Orthodox Christians Celebrate Easter

Over 200 million Orthodox Christians from around the world celebrated Easter with great reverence for tradition, goodwill and hope in the risen Lord, on Sunday, May 1, 2005. Traditional Orthodox Easter Resurrection Services began on Saturday night, extending past midnight.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, gave an Easter message proclaiming that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead. However, he warned that humanity had forgotten the Lord’s message, which has lead to violence.

"Terrorists kill in order to force nations and governments to accept their demands ... Nations clash for reasons of racial dominance and thousands of people are killed ... Fanatics murder the ones that do not share in their fanaticism. Believers of one faith sometimes kill others who represent a different faith," Bartholomew said, according to the Associated Press.

From Russia, the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Alexy II called for all Orthodox Christians to show charity to the needy and veterans. He also offered words of help and compassion for “people in advanced age, victims of war and calamity, the poor, the diseased, the lonely, the orphaned and the homeless.”

"Cast off all enmity, all sinful ways and feebleness of the spirit. May every day, every hour of our life, follow the testament of Christ: 'Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,'" he said, according to Novosti news service.

The date for Easter in the Orthodox churches is different from that of Western churches. It involves a complex formula that includes the Julian calendar, which is no longer in use in the West. This year, Easter fell on May 1.

The Orthodox Christians are divided into various churches, which mostly fall along national, ethnic and cultural lines. Most can be found in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and even relatively small, but growing congregations in America.