I sincerely congratulate all of you, dear friends, on the Day of Remembrance of the Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Volodymyr, on the Day of the Baptism of Rus!
Traditionally, this bright celebration attended by many people begins the day before, with a thanksgiving prayer service at the foot of the monument to the Holy Baptizer of our people on Volodymyrska Hill, over the waters of the Dnieper River – our common baptismal font.
The pinnacle event in the framework of the Feast is the Great All-Ukrainian Religious Procession (the Procession of the Cross) to the spiritual heart of our Motherland – the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra to participate in the festive conciliar divine service.
It is always a great joy of common prayer, in which the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from all parts of our country take part.
According to preliminary estimates, more than 350,000 people took part in the Procession of the Cross this year.
By the tablets carried by the believers one could trace the entire geography of Ukraine, could see the true face of our people – beautiful, spiritualized, and kind.
These people did not come to Kyiv to prove anything to anyone, and to chant some loud slogans. They came to thank God for the invaluable gift of the Orthodox Faith, which our people have lived with and have saved themselves by for more than a thousand years, and to consecrate this land with the prayer of hundreds of thousands of lips and hearts.
The Procession of the Cross is a spiritual and bodily feat of a believer. This is a great opportunity to show your love for God and your neighbours, sacrificing your time, your deeds and cares, your own strength, for the sake of His Mercy to us sinners.
However strong were attempts of politicians from different camps to politicize the Procession of the Cross, we saw with our own eyes that this is not about strife and splits, not about passions and quarrels. This is the territory of the centuries-old people’s faith, which is capable of changing any rational mindsets and gives a place for God to work miracles.
The main goal of the Procession of the Cross is peace, unity, faith, hope and love.
Celebrating the Day of the Baptism of Rus, we again and again re-live this majestic and fateful event, return to our origins, comprehend history and modernity.
Having learned the truth and beauty of the Orthodox Faith, the Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Volodymyr saw in it a huge potential for uniting our people, for developing all the talents given to them by God, for building up, on a previously unattainable level, of politics, economy, and culture.
The path of life of Saint Prince Volodymyr shows how much depends on who stands at the height of public liability, how great is the price of their mistakes and their successes. How fateful decisions made by a leader can influence the course of history for decades and even centuries to come. And to this day, this remains the best example for any ruler in our country, which is worth studying and comprehending.
I once again congratulate you all on this Feat! Happy day of spiritual birth of our people! Happy Christianization of Rus Day!