Archbishop Elpidophoros, the leader of all the Greek Orthodox in the Americas, issued an encyclical on Tuesday of Holy Week in preparation for Easter, or Pascha, the greatest feast of the Christian year.
The Archbishop, who was just enthroned in June of 2019, had the daunting responsibility of shepherding his flock through the dark days of the pandemic from his seat in New York City, one of the hardest-hit areas in the world during those long months.
Making numerous references to how the coronavirus has challenged the faithful in the past year, Elpidophoros states with joy “How far we have come since Easter of last year! Those were dark days, when our passing of the light of the Resurrection had to be virtual, even if no less heartfelt. But as we all know, it is always darkest before the dawn.”
Now, with a majority of Americans having had at least one coronavirus vaccine dose, and the hope that there will soon be a pill to cure the virus, life is becoming normal once again, with the reopening of restaurants and schools, and churches allowed to welcome at least half of their parishioners at services.
However, the Archbishop cautions against overconfidence, warning his flock “But let this not be an excuse for relaxing our vigilance. Our responsibility to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper and guardian abides.”
The Archbishop also Tweeted a message to the faithful on Holy Tuesday, reflecting on the true contrition of the sinful woman as opposed to the wicked betrayal of Christ on the part of Judas, who had been one of His disciples.
A full listing of all the resources available to the faithful this Pascha may be accessed at the website for the Greek Orthodox Archbishopric of America.
The full text of Elpidophoros’ Easter encyclical is below:
“Archiepiscopal Encyclical on the Feast of Great and Holy Pascha
“Unto the Most Reverend and Right Reverend Hierarchs, Pious Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, Presidents and Members of Parish Councils, Honorable Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Members of Leadership 100, the Day and Afternoon Schools, Philoptochos Societies, the Youth, Greek Orthodox Organizations, and the entirety of the Christ-named Plenitude of the Holy Archdiocese of America.
“My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Ἰδοὺ σκοτία καὶ πρωΐ … (ΕΩΘΙΝΟΝ Ζ’, Ἦχος βαρὺς ) Behold the darkness yet the dawn… (EOTHINON VII, Grave Mode)
“How far we have come since Easter of last year! Those were dark days, when our passing of the light of the Resurrection had to be virtual, even if no less heartfelt. But as we all know, it is always darkest before the dawn. Thus, we behold in the hope of the recovery of our world from the pandemic, the glimmer of the dawning of faith and confidence for our collective future.
“This year, we will celebrate our Holy Pascha – perhaps not in the fullness of the pre-pandemic days, but certainly with a greater degree of freedom and in-person community. But let this not be an excuse for relaxing our vigilance. Our responsibility to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper and guardian abides.
“Our anticipation of the rising of the Sun of Righteousness is within our hearts, like the little sun that Saint Symeon the New Theologian speaks of, which dawned inside of him. The darkness of night that is dispelled at first gradually gives way, shade by shade, until the brilliant solar orb overpowers the horizon.
“Every other star fades in the light of the one. This is also how the fullness of God Almighty overwhelms every shadow in our souls. Like a sleepless night of worry and troubled thoughts, the dark night of the soul can be very long indeed. But as the Psalmist says, “joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 29:5, LXX). And in the dawning of the Day of the Lord, every concern of this world pales before the glory of the world to come.
“The Resurrection of our Lord is the triumph of light over darkness, of good over evil, of love over hate, and of life over death. Moreover, it is the dawn of a new humanity, the potential of every human being to become divine.
“As Saint Athanasios the Great says: “For He became a human being, so that we might made divine” (Αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐνηνθρώπισεν, ἵνα ἡμεῖς θεοποιηθῶμεν). The Lord did not rise from the dead only for Himself. He arose so that we might rise with Him, in this life and the next.
“Therefore, my beloved Faithful, let us embrace the dawn that rises within us. Let us live in the light of Christ, a light filled with love and compassion for every creature. A light that passes no judgment on anyone.
“A light that is clear and transparent with honesty and humility. Let us witness to the truth that indeed: Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs He has granted life!
Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς Ἀνέστη!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
Archbishop of America
The Woman offered tears, myrrh, and true repentance. And Judas conspired for the thirty pieces of silver. One was a great sinner and the other a chosen Disciple. Let us emulate the Woman and give up our sins, and choose a different path from him. pic.twitter.com/Sztb32PIfy
— Elpidophoros (@Elpidophoros) April 27, 2021