St. John the Baptist Parish, A Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church, Canberra, Australia


Dear brothers and sisters

This year I greet you all with the radiant feast of Our Lord’s resurrection from the confines of home. For most of us, a virus has caused our homes to become something like detention camps which we leave only for essential supplies, exercise and the necessities of work. While our present detention is for good reason, this does not lessen the bitter disappointment we all feel at not being able to celebrate Easter as we would wish. However, we are of course not the first Christians to have experienced such deprivation.

Persecution by Roman emperors in the distant past, wars in all ages of the past and the actions of atheistic regimes in the more recent past are all examples of moments when the faithful have had to experience the joy of Easter inwardly or secretly. And it is in the past experience of Christians that we can find that which can help us immeasurably come to terms with our own current reality. Below are some extracts of a letter written from a Soviet concentration camp which I believe do exactly that.

On Easter Day all of us who were imprisoned for religious convictions were united in the one joy of Christ. We were all taken into one feeling, into one spiritual triumph, glorifying the one eternal God. There was no solemn Paschal service with ringing of church bells, no possibility in our camp to gather for worship, to dress up for the festival, to prepare Easter dishes. On the contrary, there was even more work and more interference than usual.

Yet Easter was there: great, holy, spiritual, unforgettable. It was blessed by the presence of our risen God among us – blessed by the silent Siberian stars and by our sorrows. How our hearts beat joyfully in communion with the great Resurrection! Death is conquered, fear no more, an eternal Easter is given to us! Full of this marvellous Easter, we send you from our prison camp the victorious and joyful tidings: Christ is risen!

Yes, in regard to our celebration of Easter this year everything has changed, and yet at the same time nothing has changed. The great truth and joy of this feast remains for all time - because Christ is risen and the demons are fallen, Christ is risen and the Angels rejoice, Christ is risen and life reigns, Christ is risen and not one dead remains in the grave!

So let us all this year as we do every other year greet each other with the exclamation, Christ is Risen! and joyfully await the response we know we will receive, Truly He is Risen!

Father Alexander