During the Divine Liturgy celebrated Sunday at the Resurrection Cathedral in Tirana, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow said that ‘the healing of the paralytic was meant to remind us that Christ’s Resurrection is a medicine, a means to heal our mortal world, paralyzed by sin and estrangement from God.’
On the fourth Sunday after Pascha, His Beatitude Patriarch Kirill presided over the Divine Liturgy at the Resurrection Cathedral in the capital of Albania having as concelebrant the Primate of the Albanian Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios.
Present in Albania for the first time since his election as Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Patr. Kirill offered his reflections on the healing of the paralyzed man linking this miracle to the miracle of the Resurrection.
‘Resurrection is the utter supernatural change of human nature that one can imagine.’
The Patriarch of Moscow recalled that Apostle Paul was mocked by the Athenian philosophers when he preached about the resurrection of the dead: ‘We want to hear you again on this subject’ (Acts 17:32).
‘For a pagan intellectual of those times it was incomprehensible that a man – an insignificant grain of sand in a huge cosmos – is able to surpass a fundamental law of nature like death.’
The revival of the Albanian Church
In his sermon, the Patriarch of Russia drew a parallel between the raising of Tabitha by St Peter as related by the Book of Acts and the history of the Albanian Orthodox Church.
‘Over the ages, it (the Church of Albania) served its people in the most difficult conditions; it was almost completely destroyed in the terrible years of the atheist persecution, but rose again to carry its ministry for the people with new powers by the help of God,’ the Patriarch of Moscow said at the 29 April Liturgy in Tirana.
He noted that the fate of the Albanian Church is associated with the patronal feast of the Resurrection Cathedral and the name of Archbishop Anastasios, which comes from the Greek word anastasis, meaning resurrection.
Resurrection is triumph over evil
‘For us, the resurrection is a triumph over the evil in the world, an unconditional victory over it. The faith in the crucified and risen Christ opens the way to the most effective opposition to evil, but also to the peaceful and compassionate confrontation with people.’
‘The force and courage of Christians do not stand in aggression or the desire for revenge, but in a gentle and unequal profession of truth in all conditions, in a desire to always serve this truth.’
Christian martyrdom is the victory of life
The patriarch spoke about Christian martyrdom that ‘is not only a heroic death in the struggle for one’s beliefs: it is first an act of compassion for the lost.’
‘We say that martyrs, by their death, bear witness to Christ.’
‘A martyr’s way is an effort to correct, even with the cost of their own life, human untruth, to heal the spiritual blindness of their fellows through the light of the Divine Truth.’
Patriarch Kirill praised the martyrs by the help of whom ‘our Churches survived during the terrible atheistic persecution of the 20th century: with the gentleness and the truth of their witness, they have overcome and trampled down upon death and the suffering of the fallen world.’
Christian martyrdom is not death, but rather the opposite, the victory of full life, the Patriarch said.
Love and compassion are the weapons of the Church
His Beatitude Patriarch Kirill pointed out that ‘the Church is not able to prevent all the pain and misfortunes that the evil human will may bring into the world.’
‘It can oppose evil and death with its unique and unmistakeable weapon of life – the love and compassion for the entire human race.’
Resurrection Cathedral in Tirana
The irenical visit culminated with the Divine Liturgy celebrated at the Resurrection Cathedral in Tirana, whose construction was completed in 2012 and which represents a model of contemporary Christian architecture.
The cathedral was built on a land granted by the Albanian government as a compensation for the metropolitan cathedral demolished in 1967 by Enver Hoxha’s communist regime.
Over the past 25 years, Albanian Orthodox Christians have restored 160 churches and have built the same number of new places of worship.
The Albanian Orthodox Church revived over the past 25 years after an almost total destruction, making a notable contribution to the country’s restructuring
Photography courtesy of Oleg Varov / Moscow Patriarchate