With the message that “death and Hades are defeated”, the Patriarch of Serbia Irenej addresses the faithful, in his Easter message, emphasizing that “The resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is the unwavering Foundation of not only our faith and our Church, but our entire existence and all that is.”
Patriarch Irenej also refers to the history of the Serbian people, recalling the course of the Serbian Church, stating that “we, brothers and sisters, the Christ-bearing Serbian people, view ourselves and our history in the light of the Resurrection of Christ. We are people of the Cross and Resurrection. We suffer with Christ, and with Him we resurrect. All of our history is cross-bearing and Christ-resurrectional, located between Golgotha and the Resurrection.”
He reminds that last year, “we celebrated the grand jubilee, the eight hundred years of autocephaly of our Church. In that jubilee, we have looked at the breadth, depth and height of our existence for the past eight hundred years. This year of the Blessing of the Lord, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the restoration of the status of the Patriarchate of our Church.”
He also refers “to our brothers and sisters in our martyred Kosovo and Metohjia” and calls on faithful to pray for them. A special mention is made to Montenegro too, όπου “The once proud and admirable Montenegro, known for its valor and heroism, today seeks to take away from our Church what has been hers for centuries, what the entire Serbian people, with their bishops, clergy and monastics, have built and created”.
He also addresses Syria and Iraq, “and around the world, all those who suffer from human injustice and greed! One of the most beautiful and most important countries in the world – Syria – has been nearly destroyed by evil and violence. Let us pray today for all of them and for all suffering people that the Lord will deliver them out of the hands of unrighteous people!”
“This year, we are arriving at and celebrating Pascha under difficult circumstances, in such distress as in which we have rarely welcomed and celebrated it in the past. We live in the days of a pandemic which has suddenly befallen humanity. The whole world is affected and threatened by a single virus. Will the proud and selfish man of today draw any conclusion from that fact? Or will he continue, without repentance and without love, to persevere in the suicidal project of creating his false worldly paradise in which there is no place for either God or for man as a godly, spiritual being? In the face of such adversity we must do everything we can to help ourselves and others understand and support the efforts and programs of the competent health, sanitation and government institutions which are undertaking efforts to protect us from infection. This may be difficult for us at the moment, but we must accept and support everything that is of general benefit and subordinate ourselves and our behavior. Above all, we pray to the Lord God to deliver us from this epidemic and similar dangers! Let us pray to God, let us participate regularly and actively in the Divine Liturgy, repent of our sins, and take care of our own health and that of others! This is an opportunity for us to think carefully about ourselves and the whole world. Look, one virus has shaken and brought to its knees the whole world and put the health and lives of millions of people at risk! “Calm down, O you prideful man!” – advised Dostoevsky in his time. His message is, we would say, more relevant today than it was when it was delivered.
In the joy of Christ’s Resurrection, we have all of you, dear spiritual children, you in our homeland and you scattered throughout the world, in our prayers and paternally greet you all with the all-joyous salutation: Christ is Risen!”