Kiev, March 16, 2020
His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, addressed the issue of the coronavirus epidemic in his sermon yesterday, Sunday, March 15.
While encouraging the faithful to maintain good standards of hygiene in an effort to combat the spread of the virus, he also called on his flock to turn their attention moreso to spiritual cleansing—to the repentance of sins, for the healing of both soul and body, reports the Information-Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
His Beatitude also reminded the congregation that, unfortunately, this is not the first time that mankind and the Church have faced such challenges.
“Many people are asking: What should we do? How should we act? You know, this is not the first time the Church has faced such a tragedy. In the history of the Church, there have been many different epidemics, cholera, dysentery, and so on,” Met. Onuphry recalled.
‘In such times, the Church has always urged people to adhere to sanitary standards,” the Ukrainian primate said, “and we should not neglect them.”
However, even the most stringent observance of sanitary standards will not always be able to protect someone from the present threat, His Beatitude continued, but rather, the most important thing for a believer is prayer and repentance.
“If we pray, entreat God, and repent of our sins, then we will destroy this sickness,” His Beatitude affirmed. “Therefore, the most important thing in this is not so much sanitary standards as it is prayer and repentance.”
“God allows us to be tested not for our virtues, but for our sins,” Met. Onuphry preached. “And to get rid of this ordeal, to bear it with dignity, we must say: ‘Lord, forgive me, I am a sinner. I have sinned and am guilty and worthy of punishment, but I ask you, Lord, have mercy on me according to Thy mercy.’ This is something that can help us all overcome this temptation, the trial that has reached us today.”
“May the Lord, through the prayers of the venerable fathers of the [Kiev] Caves, whose memory we commemorate today, help us to live in repentance, in fasting and good deeds, and pray to God that He will forgive us our sins, that we may have God’s grace in this earthly life and in eternal life,” the Ukrainian primate wished his flock.