UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
COUNCIL OF BISHOPS
Metropolia Center – South Bound Brook-Somerset, NJ
“Oh Lord, Have Mercy Upon Mankind…”
Dearly beloved Clergy, Laity and Monastics of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church,
Once again we find ourselves confronted with the horror of what mankind is capable of – the almost inhuman deeds of man against mankind. It comes just before the time that we will commemorate the Holy Innocents murdered in Bethlehem at the orders of a malicious ruler – Herod – who sought to protect his obscene rule from the threat of the King of kings – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Promised One, Who, it was determined, was to be born in the town. Having been “mocked” as he perceived it, by the three kings who failed to return to tell him where the Child was, he ordered that all the male children age two and under in Bethlehem be killed, hoping thus, to prevent the Messiah from rising up to offer the Truth of God’s love for mankind and about the sanctity of life. St. John Chrysostom rhetorically asks of Herod:
“Why are you angered Herod, at bring mocked by the wise men? Did you not know that the birth was divine? Did you not summon the chief priests? Did you not gather together the scribes? Did not they bring the prophet also with them into your court of judgment, proclaiming these things from times old? Did you not see how the old things agreed with the new? Did you not hear that a star also ministered to these men? Did you not reverence the zeal of the barbarians? Did you not marvel at their boldness? Were you not horror-struck at the truth of the prophet? Did you not from the former things perceive the very last also? How did you not reason from all these things that this event was not of the craft of the kings, but of a Divine Power, duly dispensing all things? And even if you were deceived by the three kings, what is that to the young children, who have done no wrong?”
When we began to hear the horrific news coming from another small town, Newtown, Connecticut, and the murder of innocents and adults, our fear was that it would be a tragedy beyond belief because some sick mind wanted to make a statement during these Holy Days. Our worst fears have been confirmed. Nearly thirty students and adults have been slaughtered – “having done no wrong” – and our hearts are heavy with pain and we weep as did Rachel of old. We ask the perpetrator of today’s slaughter: “Even if you hated your family, what is to these young children and their teachers, who have done you no wrong?”
We, along with all our clergy and faithful of the Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, express our profound sympathy to the parents and family members of those lost. We embrace you with in the Love of God and assure you of our continued prayers that the Almighty encompass you in His Comfort and Mercy.
We appeal to the mass media and beg that the individual or individuals not be “iconized” over the days, weeks and months ahead. An icon is normally a holy depiction of a saintly or heavenly being worthy of emulation in their devotion to and faith in God and for their love of fellow man. But evil can also be “iconized” – placed before society for horrific accomplishments, which defy all the laws of God and of man – very often denying the sanctity of life – gifted to mankind by our Creator and meant for only goodness. We of the Ukrainian nation are all too familiar with this kind of evil – always remembering the ten million of our brothers and sisters – men, women and children – who perished because of the sick and evil mind of the Herod of new times – Stalin – who also sought to preserve his heinous rule.
We appeal to the mass media and beg that the individual or individuals responsible for today’s horrific attack be simply identified and then consigned to anonymity. Why? For the sake of the memory of those he slaughtered. Why? For the sake of the families of those lost. Why? For the sake of the fellow students and teachers of those who perished. Why? For the sake of the family of the one who executed today’s horror. Why? So that other individuals, perhaps evil, perhaps sick in mind, body or soul, might not be “inspired” to “go out” in the same way – with their names and pictures published in many ways for months, years, decades or even centuries after they are gone, while their victims are forgotten by the world within weeks.
“Lord, have mercy on us…strengthen the families of all affected by the loss of deeply loved children, teachers, parents and friends, however remotely, as well as each of us whose lives are once more scarred by man’s inhumanity to man. Receive the souls of your children who have perished into Your loving embrace and give them rest in a place where there is no more such horror, pain and suffering in the Light of Your Countenance. May their souls rest in eternal happiness and their memory be eternal from generation to generation in Your Heavenly Kingdom.”
We direct all our clergy and parishes to pray for the repose of the souls of those lost this day in a Memorial Service – Panakhyda following Divine Liturgy on Sunday, 16 December or on 23 December, and also to pray for their surviving family members, fellow students and teachers during the Litany of Fervent Supplication of the Divine Liturgy on these same days.
In our Lord’s all-encompassing Love,
By the Grace of God, Metropolitan
By the Grace of God, Bishop
Given this 14th day of December in the year of our Lord 2012