2020 Easter Pastoral Letter
Dear brothers and sisters,
the Gospels describing the Easter event testify to the fear of the disciples and, on the other hand, to the joyful reality of Christ’s triumphant resurrection.
“Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Touch Me and see!’” (Jn 20; Lk 24)
The same day at evening… And what happened on that Easter morning? Mary of Magdala is knocking at the door where the terrified disciples are assembled, and she cries out joyfully: “The tomb is empty! The stone has been rolled away! The guards ran away!” The apostles do not believe her. They are struck with fear. Shortly afterwards a group of other women come and tell the same. But the apostles were not relieved of fear. None of them thought to say: “Jesus has told us so many times – the Son of man will be delivered up to death but on the third day He will rise again!” Fear did not allow them to think of that prediction by Jesus.
Mary of Magdala comes again, crying out joyfully: “I have seen the Lord, and this is what He said to me…” The apostles not only hide behind locked doors but their mind, memory and will are closed too. They consider her testimony to be a fake, and still continue in fear. But on the same morning, the other women come again and say: “We have seen the Lord, we have spoken to Him and touched His feet!” Even after the testimony of several women, the apostles are unable to believe and they consider it to be another fake. Only John and Peter overcame fear and ran to the tomb. They went inside, but nowhere was there any sign of violence. The linen cloths Jesus had been wrapped in were lying there empty. John believed. Peter then went to the tomb again, and Jesus Himself appeared to him. When Peter came back, he just said to the others shortly: “The Lord is risen indeed. He has appeared to me!” Despite so many facts, the apostles are still in fear.
And what happened the same day at evening? The fear remained. The Apostle John, as an eyewitness, writes: “The disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews.” Suddenly, someone is knocking on the door again. Two breathless disciples, both talking at once, tell how they met the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus. The apostles also testify to them with their mouth: “Jesus is risen indeed and has appeared to Simon.” Yet fear and unbelief still remained in their hearts. It was manifested in a historic moment, as the evangelist describes: “As they were talking about these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you!’” What was the reaction of the frightened apostles? The Gospel testifies: “They were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Touch Me and see!’” Jesus, by His presence, literally had to cast out the spirit of fear which closed their minds. They supposed Jesus to be a spirit rather than to be really present. Jesus had to convince them: “A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have. Touch Me, it is I Myself.” And He ate a piece of a broiled fish in their presence. Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
For over three months, the spirit of coronavirus has been haunting Europe and the world. Individuals and entire nations have completely opened up to this spirit of manipulation and lies. The first ones were Bergoglio’s Vatican with the like-minded hierarchy. They aroused such fear that people were no longer able to perceive the real facts. The media also release fake news so intensely that those who uncritically believe it lose common sense.
What do the statistics say? On average, 55 million people worldwide die every year. The number of people in whom the coronavirus was coupled with other diseases and who died is 40,000, which is only 0.1%. About 7% of people die from alcohol every year, of which 13% are 20-39 years old. These are official WHO data. Alcohol takes 4 million lives each year, 100 times more than the coronavirus. Tobacco is the cause of death in 15% of the world’s deaths every year. It takes 8 million lives, 200 times more than the coronavirus. It would be useful for women to wear masks instead of smoking and to succumb to healthy panic at such a terrible percentage of smokers’ deaths! All smokers should consequently have the cigarette almost snatched out of their mouths!
As for the rumor about Italy, only 0.16% of the population is actually infected with the coronavirus at present. 0.016% of the population died. In addition, the risk group includes the over-75s, i.e. 80- to 90-year-old people. Besides the coronavirus, these people suffer from other serious diseases they die from. Anyone can find out in real statistics that the horror of overcrowded crematoria, as released by the media, is a fake.
1,890,000 people die annually in Russia. 44 people have died in a quarter of a year when the viral diseases are reaching their peak. But besides the coronavirus, those people suffered from other serious diseases. In percentage terms, it is only 0.0024% of all deaths. Nevertheless, people are seized with fear. If only, instead of panic, at least Christians were alert to the saving fear of death, of God’s judgment and of eternal suffering in hell. Not being mindful of these three realities is a dangerous disregard of truth and loss of sound judgment. People refuse to admit that they will die. Everyone has the painful experience in their own families when their parents, grandparents or close relatives and friends died. No one will avoid death. What kind of darkness is deep inside of us? Where we should have the necessary fear to prevent serious injuries or disasters, we do not have it! However, fake news in the mass media makes us mobilize all our efforts. Why? So that we push ourselves onto the path where the globalist mechanism will cruelly smash us. It will not only prematurely deprive us of health and physical life but will destroy our soul too. It will deprive it of its life so that it will end up in the lake of fire with the false prophet and the beast, where the terrible torment will never end. This distorted fear in us is caused by the source of lies and evil in the human soul, so-called original sin.
The saving fear, by contrast, leads to salvation. Scripture says: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” However, people are exceptionally immune to the saving fear, or even have an aversion to it.
Think of the reality of physical suffering. For example, a gall bladder or kidney attack, or a sharp stone passing through the ureter, causes severe pain. How unbearable was the pain of those who experienced it. And yet physical pain is the lowest degree of pain, lower than mental or spiritual pain.
Maybe you have experienced a painful increasing toothache. You would be willing to undergo whatever medical procedure just to get rid of this pain. And when the pain intensifies, you even forget the instinct for self-preservation and wish to die rather than endure such suffering. People who are in grave sin have separated from God through unbelief or rebellion. If they endure great suffering and die in this state, they will not be relieved. They will pass from temporal suffering into eternal suffering unimaginably greater than that which they experienced on earth.
Now think of mental pain. Such pain is experienced by a mother whose beloved child has been officially stolen from her and she knows that she will never again get her child back. How many of these mothers end up in mental health hospitals, alcoholism, drug addiction or committing suicide! One of the many mothers was deprived of two children and jumped under a train the next day! What terrible mental suffering is experienced both by the mother and by the stolen child!
On the other hand, there is the harsh reality of abortion, which the Church rightly calls the killing of an unborn child. When a woman realizes that she has killed her own child, she suffers deep mental anguish, often for the rest of her life.
Now think also of spiritual pain. Our spirit, which God created in His image, desperately longs for God. If we are overwhelmed by worldly worries or vanities, we are not aware of this inner desire for God. But when our spirit leaves its earthly tabernacle of flesh and we begin to perceive the reality of eternity, we come to know with our whole being that God created us out of love and gave His own Son for us. Jesus died for us on the cross to pay for all our sins. But we did not care for our soul, rejecting the opportunity offered not once but time and again until the last minute of our life. We did not even stop when afflicted by suffering, pain or disappointment. We were thick-skinned about the grace of conversion and wasted our life in the bondage of lies and evil. We turned a deaf ear to the truth that would save us. We refused to turn away from the path of sin. And suddenly we see it is too late! There is no going back. We find ourselves beyond time, in eternity. While being in time, we could receive salvation in Christ free of charge, as a gift, and then perfect happiness forever! We lost this priceless treasure – eternal life – through our own fault! The despair that it can never be changed fills us with hopeless spiritual pain. It is coupled with the mental pain of remorse, and, moreover, with the physical pain of hell torment. This is what should put us into panic rather than some coronavirus associated with media hoaxes! The threat of eternal suffering must force us into quarantine that will make us avoid the near occasion of sin and protect us from the spirit of lies and evil.
It is hard to stand before an earthly court, but it is terrible to stand before the heavenly court. Before the heavenly court, each of us will be proven guilty on all charges. In the case of sins, the time factor is not important; they have no statute of limitations. The defendant’s allegations about not remembering his sins are not taken into account. He does not remember them because he did not want to admit them in his life, and because he deadened his conscience, mind and judgment. He did not receive the love of truth, but preferred to believe a comfortable lie that brought him to eternal death. How terrible it is to hear: “Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity, into the eternal fire. I do not know you.” (Lk 13:27)
Dear brothers and sisters, the most essential thing in our earthly life is to save our immortal soul. If a person loses his arm, leg, eyes, or even if he is totally paralyzed, it is a great misfortune and a great loss, but it cannot be compared to the perdition of his own soul. Jesus emphasizes: “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mk 8:36) Imagine huge balance weighing scales: on one side of the scales there is the whole world and on the other side is your soul. Your soul is worth more than the whole world. “We were not redeemed with gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ!” (1Pet 1:18f)
It is at Easter that we are to experience the reality of the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ shed on the cross. The redemptive death of the Son of God has delivered us from the bondage of the devil and eternal hell! The condition on your part is to personally accept this salvation, this liberation from sin and guilt. How? Through faith in Jesus Christ and repentance of your sins. Jesus said on the day of His resurrection: “Thus it is written: Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day. Repentance and remission of sins will be preached in His name to all nations.” (Lk 24:46f)
This is the joy of Easter! Christ suffered and rose on the third day. In His name, repentance and remission of sins is being proclaimed to all nations! And to you as well! Give Him therefore your sins with faith! He forgives you. This Easter joy is confirmed by the reality of Christ’s physical resurrection! He has proven that He is the Son of God and that His Word which He has given us is the unchangeable and eternal truth! He is truly your Resurrection and your Life!
His words are directed to you who have received Jesus: “Peace be with you! Do not be afraid, it is I Myself! I am with you always, all the days of your life!” (Mt 28) And this refers to you personally: Peace be with you! Hallelujah!
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
and Bishops of the Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate
Resurrection Day 2020