Although most Ukrainian Greek Catholics won’t be celebrating Pascha for more than another month, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Patriarch of Kyiv-Halych and All Rus, has already issued his annual Paschal message so that the faithful — Eastern and Western — following the Gregorian Calendar can benefit from its words as they prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The full text of the letter is available here. What follows are three paragraphs which stood out to me in particular.
Not all are able to receive this message of salvation. To speak of the Christ-Lamb, crucified on the cross, in today’s world seems as problematic as it was in the times of the earliest Christians. This was St. Paul’s understanding when he wrote: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart’” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19). Even though Christ’s Gospel is being preached now for almost two thousand years, often it seems that the world, even one that calls itself “Christian,” still understands only the language of riches, affluence, power, weaponry, and might. Manifestations of the folly of the mighty of this world never disappear from the arena of history. They take on different forms: empires, reichs, unions, federations, led by individuals, who propose themselves instead of God, and impose on others their own depravation as a measure of truth.
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Most often, it is in weakness and infirmity that God’s power and God’s wisdom is revealed. What is important is not to allow oneself to be tempted, or deceived, or discouraged in our fight, for that, against which we struggle, is merely a manifestation of the unclean spirit, who shakes, falls to the ground, foams at the mouth and convulses, for it knows that by the blood of the unblemished Paschal Lamb its end is near (see Mark 9:17-27). The Risen Christ, who through suffering and death carries us over to resurrection and eternal life, comes to us today showing us the wounds on His glorified body. As then he spoke to his frightened apostles, so today he says to us, his disciples: “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” (Luke 24:38).
How much have we already experienced the “impossible” made possible for those, who firmly kept their faith in the Risen Lord! Seventy years ago the evil one decided once again to crucify our people and drag our Church into the grave. However, to the surprise of the entire world, she rose and became stronger than at any time in her history. At the Lviv pseudo-sobor of 1946 the enemy attempted to forcibly separate us from unity with the successor to the apostle Peter. Today we are living witness to how the blood of the martyrs and confessors of our Church has forever sealed this Catholic unity and become a force of resilience and resurrection for Ukraine, a force for the unity of its people, and a catalyst for social renewal. Indeed, through such a witnessing of faith in the resurrection an authentic unification of the Churches of Ukraine is possible, a restoration of the unity of the Churches of Kyivan Christianity, which we have received as an inheritance from Prince Volodymyr, equal-to-the-apostles.