EASTER PASTORAL LETTER OF THE UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC HIERARCHS IN THE USA

The myrrh-bearing women at the break of dawn

drew near to the tomb of the Lifegiver.

There they found an angel sitting upon the stone,

he greeted them with these words:

Why do you seek the living among the dead?

Why do you mourn the incorrupt amid corruption?

Go: proclaim the glad tidings to His disciples.

 

Paschal Stikherion

Christ is Risen!

Dear Sisters and Brothers!

Great Lent—marked by the inexpressible pain of invasion, war crimes, murder, and lies about our people and our Church on the part of the aggressor—has passed. Now we see the Resurrection. Our Ukrainian people live, unite all people of goodwill, and give new meaning to Europe and the global community. In a sacramental way, we witness a paschal passage from death to life.

Today, we repeat the lofty, joyous Easter troparion: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and to those in the tombs giving life.” The crux of our faith and our victory is found in this concise chant. The entire Gospel is a preface preparing the reader for the central story of Pascha. For “…if Christ did not rise” – thus radically writes the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians — “then what we preach is vain, and vain is our faith” (I Cor. 15:14). Without the Resurrection, what we preach becomes a set of rules and obligations. Participation in church life sinks to the conservation of traditions and rituals, empty and lacking substance.

But the Lord is risen indeed, that we might live with Him forever!

For this reason, in his Easter sermon St. John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, author of the Divine Liturgy, which we pray each Sunday, affirms that all are to enter into the joy of the Resurrection – the rich and poor, the continent and careless, those who fasted and those who did not. The feast is so great that this is not the time to get lost in details but to focus on the main thing — Christ is Risen!

In His love for humanity, the immortal and eternal God entered fully into our lives and took on our trials and sufferings – ultimately death. Yet this is not the end of the story.

Drawing near to the tomb with the myrrh-bearing women, we discover that Christ is alive. He has come alive not like a superhero in a film or a computer game, but as the Creator and the Christ – the source of life, who taking on our death, has risen from the dead and given life to all humanity.

Life reigns, and death is vanquished. Defeating death, Christ has made us victors too. Can you believe it? In Christ we are all conquerors of death!

It is crucial to grasp this truth. Our loved ones, whose passing we mourn, are among those to whom Christ has given new life. Among those who live in Christ are the murdered inhabitants of Bucha, Borodianka, Hostomel, Mariupol, and Kramatorsk. Among the living, over whom death has no power, are the fallen soldiers who gave their lives in testimony to the greatest love. The sufferings of the brutal aggressors’ innocent victims – executed, trampled, suffocated – have ended. Death, and the fear of death, rule over them no more. With the Apostle Paul they mock death: “Where, O death, is thy sting? Where, O Hades, is thy victory?” (I Cor. 15:55). They have seen death, and in Christ, its ultimate defeat.

Do we believe? Do we realize that the Lord has vanquished death, sin, and the devil, and that our sufferings—however great and painful—are temporary, for death no longer has power over us? Are we ready to announce the good news of God’s triumph?

We appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, to look at the event of the Resurrection not only through the prism of our beautiful and profound rituals and traditions, but to focus on the essence of the Easter message for each of us who face death: Christ is risen from the dead, with His humble death on the cross He has overcome death, and with His sacrifice, He has given life to each of us.

Let us proclaim Christ’s Resurrection and our own!

+ Borys Gudziak

Metropolitan Archbishop of Philadelphia

of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the USA

+ Paul Chomnycky

Bishop of the Eparchy of Stamford

+ Benedict Aleksiychuk

Bishop of Saint Nicholas Eparchy of Chicago

+ Bohdan Danylo

Bishop of Saint Josaphat Eparchy of Parma

+ Andriy Rabiy

Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia




EASTER PASTORAL LETTER OF HIS BEATITUDE SVIATOSLAV

Most Reverend Archbishops and Bishops,

Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers,

Venerable Brothers and Sisters in Monastic and Religious Life,

 Dearly Beloved Laity in Christ of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church

Christ is Risen!

 

You have descended into the depths of the earth, O Christ,

And have broken the eternal bonds which held the captive, 

And like Jonah from the whale on the third day,

You arose from the tomb!

Ode 6, Paschal Canon

Beloved in Christ!

This year we approach the Pascha of Christ in the midst of particular challenges, suffering, cruelty, indignities, and ruin. For our people, in Ukraine and abroad, it would seem that the cross of our Lord was abruptly thrust upon our shoulders from the very beginning of Great Lent, and we have already been carrying it not for a day or two, a week or two, but continuously, day and night. For us, Holy Friday has become our daily bread, our everyday reality, and we do not know when the glorious day of victory over evil, hate, and violence will come. However, precisely today our Lord calls on us to have no doubt in the victory of light over darkness, life over death, truth over falsehood, and He assures us of His love and grace. From Him, our Risen Saviour, we draw strength in the midst of our suffering today. He is the source of our hope. Therefore, together with the apostle Paul, we say today: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair… For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:8,11). In that spirit with confidence, we greet one another with the victorious salutation: Christ is risen! Truly, He is risen!

You have descended into the depths of the earth, O Christ…

In His suffering and death on the cross, Christ descends into the depths of our fallen human nature. Accepting the worst cruelty—betrayal, unlawful condemnation, mockery, spitting, strikes in the face, scourging, and killing (see Mk. 10:33-34), the Son of God takes upon Himself all the consequences of human sin. He touches the furthest distance from God, the worst human downfall, the greatest defacement of dignity, for which mankind was created. Possibly, this week in the context of war, when we read or listened to the Passion Gospels, we especially felt and experienced all that our Lord underwent for our salvation.

At the same time we have become aware of how human nature remains fallen, how the devil continues to control human beings, who have no God in their hearts. He who sows hatred and instigates war against one’s neighbour, opposes the Almighty. All war is a clear manifestation of the ruinous, murderous action of the devil, for only the evil one is able to spread fear and carry death in such a manner, is able to inflict such wounds, and destruction, and pain, and loss. And even when the path to recovery and healing of trauma may seem distant, closed, or unpassable for those suffering, we must remember that with the Risen Christ there is nothing that cannot be conquered or healed.

The war of russia against Ukraine is the latest war of a prison of nations that seeks to reestablish itself before our very eyes. The occupier once again brings to us chains, with which entire generations of our ancestors were fettered. The chains that bound the arms of cossacks who built Saint Petersburg. The chains that for centuries bound the intellectual and ecclesial life of Ukraine. The chains of serfs, chains of the Holodomor, chains of millions of deported and exiled Ukrainians, whose bones are strewn across the vast Siberian expanse “to the ends of the earth.” The ideologues of russia’s war against Ukraine state openly that our existence is a mistake of history—one that must be rectified precisely through “eternal bonds” of death and destruction. This is a war against the very right of the Ukrainian people to its own history, language, and culture, to its own independent country, its own existence.

From a spiritual perspective it has become clear how our aggressive neighbour is unable to cast aside his false idols and how in them he continues to pursue his greatness at our cost. With his cruise missiles, bombs, and artillery shells, he seeks to instill fear, to drive us into the depths of the earth and non-existence, to bind us with eternal chains. And precisely in those underground shelters a miracle takes place—one of common prayer, selfless help of neighbour, unbroken spirit, and of demonstrating the power of the presence of God.

And have broken the eternal bonds which held the captive…

Our traditional icon of Christ’s Resurrection is the icon of the Descent into Hades. On it we find depicted the dislodged doors of hell and the broken chains of sin. The Resurrection of Christ is a feast of victory—victory of life over death, of Divine truth over diabolical falsehood, of love over hate. One of our soldiers wrote on his helmet the following prayer: “God, if I am killed on the field of battle, take me into paradise, for I have already been in hell!” In His resurrection Christ emerges not only from the empty tomb, but from the depths of hell and from deadly captivity for humankind. He emerges not alone, but by taking our forebearers Adam and Eve by the hand, he leads all humanity out of the bonds of death. He takes the hand of our soldiers and volunteers, our civilian population, who have seen the hell of russian occupation—he takes the hand of Ukraine and leads it to resurrection, filling it with the paschal joy of the victorious hymn, “Christ is risen!”

Today, when Ukraine is defending itself against an insidious foe, more than ever we are called to spiritual warfare, remembering that evil can only be overcome by good. Saint Paul reminds us that we must be cautious, so that in the midst of the horrors of war we remain human and not fall into the devil’s trap of malice and hate: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery… For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal. 5:1,14). And then he encourages each of us to open up to Divine grace and allow the Holy Spirit to bear His life-giving fruit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).

Pascha is the feast of the victory of love over hatred, of joy over sorrow, of peace over war, of patience over panic, of kindness over anger, of faithfulness over betrayal, of gentleness over unrest, of self-control over voracity. Pascha is the victory of spirit over flesh, of truth over mendacity, of life over death. Christ rose from the tomb in order to raise up and grant victory to those, who have been swallowed up by death, slavery, and degradation, as once was Jonah by the whale.

And like Jonah from the whale on the third day, You arose from the tomb!

What an irony it is that the enemy planned to celebrate his victory in the capital city of Kyiv in three days! He thought that he would quickly swallow up an entire people, but his insidious plans were broken by the heroism of our armed forces. In reality, it is Christ, risen on the third day from the tomb, who grants us who believe in His resurrection, faith in victory over hell and death. St. John Chrysostom, in his paschal sermon, notes that the enemy of the human race “took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.” Similarly, our enemy took what he saw, but fell because of what he failed to see—the power of the spirit, faith, and love of our people! Our victory, the victory of Ukraine, flows from the power of the risen Christ, who leads us out of the depths of the horrors of war and death, who breaks the eternal bonds and victoriously leads us to life. To celebrate the Pascha of Christ in a time of war is to already taste our victory. Let us have no doubt!

The one who brings death is destined for defeat because Ukraine is celebrating Pascha! Again, John Chrysostom, echoing the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles (see 1 Cor. 15:55), proclaims: “O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Voskres Khrystos, and the demons are fallen. Anesti Chrystos, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life flows freely.” The one who sought to enslave us by death is already defeated, for his main weapons of colonization and aggression have been destroyed by Christ Himself through His death on the cross and glorious Resurrection.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ! Today I extend to all of you my fatherly and brotherly embrace, and share with you the joy of Pascha. I embrace all who fight on different fronts—spiritual and physical, especially our unbreakable soldiers, our dedicated pastors, and tireless volunteers. I embrace with paschal joy all who have been forced to leave their home and even their native land, and pray for your speedy return in a time of peace, which will surely arrive. I embrace in prayer all the wounded, so that in your suffering you feel the support, love, and gratitude of an entire nation, but especially—God’s grace and constant love. I greet all who all over the world support and assist Ukraine, in efforts both great and small. As a world community we have shown ourselves to be like a beehive, where each of us senses in spirit what he or she must do in the face of danger. I embrace those who are in occupied territories, in areas of military engagement—those who do not have the possibility to prepare an Easter basket and who sing “Christ is risen!” under the roar of cannons and exploding shells. In the hope of the resurrection, I cry and weep with all who lament their dead, from the ranks of the armed forces, and from the civilian population. May each of us today sense hope in a bright future in peace and harmony, for the Resurrection of Christ is the source of peace. May the rich symbolism of our traditional pysanka remind us that the Risen Lord is the source of heavenly gifts, of joy, goodness, victory, and eternal life.

I embrace with a fatherly love all the clergy, religious, and faithful in Ukraine and throughout the world, and sincerely wish you all a blessed Easter feast, a tasty sharing of our traditional blessed egg, and a Paschal joy that is full of light.

The grace of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

 

Christ is risen! – Truly, He is risen! 

+ SVIATOSLAV

Given in Kyiv

at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ,

on the Feast of the Annunciation of Most Holy Theotokos

April 7 (March 25), 2022 A.D.




Metropolia has collected $1,869,132.19 for the Humanitarian Aid Fund

Humanitarian Aid Fund of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States. Report No. 2 March 27, 2022

$1,869132.19 has been collected

Since Report No.1 the Humanitarian Aid Fund has supported these three initiatives:

$200,000 Caritas Ukraine (equivalent to Catholic Charities in the US)– to support Caritas’ Emergency Response to War in Ukraine Project focused on supporting vulnerable individuals in the areas of information, hygiene supplies, food, temporary shelter, family medicines, water, safe transportation, coping of stress, and delivery of humanitarian cargo to crisis locations.

$200,000 Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) – for the purchase of wound care products for war victims to be used in hospitals, medical pouches for tactical medicine, and medications for the needs of the hospitals in different regions of Ukraine. UCU has arranged the logistics for delivery in Central and Eastern Ukraine.

$119,789.31 Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) – for the purchase of SOF Tactical Tourniquets. These are the top performing medical tourniquets currently available. These tourniquets are part of a tactical medical kit, which will be stocked by UCU’s partner, the Wings of Hope Charitable Foundation. UCU has arranged the logistics for delivery in Central and Eastern Ukraine.

***

100% of the funds donated to the Humanitarian Aid Fund of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in America, created by the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, Eparchy of Stamford, Eparchy of Saint Nicholas in Chicago, and Eparchy of Saint Josaphat in Parma, will go to support humanitarian aid organizations and suffering Church institutions in Ukraine.




Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States Humanitarian Aid Fund. Report No. 1: Metropolia has collected $1,124,621

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13).

Ukrainians have united the world. Their sacrifice for freedom and God-given human dignity, their love for truth and social justice, and their heroic witness of fearless solidarity are inspiring people of good will globally. Millions of Ukrainian citizens are radically incarnating the Gospel virtues as they imitate Christ in the Way of the Cross on route to a victory over death in the Resurrection.

A democracy fighting for its life has demonstrated a new maturity and given new meaning and cohesion to a fragmented Europe. Ukraine’s valor is forging shared purpose in America.

People in the United States and throughout the world are generously contributing to the address the humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine and helping the Church heal the traumas —personal and social, material and physical, spiritual and psychological —caused by a ruthless and lawless invasion and outright war crimes. We encourage you to join this movement of mercy, love, and service by donating to the Humanitarian Aid Fund of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in America.

Goal of the Humanitarian Aid Fund of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in America

100% of the funds donated to the Humanitarian Aid Fund of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in America, created by the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, Eparchy of Stamford, Eparchy of Saint Nicholas in Chicago, and Eparchy of Saint Josaphat in Parma, will go to support humanitarian aid organizations and suffering Church institutions in Ukraine.

The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental organization in the world. It has a long history of aiding war victims, the poor and refugees.  In Ukraine it is one of the largest NGOs meeting the needs of the downtrodden and persecuted.  On both the national level (e.g., Caritas Ukraine) and the local level (e.g., local eparchial and parochial Catholic Charities), Catholic institutions are some of the most reliable and effective institutions in serving people in Ukraine, embracing Catholics and non-Catholics alike — all people in need.  The Church itself is also suffering grievous losses as priests, bishops, employees, families and others are injured, displaced and even killed.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church in America is firmly committed to transparency in the stewardship of these funds and to ensuring that this assistance reaches those truly in need.

A list of the organizations and their carefully screened projects supported by the Humanitarian Aid Fund will be published as the monies are sent to Ukraine.

PLEASE BE GENEROUS!

 +Borys Gudziak

Archbishop of Philadelphia, Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States

Head of the Department of External Church Relations, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM

Eparch of Stamford

+Benedict Aleksiychuk

Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

+ Bohdan J. Danylo

Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma

 +Andriy Rabiy

Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

***

March 17, 2022 Report No. 1

$1,124,621 has been collected

Currently, the Humanitarian Fund is supporting five initiatives:

$200,000                Caritas Ukraine — to be used for aid to refugees on the move and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in western Ukraine as well as humanitarian assistance in central and eastern Ukraine. This grant covers a disabling gap in funding for the transport of humanitarian convoys and supplies that Caritas is sending to Central and Eastern Ukraine as well as for transport of refugees and travel and deliveries of aid to refugees standing at the border. Caritas transferred over 300 tons of supplies in the first three weeks of the invasion. At the current rate of transfer $200,000 will cover an estimated three months of transportation costs. The grant will give assurance and freedom to Caritas to develop a longer-term program of emergency aid.

$93,458.45            Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) — for the purchase of emergency bandages and hemostatic gauze.  Each medicated bandage cost ca. $50. The UCU has arranged for the purchase in Poland, logistical transfer, and distribution of these medical supplies in Central and Eastern Ukraine.

$50,000                   Ukrainian Catholic Church Curia in Kyiv — for support of the critical central ministry of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). The central ministries of the UGGC are assuring the continuity and coordination of the Church’s service and humanitarian efforts throughout the country. 

$30,000                   Kharkiv Exarchate — ensuring ministry to the faithful and distribution of humanitarian aid.  Kharkiv, a city of ca. 1,500,000 inhabitants, is one of the main targets of Russian bombing and artillery shelling. Some 800 residential buildings have been damaged or destroyed. A large part of the population has left the city and become refugees, but the bishops and most clergy remain in Kharkiv and at the parishes of the Kharkiv Exarchate ministering and distributing humanitarian aid.

$30,000                   Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchies in Poland — for assistance for refugees by three eparchies – the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Przemyśl–Warsaw, Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Wrocław-Koszalin, and Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Olsztyn–Gdańsk.  These eparchies are part of the astounding effort of the citizens of Poland in receiving almost 2,000,000 refugees.

$403,458.45 total current expenditures towards needs in Ukraine

The exacting review and approval of other projects is underway.




Patriarch Sviatoslav Video Messages from Kyiv

March 5

March 4

March 3

March 2

March 1.

February 28

February 27.




“A pure heart create in me, O God!” (Ps. 50:10). A Lenten Letter from the Ukrainian Catholic bishops in the US

“A pure heart create in me, O God!” (Ps. 50:10)

At the celebration of every matins service, we recite Psalm 50, the great penitential prayer of King David.  King David was one of the most remarkable men who ever lived.  He was a mighty warrior, a king, a prophet, a poet, a musician, a friend, and also a penitent.  Throughout his life, David gave thanks to God for the many blessings he had received from Him.  And when he sinned greatly, he prayed: “A pure heart create in me, O God!”  He was aware that even his own repentance was a gift from God.

The most beautiful aspect of King David was not his many accomplishments and talents, but his simple and straightforward heart.  The prophet Samuel said about him: “the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart and appointed him ruler of his people.” (1Sam 13:14)

Jesus is often called by the title “Son of David”.  In his simplicity of heart, David was an appropriate ancestor of our Lord, because Jesus says to us: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest.” (Mt. 11:29) In Matthew’s Gospel, we read that when his enemies plotted to kill him, Jesus withdrew peacefully, and the evangelist goes on to say that this was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah regarding the coming Messiah: “He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets.  A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench.” (Is. 42:3)

What a beautiful virtue it is to have a simple and compassionate heart!  The depraved heart is never simple.  It is always grasping, always manipulative, always putting on an act.  The depraved heart is never satisfied, never happy with itself, and habitually angry at the happiness and success of others.

But the simple heart is compassionate and is able to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” and St. Paul writes. (Rm. 12:15) The simple heart is never lonely but finds companionship in everyone.

The time of Great Lent has lost its appeal and its relevance to many in our modern society.  Could it be because Lent is so simple, and the world now is so complicated?  We are bombarded by information from all over the world that comes to us on our smart phones in the palm of our hand.  They are constantly dinging with texts and alerts and updates, informing us of the latest piece of news that can’t be missed, always accompanied by enticing advertisements to buy something to fulfill our desires.

Lent, on the other hand, is so very simple.  Lent means giving things up instead of acquiring more things.  It starts with the simple idea of giving up food.  From there we can simplify other things in our life as well.  We can turn off the twenty-four-hour news channel, switch off the cell phone for part of the day, and stop checking things online.

And with this extra time, what might we do?  For starters we might spend time with the One who is most important, the One who made us and watches over us, the One who desires us so lovingly.

We can read holy scripture and the lives of the saints.  We can pray in church and at home.  We can and must pray for our own conversion.  We can pray for those we love and those in need.  We can pray for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, because our peace-loving ancestral homeland has been forced yet again to defend herself against those who desire to enslave and destroy her.  And we can pray for the conversion of those who harbor evil intentions for Ukraine.

God tells us in holy scripture that we cannot give ourselves a simple heart, only He has the power to do that for us.  So, during this time of Great Lent let us beg God for a simple heart, a heart that does not deceive, a heart that is not greedy, a heart that rejoices in the good of others and weeps at their misfortunes, a heart that is pure and simple.  Together with King David, let us pray: “A pure heart create in me, O God!”

+Borys Gudziak

Archbishop of Philadelphia, Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States

Head of the Department of External Church Relations, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

 +Paul Chomnycky, OSBM (author)

Eparch of Stamford

+Benedict Aleksiychuk

Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

+ Bohdan J. Danylo

Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma

+Andriy Rabiy

Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia




Appeal of His Beatitude Sviatoslav on outbreak of war

Beloved in God people of Ukraine!

Our country is in danger again!

The treacherous enemy, despite his own commitments and assurances, breaking the basic norms of international law, as an unjust aggressor, stepped on Ukrainian soil, bringing with him death and destruction.

Our Ukraine, which the world fairly called “lands of blood”, which has been so many times sprinkled with the blood of martyrs and fighters for the freedom and independence of its people, calls us today to stand up for it – to defend its dignity before God and humanity, its rights for existence and the right to choose one’s future.

It is our natural right and sacred duty to defend our land and our people, our state and all that is dearest to us: family, language and culture, history and the spiritual world! We are a peaceful nation that loves children of all nations with Christian love, regardless of origin or belief, nationality or religious identity.

We do not infringe upon others and do not threaten anyone, but we have no right to give our own to anyone! At this historic moment, the voice of our conscience calls us all as one to stand up for a free, united and independent Ukrainian State!

The history of the last century teaches us that all those who started world wars lost them, and the idolaters of war brought only destruction and decline to their own states and peoples.

We believe that in this historic moment the Lord is with us! He, who holds in his hands the fate of the whole world and of each person in particular, is always on the side of the victims of unjust aggression, the suffering and the enslaved. It is He who proclaims His holy Name in the history of every nation, captures and overthrows the mighty of this world with their pride, the conquerors with the illusion of their omnipotence, the proud and insolent with their self-confidence. It is He who grants victory over evil and death. The victory of Ukraine will be the victory of God’s power over the meanness and arrogance of man! So it was, is and will be!

Our holy Church-Martyr has always been and always will be with its people! This Church, which has already survived death and resurrection, as the Body of the Risen Christ, over which death has no power, the Lord gave to his people in the baptismal waters of the Dnipro River.

Since then, the history of our people and its Church, the history of their liberation struggles, the history of the incarnation of God’s Word and the manifestation of His Spirit of truth in our culture have intertwined forever. And in this dramatic moment, our Church, as a mother and teacher will be with its children, will protect them and serve them in the name of God! In God is our hope and our victory will come from Him!

Today we solemnly proclaim: “Our soul and body offer we for our freedom! With one heart we pray: “Lord, Great and Almighty, protect our beloved Ukraine!”

Holy righteous people, martyrs and confessors of the Ukrainian land, pray and intercede for us before God!

God’s blessing be upon you!

+ Sviatoslav

Given in Kyiv

at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ,

February 24, 2021 A.D.




APPEAL of His Beatitude Sviatoslav to the Sons and Daughters of the Ukrainian People in Ukraine and Abroad, and to all People of Good Will

Kyiv, February 22, 2022                                                                           

Prot. N. 22/048 ENG

APPEAL

of His Beatitude Sviatoslav

to the Sons and Daughters of the Ukrainian People in Ukraine and Abroad,

and to all People of Good Will

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The recognition by the president of the Russian Federation of the “independence and sovereignty” of the self-proclaimed LNR and DNR creates serious challenges and threats for the entire international community and for international law, on the basis of which today people and their nations exist and cooperate. Irreparable damage has been done to the very logic of international relations, which are called to safeguard peace and the just order of societies, the supremacy of law, the accountability of state powers, the defence of the human being, human life and natural rights. Today all of humanity has been placed in danger—that the powerful have a right to impose themselves on whomever they wish, with no regard for the rule of law.

In its decision the government of the Russian Federation unilaterally withdrew from a lengthy peace process, tasked with ensuring the restoration of dignified conditions for life on the territories controlled by Russia in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, for those impacted by Russian military aggression. The war, initiated against our people in 2014, has inflicted deep wounds on many of our fellow citizens: thousands killed, wounded, left in solitude. Yesterday’s step taken by the president of the Russian Federation destroyed foundational principles for a long-term process of restoring peace in Ukraine, created the path for a new wave of military aggression against our state, opened the doors for a full scale military operation against the Ukrainian people.

We consider the defense of our native land, our historical memory and our hope, our God-given right to exist to be the personal responsibility and sacred duty of the citizens of Ukraine. The defence of our Fatherland is our natural right and civic duty. We are strong when we are together. Now has come the time to unite our efforts in order to defend the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Ukrainian state. The duty and responsibility of all of humanity—to actively work to avert war and protect a just peace.

We are convinced that the world cannot develop and find answers for the challenges of today by resorting to might and violence, by showing disdain for shared human values and the truth of the Gospel. I call upon all people of good will to not ignore the suffering of the Ukrainian people, brought on by Russian military aggression. We are a people who love peace. And precisely for that reason we are ready to defend it and fight for it.

Today we call out in prayer to the Almighty Creator, with a special appeal for wisdom for those entrusted with making important decisions for society, in whose hands lies the fate of humanity. We ask the Heavenly Father for assistance in restoring a just peace on Ukrainian land.

We pray especially for those who defend Ukraine, who in these days are for us an example of loving sacrifice and dedicated service to their people. May the merciful Lord protect them from every danger and crown their efforts with the victory of truth and good.

We call for the gracious blessing of a loving God and Creator upon Ukraine and its people!

The blessing of the Lord be upon you. 

† SVIATOSLAV




Pray for Peace in Ukraine. An Appeal of the Ukrainian Catholic Bishops of the United States

Over the last weeks, the world has become fully aware of the fact that democratic Ukraine and its freedom-loving people are increasingly surrounded by hostile military forces prone for invasion. A full escalation of the eight-year Kremlin-led war will bring about devastating bloodshed and untold human suffering. Deaths could be in the tens of thousands and refugees in the millions. The economic and political shockwaves of the social devastation and material destruction in Ukraine will be worldwide. There is ample access to analysis that explains the potential of a disaster with global repercussions.
We appeal to you not as politicians nor strategists. We entreat you as persons of faith in God: “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever” (Ps 125:1). As pastors we appeal to you and to all people of good will to pray for peace and justice in Ukraine.
We ask that beginning tomorrow, Sunday February 13, our priests and parishes, religious communities, families and individual faithful conduct a three-day vigil of prayer for peace and the conversion of the hearts of those who preach violence and escalate war.
Given the immediacy of our appeal, we ask that each pastor and community, each family and each person participate in this vigil in whatever way is possible for them. May our churches be open throughout the day, may the prayer of the Church interchange with personal contemplation. Conduct and participate in services, pray the Jesus Prayer, the Marian Rosary, the Paraclesis, sit with the Scriptures. Fast in order to focus on the hope that only God gives.
May our eyes be upon the Lord, may God’s Word be upon our lips, may our hearts be full of hope. “Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares about you. Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.” (1 Pt 5:7-9).
Ukrainian faithful of all confessions have witnessed miracles. In recent history we saw the collapse of the Iron Curtain, the dissolution of the Soviet prison of nations, the liberation of our Churches, which occurred without war and bloodshed.
We put our trust in God and ask for divine intervention. “Some boast of chariots, and some of horses; but we boast of the name of the Lord our God. They will collapse and fall; but we shall rise and stand upright” (Ps 20:8-9). We pray for the safety and courage of the people of Ukraine. We admire their faith and fortitude. We beseech the Lord to preserve the country and its people from further invasion.
Pray and be full of hope. Share that hope. Know the Lord and God’s love for the world!
+Borys Gudziak
Archbishop of Philadelphia, Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States
Head of the Department of External Church Relations, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM
Eparch of Stamford
+Benedict Aleksiychuk
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago
+ Bohdan J. Danylo
Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma
+Andriy Rabiy
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia



Christmas Pastoral Letter of His Beatitude Sviatoslav

Most Reverend Archbishops and Metropolitans,

God-loving Bishops, Very Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics,

Dearly Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

in Ukraine and throughout the world

 

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, 

good will toward men (Lk 2:14)

 

Christ is born!  Glorify Him!

Beloved in Christ!

Today we share with you a great joy that was first received and shared by nameless shepherds of Bethlehem, who outdoors in an open field watched over their flock in the middle of the night. As described by the evangelist Luke, when an angel of the Lord appeared to them, at first, they were filled with fear. But the angel spoke to them: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11). And then, when the shepherds heard the angelic choirs sing, “Glory to God in the highest,” they said to one another: “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us” (Lk 2: 15). And they went, they found Mary and Joseph with the Child, and, having given them due reverence, went out and told others about Jesus.

The good news of Christmas is a feast of trust—not only of trust shared among us, human beings, but, above all, of God’s trust in humankind. We often speak of our faith in God, but rarely do we make note of God’s good will towards us, His faith and trust in us. The Lord entrusted the first good news about the birth of the Divine Child to simple shepherds, and then He shared the Good News of the Gospel with the myrrh-bearing women, with fishermen and tax-collectors—with simple and largely unknown people.

In Christ’s Nativity, the Heavenly Father entrusts His Only-begotten Son to humanity, and God becomes man! The angelic choir proclaiming “peace on earth to men of good will” speaks to the fact that God sees man as worthy of his trust and favour, preference and good will (which is how we literally translate the Greek term, eudokia). He sees us as good and believes in us. He sees us not only as we are today, with all our weaknesses and sinfulness, our poverty and perplexity. The Son of God sees in us His Image. In His incarnation, He takes on our human nature and teaches us to see Him, the Saviour of the world, in a small child. Seeing us as people of His good will, He sees us as those who we can become by the power of His grace just as loving parents see in their child a talented future writer or artist, a good mother or tender and responsible father, the leader of a people or their mighty protector.

In this Christmas mystery, the figure of the Theotokos personifies the trust that we humans should foster towards our Creator and Saviour, in response to God’s trust in us. The Mother of God, who holds in her arms the tiny Jesus in a cold stable, teaches us that we can and must trust God and our neighbour, since the Lord loved us first and entrusted Himself to us. In receiving the word of the archangel, she gives God space in her own body, gives Him her humanity—her human nature. Then St. Joseph, the guardian of Jesus and His Mother, having learned that Mary is pregnant, at first thinks of quietly releasing her. But, when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said: Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:20), he believed, entrusted himself to God, and did everything as the angel commanded, justifying the Lord’s trust in him.

We live in a world where trust is not merely wounded, but under constant attack. A great crisis of trust is felt in different spheres of social and even church life. Through new communication technologies, the manipulation of truth, which has always existed throughout human history, today is carried with lightning speed all over the globe. We no longer know what to believe and whom to trust. Our understanding is permeated with the conviction that in the world there is no truth and no justice, and that at every step there is only deception, falsehood, and duplicity.

This dramatic situation is illustrated in the icon of the Nativity. The evil spirit, depicted in the form of an elderly man dressed in sheepskin, tempts Joseph, seeking to give rise to doubt in him regarding the Child and His Mother. This should surprise no one, for the devil, as the father of lies (see Jn 8:44) at every step seeks to sow mistrust and doubt regarding God’s good will towards us, and fosters interpersonal conflict at all levels, in personal, family, and community life.

The current pandemic has further increased this crisis of trust. Given that the virus hides inside a person, the other for me becomes a potential source of illness, and even death. This introduces into human relations elements of suspicion, fear, and escape.

Our attitude towards social and government institutions is also marked by mistrust. Various conspiracy allegations regarding the safety of the coronavirus vaccine augment a mistrust of authority, that is already prevalent in our society, and bring out in our fellow citizens even greater confusion and fear for the future. People don’t believe the government and other institutions called to care for the common good and for social health services, as is their responsibility. Possibly, because of the history of the 20th century, post-Soviet societies have a greater tendency, than do other parts of the world, to disbelieve government institutions, and thus easily become susceptible to all sorts of manipulation and propaganda. Similarly, in the politically polarized countries of the Western world, the spreading of fear and mistrust is also utilized as an instrument of political warfare. However, it is important to remember that when we adopt a principle of “I don’t believe anyone,” we always play into someone else’s hands, someone exploits our disappointment for their own purposes. Mistrust destroys human relations at all levels. Mistrust destroys the family, society, a people, and nation!

In response to our present-day temptations regarding mistrust, the Lord Himself comes in order to reveal the truth and embrace us with His trust. On the vigil of the Nativity, we sing: “You have shone forth from a Virgin, O Christ, rational Sun of Righteousness. And a star showed You, Whom nothing can contain, contained in a cave. You led Magi to worship You and along with them we magnify You: Glory to You, O Giver of Life” (Vespers Troparion). To celebrate Christ’s Nativity is to trust the Divine Child who conquers death and, by accepting human life, brings the gift of His Divine Life. Christmas is not some devotional tale but a unique event in history, which bears witness to the Lord’s trust in humankind. God believes in His creation. He believes in us more than we believe in ourselves.

Through faith in God, in His birth among us, let us restore our trust in a humanity that searches for Him! Let us be people of God’s favour and let us learn to place our favour in others—to see in them their good characteristics, gifts and talents, abilities, and elevated spirit. Although today the circumstances of a spreading virus at times require us to cover with protective masks our mouths and nostrils, but in God’s name, let us not close off our hearts to others! Let others see joy, love, and goodness in our eyes! Indeed, in the midst of the challenges and trials of the pandemic, let us be heralds of Divine good will.

My wish is that, following the example of the Holy Family, our families be a place of mutual respect, love, and trust. I especially ask you, beloved parents, to foster a spirit of trust in your children, so that, when they encounter the challenges of this world, they know that they can always count both on you and on our Lord God, who entrusted them into your care. At various stages of your children’s growth, cultivate and build trust and mutual respect in joy, love, and patience. Be for them their first teachers of profound faith, an example of fervent prayer, encourage them to serve their neighbour at an early age. Give the greatest of attention to the time of transition from childhood to youth, take care that your children know how to distinguish between the false and the authentic, between divine truth and diabolical falsehood. May your offspring know that not only you believe in them and are able to see their future in realized talents and divine gifts, developed in their souls, but that our Lord God Himself believes in them and calls on them to do His good works in the world.

And so, let us celebrate Christmas together! Wherever we may be, through mutual trust let us create today our own Bethlehem! Those who celebrate in their family circle—with sincere joy. Those who are compelled to be far from your loved ones—with a sense of spiritual unity. Those who are able to come to church—with a profound experience of the feast’s solemnity and with love for Christ who gives Himself to us as spiritual food as a sign that He believes in us. Those who participate in divine services online—with a blessed longing for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let each of us share our Christmas joy with one another—any way we can! And may the traditional Ukrainian carol resound throughout.

Dear brothers and sisters! This festive day I express to you my trust and faith, that you yourselves intuitively sense how to properly greet the newborn Saviour, and know how to share the joy of this encounter with those at your side. With Christ’s Nativity, I warmly greet you all: from East to West, from North to South—in Ukraine and abroad, on all the continents of the world. In a special way, I unite myself to those who are sad or feel lonely, to all who labour far from home and precisely in this moment experience the absence of their loved ones and miss the warmth of the family home. I express my condolences to those families for whom this year it is painful to sit at Christmas Eve supper, when at the table there is an empty seat, not long ago occupied by a father or mother, husband or wife, brother or sister, son or daughter. With tearful eyes be joyful in the faith that today your loved ones are celebrating in heaven. I share my Christmas joy with our elderly—grandmothers and grandfathers, and also with the needy. I sincerely greet our soldiers on the front line—our pride. My thoughts fly to our prisoners of war and those held captive: in conveying my Christmas greeting I encourage you to not lose spirit, for our Lord God Himself believes in you. I greet our children and youth—our future, and wish that today your smile not leave your face, and that your joy be full.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish all of you the authentic joy of the children of God, a tasty kutia, a cheerful celebration of Christ’s Nativity, and a happy, peaceful, and blessed New Year!

Christ is born!  Glorify Him!

† SVIATOSLAV

Given in Kyiv

at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ,

on the day of the all-praiseworthy Apostle Andrew the First-called

the 13th of December (30th of November) in the 2021st Year of our Lord