Video-message of His Beatitude Sviatoslav. January 27st [338th day of the war]

January 27, 2023, 11:50 117

Christ is born!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Today is Friday 27 January 2023 and in Ukraine it is already the 338th day of the great full-scale war that the Russian occupier brought to our long-suffering land.

Again, as of yesterday, heavy fighting was going on all along the front line last night. The most intense combat operations, with increasing intensity, are being conducted in particular in our Donetsk and Luhansk regions. During the last day, from what we know this morning, the enemy attacked eleven cities and villages of our Motherland, trying to conduct various kinds of offensive combat operations.

But today, Ukraine is recovering from yesterday’s massive missile strike. Also, according to today’s reports, the enemy launched about 70 rockets throughout the territory of Ukraine. Eleven Ukrainians were killed and more than a dozen were wounded. Our cities and villages suffer from lack of light, lack of heat, because the enemy is attacking peaceful cities and villages, destroying the infrastructure of our cities and killing peaceful residents.

We also hear very disturbing news that reaches us from the occupied territories. There, the enemy strengthens filtering measures, undertakes more and more aggressive and violent actions against the defenceless civilian population. But what most confuses and infuriates all of us is that the enemy arranges the burning of Ukrainian literature: books, textbooks and everything that is written in the Ukrainian language. These burning piles of books are so reminiscent of those book burnings in Hitler’s Germany. The enemy is trying to destroy everything related to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, denying the right to the existence of Ukraine as a historical phenomenon.

But despite these cruel circumstances, despite the fact that every day we are forced to face death, the pain in the body of our people grows, the pain of losses, the pain of destroyed cities and villages, we still want the whole world to hear that Ukraine is alive. That Ukraine is standing, Ukraine is fighting, Ukraine is praying.

We thank the Lord God and the Armed Forces of Ukraine for the fact that we have survived. We have survived this time too, during these missile attacks, so that we can serve the Lord God and our native people.

Today, liturgically, we complete the cycle of post-feast of the celebration of Theophany. And while preparing for this feast, also celebrating it, we reflected with you on the Sacrament of our Baptism with you and what it means for us today to be baptized. We said that the Sacrament of Baptism is the foundation, the basis of the Christian movement for the restoration of today’s lost unity between different Christian churches and denominations.

We talked about baptism with water and we talked about baptism by blood. But there is one more very important element, rather a consequence of the Sacrament of Baptism. If you want to know if you are a true Christian, ask yourself: Which parish do I belong to? Which Christian community do I belong to? Because to be a Christian means to be a member of a church community. Baptism is not some private event, separated from the rest of God’s people, the rest of God’s people. On the contrary, the Sacrament of Baptism makes us members of the Church, the Body of Christ. And we should all feel like members of a wider community, because truly being a Christian means being a member of the community of Christ’s disciples, a member of God’s great family, sons and daughters of God, who in the Sacrament of Baptism received the gift of God’s adoption.

And as in all communities, in all our families, when we come to this family, we bring to it what we are. We bring there our gifts, our virtues, and our holiness, as well as our wounds, our sins, our defects, and our infirmities. Therefore, St Augustine said that the Church is both righteous and sinful at the same time. The Church of Christ is similar to a hospital, to a military field hospital, as Pope Francis would say today, where you and I have the opportunity to heal and recover from our sins, from our wounds, and grow in the fullness of the health of a Christian, moral, and ascetic life, to live the Mystery of Baptism in its fullness.

To what extent we are active members, living members of that Body of Christ, living members of this community, also depends on our understanding and feeling, our attitude towards Christians from other communities, Christians from those communities with which we may not have complete and visible unity today. In the same way, bringing our infirmities, we can sometimes be the cause of certain diseases or certain misunderstandings in the midst of our parish, our community.

In the same way, we must realize that human sin and human weakness caused division among Christians. And trying to build this spirit of community, trying to create space for the action of the Holy Spirit, which is the spirit of unity, the spirit of communion, we must pray, care, and work for unity among Christians. Unfortunately, in the historical period of different peoples and different churches, it happened that some Christians from some communities persecuted other Christians.

Today, it is a great scandal for the entire Christian world that in Ukraine some Orthodox, the Russian invaders, are killing other Orthodox, the Orthodox sons and daughters of Ukraine. This kind of disregard for the gift of unity, the gift of community unity, which flows from the Mystery of Baptism, is a great trouble, a great wound, which we will probably have to heal for centuries. Today’s divisions between Christians are the result of similar wars, hatred, and confrontations between different churches that happened in the past. Therefore, you and I must heal the wounds of the division of the Church of Christ. They are wounds that today can be described as a historical wound, a national wound, even a theological wound, a spiritual wound, sometimes even a wound that we imprinted in the consciousness and in the memory of this or that church, this or that nation.

Today we ask the Holy Spirit, the spirit of adoption, we ask our Christ the Saviour, the only physician of our souls and bodies, to help us heal the wounds of the past, the wounds of our memory, so that today we might live in relationship with other Christian communities without offending each other or inflicted further wounds, cultivating a spirit of hatred, a spirit of rivalry, or a spirit of opposition, because this spirit is not the spirit of God, but the spirit of one who divides, of the one who is the enemy of the human race.

O God, healer of our souls and bodies, heal our wounds, which today the war causes within our long-suffering people. O Lord, heal those wounds that today the one Church that You created, being divided into different denominations, carries in her memory, in her body. O Lord, bless Ukraine, give us the strength to stop the war, give us the strength to be victorious in this confrontation with the unjust attacker and aggressor. O Lord, bless and protect the sons and daughters of Ukraine who are today fighting for the right to life and existence for our people, our state, and our Church. O God, bless Ukraine with Your just, heavenly peace.

May the blessing of the Lord be upon you through His grace and love of mankind, always, now and ever, and for ages of ages. Amen.

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

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