The Orthodox faithful of Ukraine both east and west are uniting in a prayerful, inspiring procession of the cross. It began on July 3 in Donetsk as an initiative of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. A week later, it was supported by the western inhabitants of Ukraine, who launched their own procession in the Ternopol region on July 9. Both columns of believers are going to meet each other in Kiev at the Caves Lavra—the heart of Orthodox Rus’—on July 27 on the eve of the Baptism of Rus’ celebration.
More than ten thousand pilgrims have joined the Cross Procession—men and women, old and young. They are praying that the civil war would end, that love would reign in Ukrainian hearts, and that all would turn in this time of need to the everlasting source of life in Jesus Christ and His Church.
The Union of Orthodox Journalists has produced a video documenting this phenomenal procession:
And indeed prayer is also needed to protect the participants from certain nationalistic elements of Ukrainian society who see the procession as a threat to Ukrainian independence, and strangely as some form of Moscow “aggression”. They intend to obstruct it in any way that can. One Ukrainian politician, Yury Romanenko, even promised to have crosses set up along the road—not as a symbol of peace but as threats to crucify the faithful participating. Another member of the Ukrainian Parliament, Alexander Vilkul has responded to this threat by demanding that the police force provide for the procession’s safety, the UOJ reports.
Metropolitan Onuphry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)
His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry has encouraged all the faithful in the Ukraine to participate in some way. Those who are able, let them walk, he said. But anyone can participate by offering food and drink to the procession participants as they walk, or simply by keeping a prayer rule that he has outlined:
Read privately twelve times a day the Lord’s Prayer, and the prayer “Mother of God and Virgin rejoice”, then the “Prayer for Peace in the Ukraine”:
Prayer rule to be read by the faithful for peace in the Ukraine
Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
O Mother of God and Virgin, rejoice, Mary full of Grace the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb. For thou hast born the Savior of our souls.
PRAYER FOR PEACE IN THE UKRAINE
To Almighty Lord, for peace and ceasing of civil strife
O Master Almighty, Lord most Merciful, accept our prayers in this time of our grief, offered to Thee before Thy Holy Table on bended knees and with humble tears. Accept the entreaties of all our holy kinsmen, whom we now call to intercede for us and help us, so that the light of Thy love, shone forth from Thy Cross, would enlighten every man and woman who suffers in this world darkened by enmity and strife.
Accept the plea of the holy and right-believing Prince Vladimir, who baptized and enlightened our land; accept the prayers of the holy passion-bearers Boris and Gleb, who teach us not to lift up our hand against our brother; accept the intercession of Thy holy ones Anthony and Theodosius, and with them all the venerable fathers and mothers, who with tears of repentance made their souls whiter than snow; accept the struggles of the New Martyrs and Confessors, who by their sufferings have preserved for us the saving faith in Thee; accept the petitions of all the saints of Thy Church, who hallowed our land with their labors. And especially accept the prayer and Protection of Thy Most Holy Mother, our Sovereign Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, through Whose unfailing intercession Thy people were saved from every hostility and civil strife many times in the past.
Hear us O God our Savior, and be merciful, be merciful, O Master, to all who suffer and are heavy laden, and forgive us our sins, teaching us also to forgive those who sin against us, and turn Thy anger to Thy mercy, calming down every agitation and every conflict in our land, for Thou art our God of mercy and compassion toward mankind, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now, and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.