Archbishop Victor: Ukraine’s spiritual unity is felt in Sviatogorsk Lavra
The UOC hierarch spoke about his trip to the Sviatogorsk Lavra and his conversation with Metropolitan Arseniy.
On 16 November 2022, Archbishop Victor (Kotsaba), Head of the UOC Mission to European International Organizations, described his trip to the Sviatogorsk Lavra with a humanitarian mission in a video posted on the UOC Youtube channel.
According to Bishop Victor, the main purpose of the trip was not only the delivery of humanitarian aid, although it is necessary for those living in the monastery, but "the words of spiritual support on behalf of our Primate".
The UOC hierarch is talking about a video message by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Onuphry, given to Metropolitan Arseniy. "In recent months, His Beatitude has often thought of the Lavra and worried, worried and prayed," Archbishop Victor stressed.
He said that "it was a great support for the abbot and brethren to hear His Beatitude's words, to see us, representatives of the Kyiv Eparchy, and feel that they are not abandoned, they are not alone”.
"Whatever predicament the whole of Ukraine and our Church is in, we worry for one another. If we have trouble in one part, all other parts will help, so that people feel this support, which is a manifestation of our unity in Christ, our spiritual unity," stressed Bishop Victor.
He spoke about the difficulties experienced by the Lavra during the period of military operations. There was a time when there was a lack of food, and the monks ate only porridge and stew made of unripe pumpkins.
Nowadays the monastery is provided with all the necessary things and even helps the inhabitants of Sviatogorsk and neighbouring villages. Today there are 370 people living in the Lavra – these are the brethren and displaced people. "But there is also Sviatogorsk, which has also been de-occupied, and today about 500 people remain there. The Lavra helps them, sharing everything it has," Father Victor stressed.
"The Sviatogorsk Lavra, which has always been the heart and spiritual pearl of the Donbas, remains such a heart of Sviatogorsk and the surrounding communities today. And as long as the heart beats, life goes on," said Archbishop Victor.
He recalled that while the Lavra was under fire, miracles happened there almost daily. For example, Vladyka told how once, as he was leaving the church, he decided to return and lay his hands on the relics of the saints, and as soon as he entered back into the church, a shell flew into the place where he was standing.
"If the saints hadn't called him in, it's scary to imagine what could have happened," Father Victor commented. He also described how fires that appeared after shelling stopped when the akathist to the icon of the Mother of God Neopalimaya Kupina (literaly Unburnt Bush) was read.
Vladyka Victor said with what joy he, Vladyka Arseniy and the Lavra monks met the news of the liberation of Kherson. "I recall the words of Metropolitan Arseniy, who said that when our people suffer and we suffer with them when our people rejoice and we rejoice with them. It was a joy for our people. We saw a video of those people there in Kherson welcoming the Armed Forces of Ukraine," the archbishop said. According to him, the Church rejoices with the people.
"We join in this universal joy with the hope that all the horrors that are taking place in our land will come to an end. But we believe that by the strength of our prayer (although it surely should have been even stronger), by the strength of our faith (although it surely also needs more effort) we will achieve the bright future that lies ahead and live in a free independent Ukraine, which we all love, in which we were born and in which we want to end our lives," Archbishop Victor said in conclusion.
As reported, the Sviatogorsk Lavra brotherhood handed over humanitarian aid to the residents of Sviatogorsk.