“Today we celebrate Easter in extraordinary circumstances. The celebratory words of undefeated hope – ‘Christ is risen! Truly, he is risen!’ – resound throughout the world this year in empty churches. A new deadly disease forced humankind to stop and rethink the value of human life and its manner of action,” writes His Beatitude Sviatoslav in the Pastoral Letter to the Clergy of the UGCC on Holy Thursday 2020.
The Primate assured the clergy that the Lord “once again calls each of us to come together around his Mystical Table this Holy Thursday.” In establishing the Holy Mystery of the Priesthood of the New Covenant, our Lord makes us a community of partakers in the one Bread – his Body, and one Cup – his Blood. Along with this, our Teacher makes priests a community of his like-minded followers. “Henceforth his Word and example become the centre and meaning of our personal life in today’s world,”s the Head of the Church. The priests should give ear to the anxieties and hopes of humanity today, in order to be able to “faithfully bring before God’s face the prayers and pleas of our entire people.”
A new deadly disease forced humankind to stop and rethink the value of human life and its manner of action. This year, the time of Great Lent suddenly became a time of review and purification of how we build relationships, both with God and with our neighbour. The Head of the Church assures that it is precisely through his priests, the Lord seeks to stand with each fragile and insecure human being in the days of his or her trials.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav writes that through new contemporary means of communication, a unique opportunity to overcome loneliness by the power of prayer has opened up before us. “Possibly more than ever before, pastors now have an opportunity to be in the homes of their faithful through online broadcasts, and to respond to a deep spiritual search for God,” observed the Primate. Today, the pastors are called to shine confidently with the light of faith and care for people entrusted to them.
The dramatic circumstances of universal anxiety and human pain create for priests new and complex challenges. “By celebrating services in empty churches, we become ever more aware that to be a priest of Christ today means to be not merely a celebrant of divine services, but also a builder of culture, possibly, a new and renewed culture of our being together,” emphasized His Beatitude Sviatoslav.
The UGCC Department for Information