The Address of Metropolitan Onuphry on the occasion of the All-Ukrainian cross procession
Reverend archpastors and pastors,
Pious monastics, dear brothers and sisters!
There arise such moments in the life of every Christian when he must recall that he is not just a believer but part of the Orthodox Church—the Body of Christ, and the fate of the Church and our country depends on each one of us.
The long history of our land includes not a few tragic pages. Our land has survived many trials. The greatest trouble has always been war, and in the most difficult times the people have united in common prayer to God and the Most-Holy Theotokos, supplicating their help. And we know, how many times, when it seemed that every hope for salvation had died, the Mother of God protected our cities and villages from perdition.
The strength of prayer of our countrymen many times has saved our Church and our land. Now such prayer is needed from us.
With deep pain of heart we are all now suffering a new tragedy of the continuing armed conflict in eastern Ukraine which sheds the innocent blood of our countrymen. The most our Church can do is to call for peace and to intensify prayers for the granting of peace to our Ukrainian land, which we have done since the beginning of the armed conflict. But, despite the peacekeeping mission of our Church, people are trying to make it hostile to Ukrainian society. Today on the peaceful territory of Ukraine an interfaith war is flaring up, created by various provocations directed against clergy and parishioners in particular, and against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as a whole. However, we know of frequent cases when the uniting power of prayer has worked wonders.
And therefore, with our blessing, the dioceses of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will hold an All-Ukrainian cross procession with prayer for Ukraine, beginning June 9 in western Ukraine from the Holy Dormition-Pochaev Lavra, and June 3 in eastern Ukraine from the Holy Dormition-Svyatogorsk Lavra. On July 27, the eve of the commemoration of the Baptism of Kievan Rus' and of the Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir, the cross processions will meet on Vladimir Hill in Kiev and together continue to the Holy Dormition-Kiev Caves Lavra for the celebration of the solemn Church services. The cross processions will be accompanied by the miraculous Pochaev and Svyatogorsk icons of the Mother of God and other revered sacred objects.
This cross procession, beginning simultaneously from the west and east will process across our entire state. It will, in fact, unite Ukraine, for the Orthodox Church always was and is that strength which unites all of our nation’s people.
A cross procession is not just our spiritual podvig, but is a conscious, willful act of every Christian soul which follows the Gospel commandments in deed. Therefore, just to contemplate a procession is not enough. It is the time to manifest our Christian conscience.
He who can walk a long way in the cross procession, let him join in. He who can participate only in his local place of habitation, let him do so. He who can feed the pilgrims, it will be your form of participation in our common great work.
When the Lord demanded repentance from the people of Nineveh, they listened to Him and turned their hearts from evil and violence. They refused food and water, and for this podvig the Lord had mercy on them.
We believe that the Mother of God, who so many times defended our land, today stands with tears by the throne of her Son praying for us. And we must, having cast aside anger, hatred, and malice, and having armed ourselves with love and forgiveness, strengthen our podvig of prayer in order to stop the flow of maternal tears, that children might not be made orphans, women—widows, children—invalids, that our cities and towns might not be destroyed, and houses abandoned. Such is the goal of the All-Ukrainian cross procession—a walk of peace, love and prayer for Ukraine.
I invoke the blessing of God upon all the participants of the cross procession and seek for the help of the Almighty in this God-pleasing work!