Ukrainian Christian Hierarchs Release Christmas Addresses
Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of the UOC-MP called Christmas “the beginning of a new communication between God and human beings… Every person should create a spiritual world in his heart and soul,” he said. “But in our secularized world the Old Testament law ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ remains valid.” According to Metropolitan Volodymyr, the Christian calling is to break the fetters of sin. “Celebrating Christmas, we should be filled with the peace of Jesus Christ. If love governs our hearts, the peace of Jesus Christ will govern our families, society and the whole world. We should explain this to our children and youth,” reads the statement of the UOC-MP metropolitan. “Today, we are looking into the future with hope and praying to God that He helps us to solve problems the church is currently confronted with. We are looking forward to a new law on Freedom of Conscience that would account for believers’ interests, the implementation of the presidential decree on the restitution of property which was illegally confiscated from the church, and finally, the introduction of religious instruction in secondary schools and the establishment of pastoral activities in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The strengthening of the moral and spiritual climate in our society depends on the timely solution of these problems,” reads the statement of Metropolitan Volodymyr. Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko) of the UOC-KP stated that Christmas is not only a folklore tradition, connected with carols or merely a historical event. According to him, it is an event of tremendous importance. In his Christmas address, Patriarch Filaret stressed the significance of the spiritual birth of a person in the holy sacrament of baptism, and for baptism one needs faith. “The lack of faith in God leads people to stop trusting each other, both in their families and in society. Hence there are various divisions and confrontations. … As a result of mistrust and egoism, numerous instances of social and economic evil begin to manifest themselves, from which the Ukrainian people and state suffer. Peace and accord haven’t been achieved even between churches. Instead of living in Christian love, quite a few Christians sow the seeds of hatred and feud. Because of this, for ten years now we have failed to establish a single national Orthodox Church in Ukraine. There are many reasons for the instability and various other problems in our country, but the major ones are the lack of spirituality and neglected democracy,” reads the statement of Patriarch Filaret. According to him, Jesus Christ was born to eradicate all evil and sin from the human soul. Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of the UGCC emphasized that everything the Lord does has one single basis and reason: love. “The Christmas season should become an opportunity for us to understand this truth and to make the conclusion that all our thoughts, decisions, actions, beginning from the conception of a new life, the birth and upbringing of a child, and concluding in various events of our adult life, all this should have the very same basis. In all spheres of human activity, education, culture, politics, economics, love, the desire for the good of our neighbor should become the dominant element. People who turn their gaze only on earthly goods and focus on their own comfort laugh at such thoughts. They consider them childish, immature, unrealistic. This is why such petty concerns rule in our world,” reads the statement of Cardinal Husar. In addition, the Greek Catholic cardinal also mentioned another important period that begins with this holy feast: the Year of the Family, announced by our Church and the international organization UNESCO. “The theme of family life has been relevant from the beginning of the existence of the human race, and in our time it needs particular attention. The Intereparchial Commission on Family Issues has prepared a great program, a part of which will be conducted this year. Other points of the plan will be continued in future years. The goal of this program is to deepen our awareness of the holiness and majesty of family life, to support everything that is good and healthy, and to help overcome whatever harms normal family relations. It is important that these activities, in particular the appropriate preparation for married life, care for young families, and the teaching about the Christian family, become part of the life of our Church and our people for many years to come,” reads the statement of Cardinal Husar. Archbishop Ihor Isichenko of Kharkiv and Poltava of the UAOC pointed out that only when people discover the presence of Jesus in their lives, full of misery and sorrow, can they understand the three wise men who noticed the light from the Bethlehem star amidst the gloom of night. “This year, Christmas festivities in Ukraine are marred by a deep social crisis. Forlorn hopes, heinous conflicts and disturbing anticipations discourage and depress the Ukrainian people. Millions of Ukrainians abandon their native land, because they can see no bright prospects for their future at home. General apathy governs among those who stay,” reads the statement of Archbishop Ihor. “So let us prepare our souls for the advent of Jesus Christ! Having endured the disgrace of servile dependence on human power, let us pray for the gift of freedom… Having experienced the grave consequences of a weak spirit and apathy, let us prepare ourselves to serve Jesus Christ all around the world through the implementation of the evangelical ideal in our daily lives. Let us protect the purity of Christ’s church from the dirtiness of human drawbacks, as well as from the takeover by cynical criminals… Let us prepare to follow our savior bravely to the promised kingdom of God, where evangelical love will govern,” reads the statement of Archbishop Isichenko.
Sources: www.orthodox.org.ua, www.uaorthodox.org, www.ugcc.org.ua, press service of the UAOC