The Question We Must All Answer During Lent

The Chancellor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanich), a highly respected theologian from Carpathian Rus’, explains which question we must answer during Great Lent. Let us keep this ever in mind, and during this period of the holy forty days of fasting and prayer, remember that we can only conquer evil in the world by conquering evil in ourselves. And let us struggle and pray.


It behooves us to answer the main question of our lives: “Whose side am I on?”

This includes both on a large-scale, and in a small, everyday way.

The choice is between good and evil, truth and falsehood; we’ve known the concept of heroes and villains since childhood. All good stories[1] are built around the confrontation of good and evil, and all the best of them contain this plot. And each time we plunge into reading, we choose which side we are on, who we are with, which of the characters we support.

Fairy tales for children become relevant for adults, in our lives today. The mission remains the same. In any situation, whether it’s a great or minor question, we are faced with a choice: telling the truth or lying, being happy for a person or envious of him, smiling and supporting others or spewing insults and belittlement, defending or betraying.

And every time we make a choice, we choose to be on the side of good or evil.

Today, the Church and Her children are being tested. The enemy of the human race is rushing to schism, divide, and disunify the Church, the Bride of Christ, by any means.

Throughout the entire life of the Church, many attempts have been made to undermine its unity, but not one of them has been successful. All plots were revealed, and the enemies of the Church were put to shame.

Thus, it shall remain forever. Thus, the Lord promised, and His words are the only truth and reality. Everything else is a mirage in the desert; demonic tricks seeking to hide the truth from people.

Therefore, it is so important to constantly trust God, to hear Him. In times of confusion, it is necessary to make a special effort to multiply the goodness in our hearts.

To be with God and His Church means to bring love and goodness to others, to warm them with care, attention and warmth, to protect them from calamity, to stand in the truth. Always—both in the little things, and in the great ones.

Darkness constantly offers a person a compromise—the substitution of truth for a surrogate. So, it seeks to replace the True God with various false gods and idols (as it were, these are material goods and benefits); to replace the Church with false churches (breakaway and lost communities), and love with an imitation of love.

A person can make a compromise with their conscience, and fall away from the Lord for two reasons: pride and the love of money. The enemy also often successfully plays on these strings, seducing people, dragging them into the abyss of delusions and betrayal.

It is necessary to constantly monitor these passions in yourself, not to let your guard down even for a moment. We must strive to be faithful to all the best and beautiful[2] things that are in our lives. And the best of everything and all, is our perfect God.

Our choice is to be with Him, to be on the side of good, no matter what the cost.

We will ask the Lord to give us courage, courage to be with Him until the end of all earthly life and forever in eternal life.

[1] In the original Russian, the word used is primarily translated as fairy tales, however in modern English, this can have a juvenile connotation, whereas in the Russian it can also refer to epics. This is best understood through the theological view of J.R.R. Tolkien, who considered fairy tales, myths, and fantasy to contain within themselves, the capacity of truth, small little truths, which point to Christianity—what he called “God’s true myth”. He would site as examples the concept of a fall and a redemption, death and the resurrection, all of which exist in many mythologies, and can be interpreted in a Christian way, in the same way the Church throughout history Christianized and incorporated aspects of local cultures.

[2] The Greek and Slavonic word for Good, for example, as used in Genesis to describe the created world, has the duel meaning of beautiful; as a result, the Philokalia has the meaning, “Love of that which is Good”, and “which is beautiful”. It is in this light, the quote of Dostoyevsky that “beauty will save the world,” takes on a most Orthodox meaning—Trans.

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