In the seventh prayer of the preparatory service for Holy Communion we pray: "You know the multitude of my evil-doings, You also know my wounds, and You see my bruises. But You also know my faith, and You behold my willingness, and You hear my sighs. Nothing escapes You, my God, my Maker, my Redeemer, not even a tear-drop, nor part of a drop!”
From the beginning of creation to the present, the human race has received innumerable blessings from God, which we continually seek in our common worship. Despite our sinfulness, we take courage in approaching God with our supplications. The Prayer which the Priest addresses to God during the Divine Liturgy at the 3rd Antiphon ends with the words: Lord we are asking You of all these “Because You are good and loving [charitable] God …” Similarly the Priest, after the series of petitions (which is called “The Great Litany”) in all holy Services, pronounces aloud: “For you are benevolent and charitable God …”
On this first Sunday after Pascha, the Gospel reading and hymns all speak of the doubt that St. Thomas the Apostle showed with regard to the Resurrection of Christ (even with the assurances of the other Apostles). The Holy Gospels also reveal that the other Apostles showed the same skepticism, despite the testimony of the Myrrh-bearing women (see Luke 24:11,21, 37).
FOR HOLY PASCHA
Prot. No. 289
+ B A R T H O L O M E W
BY GOD’S MERCY
ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE-NEW ROME
AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH
TO THE PLENITUDE OF THE CHURCH:
MAY THE GRACE, PEACE AND MERCY
OF CHRIST RISEN IN GLORY BE WITH YOU ALL
* * *
Having completed the soul-profiting Lent and venerated the Lord’s Passion and Cross, behold today we are rendered participants of His glorious Resurrection, radiant through the feast and crying out with ineffable joy the world-saving announcement: “Christ is Risen!”
All that we believe, all that we love, and all that we hope as Orthodox Christians is associated with Pascha, from which everything derives its vividness, through which everything is interpreted, and in which everything acquires its true meaning. The Resurrection of Christ is the response of the Divine love to the anguish and expectation of man, but also to the “yearning” of creation that groans with us. In the Resurrection the meaning of “let us make man in our image and likeness” and of “God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good” has been revealed.