With gratitude and admiration, I gaze today on your pastoral zeal for human souls in these circumstances of great universal pain and general anxiety. I was particularly impressed with the words of our brother in Italy, who said: “I do not fear this virus! I am only afraid of becoming a carrier of this disease and threatening the lives of my parishioners through infection.”
His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Father and Head of the UGCC, wrote this in his Pastoral Letter to the Clergy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on Holy Thursday. According to the Head of the UGCC, such zeal and Christian consciousness, even in regards to upholding the rules of quarantine in the fulfilment of priestly duties, is an expression of the readiness of a pastor to be close to his people and to “lay down his life for his sheep” (see Jn 10:15).
He thanked to all priests who recorded a video appeal to our faithful with the message, “We are with you!” “I rejoice in the fact that you long for living communication with your people and are seeking every possible way to be with them and give them the possibility of feeling your care and prayer,” wrote His Beatitude Sviatoslav.
In his Pastoral, The Primate remembered also those pastors, who fulfil their assigned ministry on the Ukrainian front-line positions of today—our hospital and military chaplains. “I am convinced that these new circumstances will allow our people to better know and love their Church, and through your ministry—to a deeper trust in the Lord God,” he said.
The Head of the Church observed that already today, in these unusual circumstances of quarantine, we must prepare for its completion. “Most assuredly we will emerge from forced self-isolation and will return to and help others return to the normal rhythm of our church life and ministry! For it is the Lord who gives us the light of hope that together we will defeat the wounds of the epidemic. Possibly we are not yet fully aware of all the economic and socio-political difficulties that await us all. But no one can take away from us the joy of the Resurrection. Let us rejoice, like the apostles, who, having seen the risen Saviour, cast aside all doubt, and their disappointment was transformed into hope. May this joy and hope of the Resurrection be the message of our preaching, as it was in apostolic times!”
At the end of the Pastoral, His Beatitude sincerely greeted the priests on this special day—the day when the Holy Mystery of the Priesthood was established. “My wish for all of you, that the Holy Spirit with his breath may always renew in your souls the seal of the priesthood in the order of Melchizedek, and even in the most difficult moments may remind you of the joy of that initial love of Christ, that we experienced at our first Divine Liturgy—the joy of being his forever!”
The UGCC Department for Information