Primate’s Easter Message:

"To me–living is Christ and dying is gain" (Philippians 1:21)

Inspired and enriched by the mystery of the Holy Resurrection of Christ the words of St. Paul are as powerful as a prayer. The same words not only come as powerful prayer echoing in our hearts–but as a way of life–because we realize the truth that "Christ loved us and gave himself up for us–a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Eph. 5:2)

The mystery of the Holy Resurrection of Christ becomes the essence of our spiritual life only when the old person in us is reborn and we fearlessly inaugurate the new man–" to put away your former way of life–your old self–corrupt and deluded by its lusts–and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds–and to clothe yourselves with the new self–created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." (Eph. 4:22-25)

The entire spiritual journey of Lent leas us to the glorious mystery of the Resurrection of Christ–which ushered in for mankind a new life and the Christian believer discovered within himself the divine power that enables one to constantly renew his life to the extent that he feels in his soul the miracle of the new life.

Dear faithful–with a joyous heart we send you our Easter Message and call upon all of you to rededicate you lives to Christ–to enter the depths of the mystery of the Holy Resurrection through the most noble life of prayer–and to discover in your souls the divine grace which makes it possible for us to renew our God-given lives. Undoubtedly each one of us needs the power of regeneration. Life may often be influenced by the manifold temptations of the world–but when a life is established on the cornerstone of the life-giving Resurrection of Christ it can repel the perils that it encounters every day.

The glorious Resurrection of Christ opens before us the dawn of a new life. The Giver of life opens before us a new way in Christ–the Son of God–so that through the sacrifice of His life becomes the spiritual light of a new life for the entire human race. Christ is risen from the dead! Blessed is the resurrection of Christ! The foundation of our Christian faith is the Holy Resurrection of Christ. Without the Resurrection of Christ Christianity would become for us a set of moral principles for life and a guiding doctrine. But Christianity is life itself–the source of salvation–because it is anchored in the personal sacrifice of Christ. Christianity is the movement from the mind to the heart that is dawned first in our own thoughts and then becomes the moving energy of our entire being. It is not possible to explain in words alone our faith in the Holy Resurrection. The Resurrection of Christ is ever spreading force that is kneaded in our essence and separates us from the foreign thoughts that have no root in God. In the words of St. Nerses the Graceful we subject our souls entirely to God and we take refuge in His power. "To you I surrender my soul. You provide and satisfy the needs of my soul and body."

Dear faithful–the resurrection of Christ casts the roots of new life also in our Holy Church when we awaken in us the vision of a new Church–a revitalized Church. The Armenian Apostolic Church has reached such a critical moment when the mission of our Holy Church must echo the new circumstances of life. And to revitalize the Church means to lead the very same Church to a spiritual rebirth in the mystery of the Resurrection. To revitalize does not mean to reject the traditions that have reached us through the centuries–but to connect the people to those traditions–and to reunite as one reality the Church and the people who are drawing apart from one another. For when the Church does not reflect our life today she remains merely a concept–a lifeless doctrine. We are living in times when Christianity remains disconnected to man–when one turns to other sources to satisfy one’s spiritual thirst–sources that provide only temporary satisfaction to one’s spiritual needs. Today this is the reality in Armenia and in the Diaspora. The reality is no different for the faithful of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America. In order to satisfy their spiritual thirst children of our Church leave the Mother Church and lead their lives on the paths of uncertainty. The situation dictates that we stay in our home and rejuvenate–renew and enrich the traditions of the Armenian Church that have reached us through the centuries. The Church is not a reality detached from us–and it is necessary to make the active life the very aim and purpose of the Church through visible actions. Anything else would suggest weakness–which we reject.

The glorious Holy Resurrection of Christ today is an invitation to all the children of the Armenian Apostolic Church without exception to return home. The mystery of the glorious Resurrection of Christ becomes real when through Holy Etchmiadzin a new unity is established in our community–a unity whose strength will enable us to see more brightly the eternal truths.

Christ is risen from the dead! Blessed is the resurrection of Christ!

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian–Primate

Easter 2004


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