Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops
Beyond the Borders of Ukraine
Great Lent 2008
“Turn not your face away from me, for I am afflicted.
Tend to my soul and speedily heal it” (Ps 26:9).”
Thus, the Great Prokimen of the Forgiveness Sunday Vesper Service is chanted as the Royal Doors are closed. Adam is expelled from Eden, and we, the children of God, the followers of Christ Who is the Light of the world, begin our pilgrimage of Great Lent, the Great Fast.
Our Mother Church realizes that her children too often get bogged down with the temporal, with the concern of things that “rust corrupts, moths eat, and thieves break in and steal (Mt 6:19).” Time and again, we incorporate the totality of our lives to mundane earthly concerns, while the spiritual creation of God…called upon to be an icon of or to reflect God…created to be in constant communion with God – man – we place in the background. Yes, we have responsibilities to our families. Yes, we are so involved with our work, our schools and our social activities. We do not deny the necessity of such concerns. However, all of these responsibilities are placed in the foreground, whereas man, the spiritual being, who is called upon to be the “light of the world” and to be a witness and even a martyr for Christ is, oh, somewhere “out there” beyond our daily concern.
Somewhere out there! Our Mother Church realized this and annually sets aside for her children the Great Lent as a time for renewal, a time for resuscitation, a time for resurrecting the beautiful and spotless Chrismated souls who are the “light-bearers of Christ”. The wonderful season of repentance! Repentance demands that each of us must declare – “Sleep not, but arise my soul” – taking the examples of Zacchaeus, the Prodigal Son and all that the Holy Scriptures offer us, those who place in the forefront of their lives the desire to see the Face of God, and release themselves from everything that would shackle them to the here and now.
We “raise our souls” by praying unceasingly, by creating a vacuum within ourselves through abstinence from that which would destroy our being and filling that vacuum with the gifts of charity: food to feed the hungry, water to quench the thirst, clothing for the naked, reaching out to the other that is shackled in any kind of prison, most especially the prison of loneliness. Did we not all take the baptismal oath to be such “light-bearers for our Lord”? Time and again we are distracted by earthly cares and pleasures.
Let us take “the straight and narrow path”, which is the calling of Great Lent, our true calling, seeking God and being with Him every second of our lives. Great Lent reminds us that we have been created to reflect the Divine Image, the Light of Christ, through loving, caring, embracing all who suffer, living in peace and harmony and stilling the deceitful tongue.
Let us prostrate ourselves in humility before the Cross of our Lord, Master and our Redeemer and glorify His Light that proceeds from the Empty Tomb. We, who have been called by Our Lord Jesus Christ to this ministry as your Archpastors, pray that in this holy season we all shall experience true and genuine Christian repentance. May the celebration of Christ’s Glorious and Victorious Resurrection find each of us prepared and committed to having our ‘light shine before all men’, worthy instruments through which His true Light may illuminate others.
Those who pray for you unceasingly,
Metropolitan, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and in Diaspora
Metropolitan, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
Archbishop, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Archbishop, Ukrainian Orthodox in Diaspora, Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand
Archbishop, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
Bishop, Ukrainian Orthodox Eparchy of South America (UOC of USA)
Bishop, Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora, Eparchy of Western Europe