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“The Country Needs Priests”: Oksana Zabuzhko in Foreword to His Beatitude Sviatoslav’s Book of Messages

June 11, 2024, 00:00 69

“The country needs priests. This thought suddenly came to my mind when I was reading this book—in small portions, several sermons a day,” writes Oksana Zabuzhko in the foreword to the book of His Beatitude Sviatoslav’s daily addresses during the first year of the full-scale war, Ukraine Stands! Ukraine Fights! Ukraine Prays!

“The Country Needs Priests”: Oksana Zabuzhko in Foreword to His Beatitude Sviatoslav’s Book of Messages

The writer noted that the church sermon is not a typical genre for her, but while reading this book, she engaged with it alongside the author.

“The term ‘sacrilegious war,’ often used by the author, is not accidental. It signifies not only the violation of God’s commandments (which are violated in every war, one way or another), but an attack on the very order of things granted by God, on the foundations of existence: a mockery of the Creator, not just the creature,” Ms. Zabuzhko observed.

In her opinion, the fact that the “Great War” unleashed by Russia against Ukraine is “godless” and therefore a war against God is clear to everyone—both believers and agnostics.

“’The country needs priests’ (certainly ‘good’ ones!)—and this book is needed: as a one hundred percent credible replacement for all the volumes of motivational literature that have been dismissed and despised in one blow, like withered leaves. Because this, I emphasize once again, is not just a collection of video messages delivered by His Beatitude every day for a year, from February 25, 2022, to February 24, 2023. It is not just a memorial of the first year of the war (although as such, it is critical and should be on the shelves of our libraries as a document of both secular and church history). For the reader who is craving meaning and is ready to cooperate, it also has its own internal plot, its own ‘story’—the story of a priest who, before our eyes, is helped by faith to ‘wrestle’ and ‘handle’ what seems to be a human’s greatest challenge: to see the presence of God where children are being killed,” the writer noted in the foreword.

“Discussing Christian sins and virtues just after the atrocities of Bucha and Mariupol proves to be unexpectedly appropriate and relevant,” she admitted, “as an answer to the question of how one can (and should!) live on. The often repeated theme of ‘blessed are the peacemakers,’ according to the logic of the church calendar that is incomprehensible to me, gradually grows into a separate cross-cutting ‘sub-series’—a treatise on the meaning of peace.”

Oksana Zabuzhko called His Beatitude Sviatoslav’s book a practical guide that contains answers to the central questions in the context of the sacrilegious war: 1) where to find personal strength, and 2) how to rebuild Ukraine from the ruins of the “elaborate plan.” “Somewhere at this stage, I realized that ‘the country needs priests’: this is exactly the kind of leadership we need for the whole country. Without it, we ‘cannot handle,’ we have faced a very serious test… Therefore, I will conclude by paraphrasing J. P. Sartre: have patience to read this book,” the writer summarized.


On June 6, Kyiv hosted a presentation of a book by the Head of the UGCC, featuring the texts of his daily addresses to people of goodwill around the world during the first year of the full-scale invasion. The book is available for purchase here.

The UGCC Department for Information

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