Glory to Jesus Christ!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Today is Thursday 28 July 2022, and for the 155th day the Ukrainian people have been in a heroic struggle against the Russian aggressor, who came to kill, destroy, burn, and ruin our land and our peaceful life.
During the last day and last night, Ukraine bled again. The most intense fighting was concentrated in the Donetsk region. There is the largest concentration of Russian weapons, the most intense attacks on Ukraine. But the enemy continues so-called missile terrorism. The border territories of Chernihiv Oblast and Sumy Oblast were shelled. This morning, almost all night long, air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv, and the enemy launched a rocket attack on the Vyshhorod district near Kyiv. In the same way, our Mykolayiv was shelled with rockets early in the morning, serious destruction was caused to educational and scientific institutions, there are many wounded people. Our Kharkiv region is suffering and crying. The city of Kharkiv is constantly and mercilessly shelled every day, but for several days in a row, rescue operations have been underway in the city of Chuhuiv, where the city was shelled with rockets, and people’s bodies are still being retrieved from the rubble to this day.
But Ukraine is standing. Ukraine is fighting. Ukraine is praying.
Today, our people, our homeland is celebrating a triple holiday. Today we remember the memory of Equal-to-the-Apostles Grand Prince Volodymyr, the one who baptized of Rus-Ukraine, the one who gave us the faith of Christ, and in the baptismal font of the Dnipro waters, the birth of the new people of God of the Kyiv state took place. So today we also celebrate the state holiday of the Baptism of Rus-Ukraine. But for the first time since its establishment, our state also celebrates today the holiday of Ukrainian statehood, which has a thousand-year history.
1000 years of state building, in particular here, in Kyiv, on the holy mountains of Kyiv. 1000 years of the struggle of the people of our homeland for their free, conciliar, and independent Ukrainian state, which was destroyed more than once. This statehood was stolen from us many times. For centuries, the state-creating Ukrainian people on their native land were forced to live in foreign state formations. But today we take comfort in the possibility of having our own state and we defend it at the cost of our own lives, our own blood.
That is why today we want to remember in prayer all the generations of our predecessors who fought for a free and independent Ukraine. Today, we want to remember in prayer our Ukrainian military, both those who died in the fight, defending their homeland, in particular now from the Russian attacker, and those who today celebrate this day there, on the front lines. It is from this Christian faith of Prince Volodymyr that they draw spiritual strength in order to stand and overcome.
Today we want to pray together so that this treasure of faith of Prince Volodymyr might not be lost in modern times. And Ukrainian statehood, which we are protecting, affirming, and developing today, may always be built on the basis of God’s moral law, the law that was written on the hearts of the people of Kyiv, God’s people of Ukraine at the time of their baptism in the waters of the Dnipro.
We have a special tradition of celebrating the Baptism of Rus-Ukraine, so that it is not just a memory of the past. How can we do this so that today we can live by the faith that Prince Volodymyr gave us? And in order for us to be able to continue this tradition of Christian life, the tradition of our baptismal journey, today we solemnly renew our baptismal vows in our churches, these promises that we gave to God through the mouths of our godparents at the moment of our personal baptism. So, today, when we renew these vows, a special rite is performed in our churches: the priest first invites all those present in the church to turn to face the west, that is, with their backs to the altar and their faces to the entrance of the temple, and he says to them: “Let us turn to the west, where the sun sets, to the place of darkness, and looking at this darkness, let us renounce it. We will renounce Satan and all evil. We want to sincerely declare that we are against the devil, against evil, and do not want to take part in human malice, slander, impurity, and revenge.” And then the priest directs a series of questions to those people who are renewing and restoring their holy vows. They are asked: “Do you renounce Satan, and all his works, and all his worship, and all his angels, and all his pomp?” Today we will solemnly say: “I do renounce him.” “Do you renounce Satan, all pride, gluttony, impurity, envy, intemperance, anger and sloth?” And today we solemnly say: “I renounce.” “Do you renounce Satan and all malice, hatred, revenge, slander, and selfishness?” And we all declare: “I do renounce him.”
And so people turn to face the altar, and then the priest says: “Now let us turn to the east, to the place of light, and looking at that light, which is the image of Jesus Christ, let us declare that we want to connect with this light, answering ‘I join myself to Christ’ to the following questions.” “Do you join yourself to Christ?” asks the priest. We declare today: “I join myself to Christ.” “Are you joining yourself with the greatest good, that is Jesus Christ?” And we say today: “I join myself to Christ.” “Are you joining yourself with the very love, wisdom, peace, and joy that is Jesus Christ?” And we made a statement today, saying: “I have joined myself to Christ”. “Do you believe in Christ?” the Church asks us today. We solemnly say: “I believe in Him, as my King and my God.”
May this faith, which we solemnly renew today on this holy day, be a force that will give us the grace of victory over the devil and his servants, bring blessings to our homeland, strengthen our state, enlighten all those who are in darkness. May the peace of God reign on the blessed Ukrainian land, in free, independent, and conciliar Ukraine.
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!