Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
I greet the clergy and laity of our Slavic Orthodox Vicariate, beloved in the Lord, on the joyful feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior.
The “anastasis” (resurrection) of Christ reveals to us the great mystery of God’s love. By His resurrection, the Son of God destroyed the gates of Hades, trampled down death by death, and liberated humanity bestowing the promise of eternal life. He opened to us the participation in the fullness of the joy of the Kingdom of God and the hope for the future resurrection. When the myrrh-bearing women went to announce the resurrection of Jesus to the Apostles, the Lord met them and said, “Rejoice!” (Matthew 28.9). From that blessed moment, genuine joy was born in the world, which cannot and will not be equal to any other; the joy of victory over death.
The Resurrection of Our Lord is inextricably linked to His sufferings and His Cross. Faith in Jesus Christ and following Him in our mundane human existence can give meaning to the trials we face in our lives. For many years we carried the cross of serving in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), which led us straight to Golgotha. Together with Christ, that suffering was turned into goodness as today we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and our spiritual rebirth as part of the Ecumenical Mother Church of Constantinople.
This Pascha is the second celebrated by the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate of America. With God’s help, the blessing and prayers of His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, and the paternal care of Archbishop Elpidophoros, we are working to establish more parishes that unite Orthodox Christians from different Slavic countries on American soil. Despite many challenges, All-Merciful God also gives us strength to overcome them. Those difficulties will certainly lead to new opportunities to expand our Vicariate and find new joy in the Lord. 2020 marked a historical event for our faithful in Miami with the installation and consecration of the main dome of the Cathedral of St. Matrona of Moscow, which was performed by Archbishop Elpidophoros. Despite many challenges on this path, much spiritual joy was received when the Lord accompanied this long-awaited event with a miraculous omen to strengthen us in our faith. The heavy rain that had continued non-stop since the early morning ceased at the beginning of the consecration. The clearing allowed the Archbishop to be elevated on a crane to the central dome and consecrate it. The clergy and faithful below held their breaths and prayed. The sky remained clear long enough for the event to finish, after which it began to rain again.
In 2021 another celebration is ahead of us. This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the first and only church on American soil dedicated to our beloved St. Matrona of Moscow. This will be a great holiday for both the faithful of Miami as well as Orthodox Christians throughout America who have experienced her blessings and divine assistance after praying before her relics. With her prayers, may the risen Lord Jesus Christ fill our hearts with true faith and joy!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, during these holy days I wish you the courage to follow the Savior and be His faithful disciples and beloved children.
Christ is risen! Truly He is Risen!
Archimandrite Alexander Belya,
Vicar of the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate of America