Christ is in our midst, my dear readers!
We do not choose the time we are to be born in this world, but we do choose how we will spend our time in the world. We choose how to leave this world—either holding on to Christ’s hand, or hooked onto the devil’s tail. This is our choice of where we will live in eternity. We can call a man happy who by God’s Providence was born after the Savior’s coming into the world—after all, from that time, the Kingdom of God became accessible to all. This path demands ascetic labors and suffering from us, but it is precisely thanks to it that we enter the Heavenly mansions.
Recall the history of the ancient Christian Church. Were the arenas filled with Jews? Did they throw masses of pagans to the lions? No, you could freely believe in whomever you wanted however you wanted, only not Christians in Christ. They were supposed to be destroyed; and in order to justify innocent deaths, ridiculous lies were conjured up to slander followers of Christ.
What has changed since then? Very much. “Openness” and “democracy” have come into the world. The entire international community watches with an eagle eye so that human rights and freedom of conscience be observed everywhere. Could anyone have supposed that in a democratic country, trampling on the Constitution, human and religious rights, a multi-million-strong confession would have its lavras, churches, and monasteries taken away from it? That just like in the times of Nero, Diocletian, Stalin, Khruschev, and other persecutors, Christians would again be harassed due to the most ridiculous slander? As it turns out, it’s possible. And this is happening in the very center of Europe. Only recently we thought that the physical annihilation of Orthodox Christians was not possible in any civilized countries. But we can see that in our country [Ukraine] the media has become analogous to the “free radio and television of the thousand hills” of Kigali in 1993–94. By all appearances the same lot is being prepared for the UOC as was prepared for the Tutsi in Rwanda.1 But this doesn’t bother the international community in the least, and we understand perfectly why not.
Why is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church being persecuted? Because thousands of our parishioners are now defending our Motherland? Because we give aid to the Ukrainian armed forces, refugees, and families left without a roof over their heads? Because the UOC has remained faithful to its country and people? No, not for all this. But because we have remained faithful to Christ and the Gospel. Because we have not agreed to be led by the world that hates God, we have not agreed to compromise our conscience, the canons of the Church; we have not given in to heretics, schismatics, and the godless. This is our main crime. And we are in agreement with it. Glory be to God for all things!