The Conception of St. John the Forerunner and the Cannonade of Death

Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhie’s wartime notes


Christ is in our midst, my dear readers!

Today [October 6], when the Church celebrates the miraculous conception of St. John the Forerunner, our hearts are filled with pain. On the eve of Divine Liturgy, early morning in the city as the result of artillery fire houses were destroyed, and innocent civilians died. A certain diabolical smirk can be felt in this bloody all-night “festal” vigil of death. Not on the theoretical but on the practical plane do we need to think about the meaning of our lives. None of those people who perished this morning was preparing even the evening before to set off for the other world. But now they are no longer with us on earth. They were no more sinful or righteous than us who are still alive. It was simply their fate to leave this life, according to God’s unfathomable Providence.

The words of St. John the Forerunner sound more relevant to us today than ever: Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand! This world with its false glamour and glory passes. Only smoking ruins, lamentation and tears remain. My heart’s desire is that we be saved. Therefore I ask you: In these sorrowful days do not allow fear, faintheartedness, unbelief, hate, or anger into your hearts. Those who sow death will be judged by God. They too will appear before His judgment sooner or later. But we need to learn to trust God in everything.

“Let us commit ourselves, and all our lives, and one another unto Christ our God”, we pray during the divine services. We don’t have to suggest to God what He “should” do, who He should “punish”, or who He should “forgive”. We are not his advisors. He Himself will sort everything out. We would do better to obey God and live according to His commandments. When He spoke with people in the language of love and freely gave them His abundant gifts, human hearts remained deaf. Now He is shouting to them in their ears with sorrows and catastrophes in hopes that people’s souls would awaken from their sinful sopor and at live at least the remaining part of their lives in prayer and repentance. But unfortunately, the majority of people, despite all the horrors of war, do not hasten to church, do not change their lives, and do not even think of repenting. Even more terribly, they become victims of the propaganda of anger and hate. But after all, even in the times of paganism, people who were far from faith in the true God perceived calamities and woes as a call to repentance.

God loves us more than our own father and mother. He pities us, so that we might enter into the unwaning light of His eternal life. And now, in this difficult time, God is close to us like never before. Only people’s hearts are unfortunately, as before, far from Him.

Metropolitan Luke (Kovalenko) of Zaporozhye and Melitopol
Translation by



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