On June 8, the Kyiv Palace of Sports will host the National Day of Prayer. The press center of the event recorded a conversation with His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Head of the UGCC. We talked about the personal responsibility of Ukrainians, what will cure us, teach us to be mindful of one another.
– You, as the Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, have a lot of responsibilities. What is a prayer for you? Is it a daily duty of the bishop?
The meaning of our Christianity is life in love. For whoever loves, he lives. Who does not love, he already died. When we pray, we experience and express our love for God and neighbor. The peak of prayer is to express love for Him.
God always surprises me! He surpasses what I ask. Sometimes I say: “Be very careful with what you ask, because you will get everything you ask, but much more than you expect!”
If we do not just say some formulas or formally perform some duty of prayer, but when we pray to the Lord sincerely, truly, then we feel that He touches some part of our “ego”. God touches such a facet of my being, which I may not have seen or understood before.
Saint Augustine compared the human heart with the underground labyrinths. And we can see so deeply in those labyrinths, how deeply they can be illuminated by the light with which we go underneath.
Something similar is in prayer. So deeply we can understand and recognize personal needs, how deeply the Word of God and the grace of the Holy Spirit will illuminate the underground galleries of our soul, and then we can see those zigzags that make up our inner personal life and spiritual world.
– Since the time when the first blood was shed on the Maidan, and then in the eastern part of the country, Ukrainians began to resort to the prayer more consciously, because “whenever there is anxiety, go to God.” But the presidential elections showed a “clinical picture” of our society – the Ukrainians, like those underloved children, do not know how to be grateful and respect the polar opposite opinion and the right to choose for their neighbor. How to teach our nation to be grateful to each other and to God?
Man, like society, is very variable. We can not believe in God once and for all! We must every day fill our moment of life with God’s presence.
You can not pray once and for all. No, we must pray all the time. It is because when we do not change for the better, then necessarily become worse.
This is a permanent process. Therefore, sometimes we have periods of rise, and sometimes – periods of decline, sorrow. I would call the present moment of our historical existence a period of great pain. The war inflicted a wound on us. And we may not have fully understood this wound … It hurts, it provokes a certain action – to rethink our entire history and to re-look at how we move on.
The first reaction of the injured person is to close, to separate the wound so that no one else can touch it, or to irritate it. That is why we have a great temptation to close ourselves today.
There is a great danger of the collapse of society into separate fragments groups, or individuals who try to isolate themselves from everything that is happening around them.
Such a reaction is understandable, but it is very dangerous. We must pray, because the One who can heal this pain and turn the great suffering into a great treasure is the power and grace of the Holy Spirit!
Therefore, I encourage people not to close in their pain, but to open it to God. This wound can be cured when I serve my neighbor. Serving others, solidarity, united prayer for Ukraine, joint struggle, work for the common good of our people – these are the medicines, the recipes that the Lord God entrusts us so that we can cure our wound, be successful, triumphant in our struggle, on our way, in our common home, in our Ukraine, which we love, with our God!