him spiritually with the all-joyful Easter greeting: ’’Christ is
Beware ourselves, our spiritual children, in this period when we are being intimidated by diseases, deaths and sufferings, in order to commend ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God. Let us not be afraid or enslaved by any earthly power, let us not become slaves of men, because we have been bought with a price, as we are always taught by the Apostle Paul in in his First Epistle to the Corinthians. Therefore, let this Mystery of Holy Communion, the Blood and Body of Christ, the Holy Communion which we are receiving today and thanks to which we are hallowed and revitalized, become a pledge that we will never reveal the Mystery of Christ to His enemies and that we will never give Him the traitorous kiss of Judas, as we have just promised. Let us not be yoked together with unbelievers, let us not associate ourselves with heretics and traitors of the Mystery of Christ, let us not dip the sop with Judas, let us estrange ourselves from
dark forces of this world and those who falsify, spoil and renovate the pure Christ's teachings. Let us dauntlessly greet each other with the greeting, which shakes the heaven and the earth and in front of which every devil and death fade away: ’’Christ is Risen!’’.
Let us remember during these solemn and wonderful days all of our suffering and tormented brothers in all Serbian lands, who keep the icon lamp lit, and take good care of icons of Slava (family’s patron saint) in their homes. And we are greeting them all – especially our suffering
brothers and sisters in our Holy Kosovo and Metohija – with all-powerful greeting: ’’Christ is Risen!’’. Let this Bright Resurrection of Christ bring joy and peace to your every sad and tormented soul and quick liberation to all of us from every tyrannical and godless regime, which demands not only what is Caesar’s, but also what is God’s.
We are greeting with with spiritual greeting and all of our Orthodox brothers and sisters all around the Ecumene, who have separated themselves and broken communion with heretical, ecumenist and renovationist bishops, because these bishops have gone astray and
separated themselves from the Church and the Truth that were bequeathed once and for all by all the Saints. And with great pleasure we are greeting all those and congratulate them the Feast of Feasts, who – by confessing the Truth of Orthodox Faith – have decided to come under the omophorion of our holy Starets (and now under our omophorion) in Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Austria, Great Britain and all the way to the far-off USA. We wish them to remain prudently and always within the hallow boundaries of Holy Orthodoxy, reasonably acting with zeal for the Church of God in the future. To all of you, in all four corners of the Ecumene, we are rejoicingly proclaiming: ’’Christ is Risen!’’.
Together with this cordial, prayerful and joyful greetings to all of you, we are greeting you once more and we remind you, on this lovely and hallow Night of Easter, that every power on earth is only temporary and that only Power and Justice of God last now and forever and to the ages of ages. With such thoughts, let us all rejoice Today by kissing each other, by rejoicing for the sake of one another, by greeting each other with this marvelous greeting:
Christ is Risen! – He is Risen indeed!
Prayerfully remembering you all before the Throne of Our Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ:
+ Bishop Ksenofont, Bishop of Diocese of Ras and Prizren in Exile
+ Chorbishop Nikolaj of Stara Raska and Loznica
+ Chorbishop Maksim of Novo Brdo and Panonia
+ Chorbishop Naum of Hvosno and Barajevo
Pascha of the year 2021,
in the Monastery of all-Holy Panagia Tricherousa, Musvete.