Archpastoral Letter: Great Lent 2011!
Archpastoral Letter: Great Lent 2011!


Beloved in the Lord, Reverend Clergy and Monastics, dear Brothers and Sisters in Ukraine and beyond her borders!

By God’s will, we draw near, once again, to the Great Feast of all Feasts – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, our God and our Savior. In order to greet the feast in a worthy fashion, the Holy Church leads us into the Great Fast, which is unique in its liturgical services, celebrated only during this time of the ecclesiastical year, with one goal: bringing us to sincere repentance, changing our life’s direction – drawing us nearer to God rather than away from Him, because we have distanced ourselves from Him by our weakness and sinfulness.

Our hearts have hardened and we fail to acknowledge that sinfulness.  Rather than compare ourselves with the standards Christ has set for His followers, we compare ourselves to other people, concluding that our life is “not so bad” and that there is no reason for worry.  Externally, everything appears to be in order about us, because internally we have silenced the voice of God.

The Great Fast is the time to contemplate how we are living our lives – the reasons we act the way we do.  The Holy Church reminds us that the Fast is not simply a time to abstain from food, but, a time of forgiveness, prayer, acts of charity and searching for the way of perfecting ourselves spiritually, a time to search for new reasons for our lives, our deeds and our words.

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, prior to His public ministry, prepared through fasting and prayer in the desert, where He was tempted by Satan himself – an example for us to follow.  To live the Christian lifestyle, means precisely to imitate Christ, Who says to us, “Where I am, there shall my servant be.” We must be with Christ – during His Passions, during His walk with the Cross, during His Crucifixion and finally at His Resurrection. The Holy Fathers teach that fasting and prayer are the two “wings” upon which we are lifted up to God.

The time of the Great Fast is a time to offer-up our hearts to God, thanking Him for His loving kindness and begging His forgiveness of our sins, regardless of the depth to which we descend in our sinfulness and the futility of our lives. We must never forget that God will not turn away from us.  He is the loving Father who rushes forth to greet the return of prodigal sons and daughters, to embrace them once again as His own beloved children. He is abundantly present to us in the Holy Mysteries of Penance and the Eucharist, forgiving our sins and abiding within us, that we may worthily call Him “Father”. Let us not fear sorrow and contrition for our sins, for it leads to repentance, through which we discover that our God truly is LOVE. Do let us fear, however, our continued sinfulness and our willingness to succumb to complacency – “every human being sins” - remaining unrepentant, for this is from Satan himself.

We must have faith that beyond the Golgothas of our daily lives –resurrection awaits – for our Lord promises us that we will share in His Resurrection!  Our forefathers, throughout the history of our beloved Ukraine, comprehended this and rather than deny the Resurrection power they gave their very lives as proof of its Truth, under circumstances more difficult than any of us alive today have ever experienced. May we follow their example during this Great Fast and beyond.  May this be a time for us to strive for spiritual perfection.  May this be a time for us to recognize, as did our ancestors, God’s abundant Grace and Bounty in our lives and the illumination of our souls by the radiant Light that shines forth from the empty tomb following His Holy Resurrection!

The ultimate responsibility for our salvation lies within each of us as individuals, dearly beloved.  Our prayer during this holy fasting season will be that we all come to the realization of this truth, that we finally abandon the hope that “someone else” will do what is necessary for that salvation and that we will fully embrace that responsibility!  Christ did what was necessary!  Ours is to respond to His Love.

With an abiding love for each of you, we remain the intercessors for your souls,

Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the Diaspora
Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
Archbishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Archbishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the Diaspora
Archbishop of the South American Eparchy of the UOC
Bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
Bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
Bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA

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