Glory to Jesus Christ!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Today is Tuesday 2 August 2022 and for 160 days now, the Ukrainian people have stood unyieldingly in a heroic struggle against the Russian aggressor, who is invading Ukrainian land and spilling the blood of our brothers and sisters.
We are witnessing that every day, every night, the enemy relentlessly attacks our cities and villages in the east of our homeland, in particular in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The epicentre of hostilities is gradually moving to the south of our homeland, to our wounded Kherson region. The enemy is constantly, in particular at night, shelling the city of Mykolayiv and the city of Kharkiv. There are constant explosions of various origins in our border areas and regions in Sumy Oblast and Chernihiv Oblast.
But Ukraine is standing. Ukraine is fighting. Ukraine is praying.
And we thank God and the Armed Forces of Ukraine for giving us another morning; that we can see daylight; and that we can work for the glory of God and for the benefit of the most needy sons and daughters of our people.
Today I want to continue our journey with you along the paths of the wisdom of Christian prayer. Prayer, which the church fathers called “the breath of our soul.” When a person experiences physical exertion, his body makes him breathe faster because he needs more oxygen. Something similar happens, when we experience some truly tragic, difficult moments in our personal life: our soul requires more frequent breathing. Our heart calls us to go deeper and deeper, evermore towards a fuller prayer. Prayer, which is dialogue, communication, raising the soul, mind, and heart of a person to his God, Creator, and Saviour.
Yesterday we started reflecting with you on the prayer of listening. Because prayer is communication, dialogue. We speak to the Lord God, but then we must give space, the opportunity for the Lord God Himself to speak to us, and we listen to Him. We talked about a very old, ancient practice of listening prayer, which is the prayerful reading of the Holy Scriptures or “Lectio Divina.”
And today, I invite you to get to know better what it means and learn practically how it can be practiced in your personal prayer life. We have already mentioned that the prayerful reading of the Holy Scriptures is aimed at truly communicating with God. Not to gain some intellectual knowledge through the study of the Holy Scriptures. And that is why such a “Lectio Divina” prayer with the Holy Scriptures has five important steps that must be taken in order to hear God’s Word, which the Lord addresses to me today. These five steps are as follows: first, preparation (preparatio); secobd, reading (lectio); third, spiritual reflection on what we heard (meditatio); fourth, our response to the heard word, which turns into a prayer (oratio); and fifth, contemplation of God, abiding in His word, which is called (contemplatio).
And so the first step of the preparatio consists in choosing the right part of the Holy Scriptures for reading, and therefore the right way to approach it. According to the experience of the Church, we suggest for prayer with the Holy Scriptures, especially for beginners, to choose the book of the Holy Gospels, in particular the Gospel of Luke. In our Church, there are many different supplemental plans that advise how to divide this text into smaller passages. You don’t need to read a lot of text. But it is necessary to really divide it into small fragments, and therefore focus attention on what we will find there, as a space of communication with God. The second moment of this first preparation, such a moment, is our appeal to God. Because really, we have to get ready, prepare our inner guard, our heart, our mind for listening. We so often do not know how to listen to others, so it is difficult to start listening to the Lord God.
So, even when we have found the appropriate text, we need to stop. It is necessary to turn to the Lord God with a prayer, asking Him to speak. God, speak to me, here I am listening, I dedicate that time to You. I want to close my ear to all other voices. I want to recognize Your voice in my heart. God, speak to me. And therefore be ready that the Lord God will speak.
I want to wish all of you to really learn to listen to God’s Word correctly. Because God’s Word builds. The heavens were formed by God’s Word. And by the power of that Word of God, all the beauty of the world arose. God spoke and the world began to exist. When God speaks to me, He rebuilds me, heals me, inspires me, gives me strength to live. May the Lord God by His power restore all our vital resources. And will give us the necessary inner ability to continue our life mission and defeat evil with good.
Today I want to especially ask you to pray for those who are in the occupied territories or those who ended up right in the war zone. Because just these days there is a whole campaign of evacuations and rescues of those people who are in direct danger of death in the war zone.
Pray for those people. Pray for those who become very vulnerable when they start the evacuation process. Let’s pray for our volunteers, social workers, drivers, who are ready to take out from under enemy fire the old men, women, children, all those who are waiting for rescue.
Yesterday we received very sad news that in the Kherson region the enemy shot at such an evacuation bus at close range, and at least two people were killed. Let us pray that the Lord God save all those who are in direct danger of death today. May He make all our human efforts to save human life successful by His power.
O God, bless Ukraine. O God, bless the Ukrainian people. O God, save us from the murderous hand of our enemy. And grant Ukraine victory.
May the blessing of the Lord be upon you through His grace and love of mankind, always, now and ever, and for ages of ages. Amen.
Glory to Jesus Christ!