Met. Theodosy: Church has approached a threshold of trials, we must endure
Whoever thinks that there is grace in schisms – go away, you have nothing to do in the UOC, Metropolitan Theodosy said.
On March 17, 2023, Metropolitan Theodosy of Cherkasy and Kaniv, in a sermon after a service at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Cherkasy, called on the clergy to stand in the canonical truth of the Church, despite persecution and impending trials, reports the press service of the Cherkasy Eparchy.
"The process that is taking place in our society, in our country, logically and inevitably leads to the destruction of the canonical UOC. And if someone thinks that they will only go for the Lavra, they are mistaken. People who ponder the paths of humanity have long understood where our society is going and what the enemy of humankind wants to do with our Church... Our Church has approached a threshold of trials and we, clergy, will also face different tests," said Metropolitan Theodosy.
The hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reminded the clergy that the service of a priest is first and foremost sacrificial rather than comfortable or fashionable.
"Most of our clergy have taken holy orders during the last quarter of a century, during the revival of the Church, during the time of prosperity, when becoming a priest was not only not sacrificial, but also prestigious, “fashionable”, and even profitable for some. And, unfortunately, there are people among our clergy who still have not understood the sacrificial nature of a priest's ministry, that a priest should be close to God not only when it is good for him on earth, but also when the time of trials comes," said Metropolitan Theodosy.
"That is why, although few in number, there are now priests who either fall away from the Church, going into schisms, or remain within the Church and try to dictate their terms to Her: how to preserve comfort, how to keep status in society, how to save what we have, including temples, monuments of architecture – how to preserve all this, but not to make a sacrifice for Christ. Such priests have already earned from true believers the name of "priest gapon", following the example of the priest Gapon, who in 1905 led people in a demonstration to be shot. You and I should not be like that," stressed Metropolitan Theodosy.
The UOC hierarch also noted that the strength to withstand the coming trials is given by apostolic succession and grace.
"We must stand in our faith, we must stand in the canonical truth of our Church. Even if they deprive us of our churches, if they outlaw us, if groundless criminal cases are opened against us, we must stand firm. The strength to stand before God is given to us by apostolic succession, grace acting in us, which comforts and strengthens us. What distinguishes us from other Orthodox denominations in Ukraine is the pearl that we have found and that we must take care of by the Gospel word. Who doesn't understand that, who thinks that the grace of apostolic succession exists in the schisms – you have nothing to do in the UOC. Go away! "To the free – will, to the saved – heaven." Leave us to our feat of confession. We believe that for the sake of this feat, we came to earth and became priests," said Metropolitan Theodosy.
"But at the same time, we deeply believe that our land, the land of Kievan Rus, the land of Yaroslav the Wise, Prince Volodymyr, Princess Olha, reverend confessors, new martyrs, is a land not only sanctified by martyr's blood but also a land dedicated to the Mother of God in the distant X century. We believe that Our Lady chose our land as Her inheritance, which means She will not abandon it. And if we are driven out of our temples, if we are finally driven out of lavras and monasteries, the Mother of God will never leave us where we pray and serve canonical liturgies – in flats, houses, attics and basements," expressed confidence Metropolitan Theodosy.
"Wherever the canonical Orthodox liturgy takes place, our society and our people will exist for its sake. And it is these cells of liturgical life that Mother of God will particularly cover until you and I realize our sins before God and why the Lord allowed such a trial to our canonical UOC. When we are fully aware and repent of our sins, then we will be set free again, again Our Lady will open to us wide opportunities – to inhabit not only those monasteries, which we have revived for 30 years, but also to build new ones, to flourish with spiritual life and to sing glory to our God in our land, as ascetics of piety predicted, especially in the XX century," said Metropolitan Theodosy.
The UOC hierarch gave his blessing to priests who will be expelled from their churches to take the antimins and serve at home.
"If we are to be outlawed, it is blessed for all faithful clergy who will be expelled from their churches to take the antimins and serve at home. To unite around themselves the faithful of the Church, to warm the spiritual life – and it will never fade away around the chalices of Christ until we are free again. And this time will surely come," said Metropolitan Theodosy.
As previously reported, a special prayer for the Church suffering from persecution will be read in the Eparchy of Cherkasy.