[ditty_news_ticker id="27897"] Archbishop Elpidophoros: Encyclical on Great and Holy Pascha, 2024 - Orthodox Christian Laity

Archbishop Elpidophoros: Encyclical on Great and Holy Pascha, 2024


Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Prot. No. 104/2024

Archepiscopal Encyclical on Great and Holy Pascha, 2024

May 5, 2024

Unto the Most Reverend and Right Reverend Hierarchs, Pious Priests and Deacons, Monks and Nuns, Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils, Honorable Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Members of Leadership 100, Day and Afternoon Schools, Philoptochos Societies, Youth, Greek Orthodox Organizations, and entirety of the Christ-loving Plenitude of the Sacred Archdiocese of America:

You who fast, and you who fast not, rejoice today!
The table is laden; let all fare sumptuously.
(Catechetical Oration of the Holy Chrysostom) [i]

My beloved sisters and brothers in the Risen Lord,

Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! Christ is Risen!

On Pascha night, the gilded voice of the legendary Archbishop of Constantinople cries out in every church throughout the Orthodox Christian world. In this only sermon ever preached on this “first of Sabbaths” (μία τῶν Σαββάτων) and “feast of feasts” (ἑορτῶν ἑορτή), the Holy Chrysostom invites one and all to partake of “the banquet of faith” (τὸ συμπόσιον τῆς πίστεως).

His grand call to everyone to share in the joy of the Resurrection comes without price, like the call of the Prophet who said, Let everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and those who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price (Isaiah 55:1). [ii] For as we chant on this Holy Night, “let us all forgive all things in the Resurrection,” [iii] from the smallest to the greatest of failings, no price is exacted for the abundance of God’s grace, even grace upon grace (John 1:16).

Indeed, we may not have kept the Fast as we first intended. And some do not keep the Fast at all. However, our invitation to “the banquet of faith” isn’t simply contingent upon the quality or quantity of the foodstuffs from which we partake or abstain. Instead, our participation in the Table as co-banqueters presupposes a high measure of philanthropy and compassion for our fellow neighbor.

Thus, the saintly Golden-Mouth calls all to the Table, the Holy Table, without regard for our fulfillment of the laws around fasting. For on the night of Pascha, the law of love transcends every shortcoming — if only we will extend the same love and forgiveness that God grants to us to others.

My beloved Christians, do not pass by the invitation of Saint John Chrysostom! Accept it without pride in whatever you think you have attained, and without shame or regret for how you may have fallen short of your intentions. The Table is laden! Let all fare sumptuously of God’s eternal mercy and love!

Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! Christ is Risen!

Archbishop of America

Note: To be read in every parish of the Archdiocese during Agape Vespers on Pascha Sunday, May 5, 2024.

[i]Greek: Νηστεύσαντες καὶ μὴ νηστεύσαντες, ευφράνθητε σήμερον. Ἡ τράπεζα γέμει, τρυφήσατε πάντες. (ὁ Κατηχητικός Λόγος  τοῦ Ἁγίου Χρυσοστόμου)

[ii]Greek: οἱ διψῶντες πορεύεσθε ἐφ᾽ ὕδωρ καὶ ὅσοι μὴ ἔχετε ἀργύριον βαδίσαντες ἀγοράσατε καὶ πίετε ἄνευ ἀργυρίου καὶ τιμῆς οἴνου καὶ στέαρ.

[iii]Greek: Συγχωρήσωμεν πάντα τῇ Ἀναστάσει.



  1. Reading this called St. Basil’s exhortation to mind.

    “The strong don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. We were made sick through sin; let’s be healed through repentance. But repentance without fasting is ineffective. “For the earth is cursed, thorns and briars rise up to you.” You see, enduring pain has been prescribed for you, not delicate living.

    Through fasting satisfaction is made to God. But the way of life of fasting in paradise is also an image, as people were sharing the life of angels. Even more than that, through contentment with little, humanity’s likeness to the angels would have been established. But also because whatever kinds of diet human inventiveness later discovered, those in paradise had not yet come to understand. There wasn’t the drinking of wine yet, nor the eating of meat, nor anything clouding the human mind.

    Since we did not fast, we fell from paradise. Well, now let’s fast, so that we may go back again. Remember Lazarus, how through fasting he entered into paradise? Don’t imitate Eve’s disobedience; don’t again receive counsel from the serpent. That’s how we were made subject to fleshly food. Don’t make weakness of the body and illness a pretext. You aren’t pretending to me, but you are talking to the One who knows.”

    St. Basil the Great, Sermon 1, On Fasting.

  2. Romans 14:17-20, the kingdom of God is not in food and drink but of a life lived in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit . Jesus saying, Matthew 15:11, what goes into a man does not defile him but that which comes out.

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