The oldest cleric of Kyiv: God examines our faith today

The oldest cleric in Kyiv, Archpriest Vsevolod Rybchinsky. Photo:

The oldest cleric in Kiev, Archpriest Vsevolod Rybchinsky, believes that a pandemic is a kind of test of our faith, our attitude towards church life.

On May 9, 2020, Archpriest Vsevolod Rybchinsky, the oldest clergyman in Kyiv, builder and rector of the St. Olga Cathedral and temple complex, commented on the need to adhere to sanitary standards for the quarantine period in connection with the coronavirus. The interview was published the website of the Kyiv Metropolis.

Speaking about sanitary safety measures introduced at all parishes in Kyiv, he recalled the words of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kyiv and All Ukraine, who called on the flock of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to adhere to all sanitary standards for the period of quarantine. “But at the same time, do not panic, do not reproach, and do not grumble,” the priest added and urged me to humility.

“Humility is the basis of Christian teaching; Christ said, ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls’ (Matthew 11.29). Without humility, a person loses grace; he cannot be affectionate, calm, joyful, obedient. I remember the 70s when I learnt the basics of churching at the Makarov temple in Tatarka, the rector of which was Archpriest George Yedlinsky (+1988), son of the holy martyr Mikhail Yedlinsky (+1937).

Being a Soviet civil engineer, I secretly attended divine services, because the KGB was everywhere, and if I were spotted in the church, I could have a big trouble at work, up to dismissal. There were a lot of young people with higher education in the Tatarka temple who secretly professed Christianity. The operating temples in Kiev could be counted on fingers. Those believers really appreciated this opportunity, risking being persecuted by the authorities, they participated in divine services, confessed and partook of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. We would carefully and for a long time prepare for the Sacrament, not the way we do it now — come, confess, receive communion, and leave ... It was a great event in spiritual life!” Fr. Vsevolod told.

According to him, “having to stay at home now, we all have the opportunity to think carefully if we prepared to meet God in the temple with dignity, if we appreciated the possibility for regular confession and Holy Communion, the possibility to bring children to the temple, attend Sunday school, to participate in various off-duty events, go on pilgrimages around the world…

The Lord lets us take a specific exam of our faith, our attitude to church life, and makes it possible to ‘take stock’ of our personal Christian qualities. We must all be patient and wait for the epidemic to end to attend worship again.”

He explained that if a person needs to confess and partake of the Holy Gifts, “there are priests on duty at the temples. Indeed, in our country the liturgy is celebrated as it was before the lockdown, though now once a week and with the church empty. One can listen to the service in outdoors, observing sanitary standards, take part in the Sacraments. In addition, the priest can visit the sick, if necessary.”

As reported by the UOJ, the Primate of the UOC blessed all dioceses to participate in the control of the pandemic.

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