Moscow, April 19, 2014
Before the feast of Holy Pascha, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia offered up a prayer for peace in the Ukraine, reports Patriarchia.ru.
After the Liturgy of Great Saturday, served on April 19 at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, His Holiness delivered his patriarchal speech to the faithful:
"By this wonderful service—the Liturgy of the Great Saturday—we enter the celebration of Holy Pascha. And though, astronomically, Pascha begins at midnight, when the whole Church sings the hymn to the Risen Christ, already now, since the Liturgy was connected with Vespers, and, according to the Church canon, a feast begins from the evening, we are entering this festival. This Saturday is the most blessed one, Christ has fallen asleep on it, died a special death—this was the physical human death which was unable to destroy His Divine Body. And we know that at the moment of Resurrection the Lord Rose from the dead. This is the greatest event in the history of the mankind.
In this spiritually stressed moment of our religious life, when we open our hearts towards the Lord, the Risen Savior of the world, I would like to call upon all of you, all our Church, to offer up a fervent and sincere prayer for the Ukraine.
Politically, the Ukraine is a foreign country, but spiritually and historically this has never been the case. We are one nation before God, we confess the same Orthodox faith, although someone very much wants to say that the Ukrainian people confess other faiths as well. We do have respect to religious minorities, but we proclaim and will continue proclaiming that the Ukraine is an Orthodox country, inherently connected with Holy Rus’.
Today we must pray for the people of Rus’ who live in the Ukraine, so that the Lord should conciliate the Ukrainian land, so that He by no means should allow any civil war inside the Ukrainian state or dissension between the Ukraine and Russia, that He should stop the schemes of those who wish to divide Holy Rus’ by political means or by force. This has happened in history more than once but nobody has ever succeeded in it. And today, as there is a great temptation to combine this rupture with obtaining military and political superiority, we the Orthodox children of the Holy Rus’ must pray to the Lord for conciliation of the Ukraine, for stopping of violence, for establishing peace, lest the peoples of Holy Rus’ should ever become enemies to each other, lest anybody should ever use the peoples of Holy Rus’ to suit their own ends, to cause a war between them, weaken their spiritual life and, first of all, Orthodoxy.
Having respect to the sovereignty of the modern Ukraine, today we will also pray so that the Lord might help overcome the political and social crisis in this country, so that the authorities might be elected in accordance with the law, so that through legal means those changes, which are being expected by the Ukrainian people, are made in the country's constitution, and so that the enemy of the mankind by no means should ever create hostility inside the Ukraine as or in the whole historical Holy Rus’".
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill noted that beginning from Holy Wednesday, according to the church Canon full prostrations are not made, but, considering the special importance of the situation in the Ukraine, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church blessed all those present at the church to kneel. The Patriarch himself knelt, lifted up his hands and read a prayer:
"O God in the Highest, Master and Maker of all creation, Who fillest all things with Thy greatness and holdest all things by Thy power. To Thee, our greatly-gifted Lord we fall down with contrite heart and ardent prayer for the Ukrainian land, which is torn apart by dispute and disorder. O Most Merciful and All-Powerful Lord, be not utterly angered! Be merciful unto us, Thy Church prays, offering to Thee, the author and accomplisher of our salvation, Jesus Christ. Strengthen by Thy power the faithful people of the Ukrainian land, enlighten with Thy divine light the eyes of reason of those who have gone astray, that they may comprehend Thy truth. Soften their bitterness, quench the enmity and disorder which have been raised up against the land and its peaceful people, that all may know Thee, our Lord and Saviour. Turn not Thy face away from us, O Lord, grant us the joy of Thy salvation. Remember the mercies which Thou hast shown our fathers, turn Thine anger into mercy and give Thy succor to the Ukrainian people who are in sorrow.
The Russian Church prays Thee, offering to Thee the intercessions of all the saints that have shone forth in it, and especially of the Most Holy Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary who has from ancient times protected and interceded for our lands. Warm our hearts with the warmth of Thy grace, affirm our will in Thy will, that, as in ancient times, so also now, Thy most holy Name may be glorified, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, unto the ages of ages. Amen".
The first time a prayer for peace in the Ukraine with the blessing of Patriarch Kirill was offered up in all churches of the Russian Orthodox Church on February 23 of this year.