"Spiritual ministry amidst sorrow and grief": The head of the UGCC on spiritual experience in times of war

03 March, 17:50
"Spiritual ministry amidst sorrow and grief": The head of the UGCC on spiritual experience in times of war - фото 1
His Beatitude Sviatoslav spoke to the Catholic media outlet 'Aleteia' about his spiritual experience during the war, how two years of full-scale invasion affected him, his ministry, and the lives of Ukrainians in general.

The Head of the UGCC reported that since the beginning of the war, his activity has increased tenfold, according to the Information Department of the UGCC.

"I always try to sacrifice myself for my people. Being with them, especially in those dangerous situations, such as in the first months of the war in Kyiv when we were practically surrounded, I tried to inspire my people. But my question has always been, 'Lord, where are You in these circumstances?' I tried to find a sign of God's presence among us and draw inspiration from finding Him. And then, as a bishop, as a believer, to show others the way to God's presence among us. That's what my life looks like today," shares His Beatitude Sviatoslav.

The Head of the UGCC reported that over the past 2 years, the number of his travels and pastoral visits has significantly increased.

"Even if you can't do much for these people, even if you have empty hands, it's important to be with them, to be present. And this encounter reveals what we carry in our hearts," noted the Primate. "When there is war, all masks fall off. Many people reveal their true faces, true personalities, and hidden intentions of their hearts. And yes, I witness that it happens."

His Beatitude Sviatoslav mentioned that being a bishop in times of war means, first of all, being a messenger of God's Word, bringing God's grace, and performing the Holy Sacraments: "I witness the extraordinary power of God's Word, which heals, creates new situations, enlightens new perspectives, helps people find God's presence in their lives, increases their resilience, and inspires them."

In Ukraine today, there is a certain turning point, a search for the meaning of our suffering, which we can discover by listening to God's Word. Many people seek the Church's Sacraments amid all the grief and horror experienced. According to the Patriarch, today's pastoral care can also be called 'pastoral care amidst sorrow and grief' or 'pastoral care of mourning.'

"Very often you can't say anything. You can only be present, cry with these people, and share their pain. This pain affects you. Because by sharing, you take their pain into your heart. And you need to be careful, and know what to do with this excessive pain in your heart," noted His Beatitude Sviatoslav.

In such cases, the Head of the UGCC discovers for himself the most important thing in the midst of pastoral accompaniment of sorrow - the importance of prayer, as well as hope and love: "Prayer is not a simple ritual or ceremony. Prayer is a power that passes through your heart. Prayer is communication with God. Prayer is what transforms you and the reality around you. And we witness how people pray when bombs fall on their heads."

So only those who pray have hope. His Beatitude Sviatoslav assured that hope can grow and be realized in the third important Christian virtue - love. Hope always leads to love. And love is the greatest power that can transform and heal our wounds."