Dear Brother Alois!
Dear brothers and sisters!
With all my heart, I welcome each one of you who has come on this pilgrimage to the Russian Orthodox Church during these blessed days of Holy Week and Easter.
Christians from all over the world this year celebrate the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord in one and the same time. The prayer of the Orthodox services in the churches of Moscow will help you experience in its depths Eastern theology and the poetry of its liturgy, which contemplate the Mystery of Salvation of humanity by our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Divine Liturgy of Holy Thursday, the Church remembers the institution of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the washing of the disciples’ feet by the Lord as a sign that “The Son of Man has come to serve and give his life for the salvation of many” (Mt 20:28). Participating in the Holy Friday services and listening to the reading of the twelve Gospels of the Passion, you will become witnesses to the unjust condemnation to death of Our Lord, His Crucifixion and His burial. Holy Saturday will prepare you celebrate the Feast of feasts – the Resurrection from the dead of the Saviour of the world, when the blessed words of the joyous proclamation ring out during the Paschal Night; “Christ is risen!”
I hope that your pilgrimage will help you learn more about the Russian Orthodox Church, her history, spiritual heritage and life today. Having suffered persecution and the cross of martyrdom during the years of communism, the Russian Church, by the Grace of God, recovering today her ministry of salvation, can carry the proclamation of the Risen Christ into every sphere of the life of society. I invite also you, young people from different countries of Europe, to carry the light of this transfigured life, with which you will be in communion during these holy days in Moscow, to your homes, cities and countries. As long as the transfiguration of the visible world has not yet reached its accomplishment, an the darkness of centuries still obscure the face of God’s Creation, you, young Christians, as “Children of the Light” (Lk 16:8), are called to bear witness to the light of the Risen Christ, incarnating the ideals of the Gospel in your lives and actively committing yourselves in society.
I wish for you every spiritual benefit during these days of your pilgrimage, the fullness of the Paschal joy and invoke God’s blessing upon you all.
President of the Department of External Church Relations
of the Moscow Patriarchate,
Metropolitian of Volokalamsk