19 January 2023
Dear sisters and brothers,

I wholeheartedly congratulate you on one of the Twelve Great Feasts, the Baptism of the Lord, the Feast of the Epiphany!

Jesus’s Baptism in the Jordan River was the Saviour’s first step in His earthly ministry. Before going out to preach and founding the Church, in which a person can find salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ took upon Himself all the sins of men, sanctified and renewed all the waters, and with them, the whole created world.

Since then, the water sanctified by the prayers of the Church receives the grace of the Holy Spirit and conveys it to every believing heart.

Baptism is our birth into a blessed and eternal life with God, our entry into church citizenship. Only by being baptized, a person can become a part of the Church, participate in its life, and proceed to the main sacrament of the Church – the Eucharist (the Holy Communion).

In Baptism, the Lord forgives men all previous sins, and thus makes them sin-free. A vivid example of the grace-filled transformation of a man after baptism was shown by our Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Volodymyr. He entered the baptismal font as one person, and left it completely different – as a new and enlightened man, who then led all our people to the Orthodox faith after him.

Most of us at different times – some in early childhood, some in adulthood – having been baptized, entered into this church citizenship. The Church loved us and took care of us all this time: she consoled, mentored, helped, and gave priceless gifts, such as Her Sacraments. We are all Her children.

Unfortunately, some have forgotten about it today. Guided by some political or self-serving interests, they betray their faith and their Church, encroach on Her shrines and Her ministers.

However, right now, when our Mother Church is going through the times of trial, we should remember who we are by the fact of our spiritual birth, who we are by our high calling. It is very important to remember this and be faithful, because the Church is not something external to us, the Church is God and we ourselves!

Dear friends!

May the Divine grace, which the Lord generously sends to the world on this day, strengthen us all in faith, hope and Christian love! And may the holy water from the Epiphany Day renew and sanctify our feelings, thoughts, intentions and actions. May it give us strength to overcome all the trials and difficulties encountered on our way, to transform our lives and the world around us. God is with us! Amen!
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