31 December 2023
On the eve of a New Year, all of us think about how we have lived the year that has passed and with what we have come to another landmark in our personal and our common history.
We, unfortunately, cannot change our past. We cannot foresee the future – it is in the power of the Lord alone. We can only manage the present day, the realities in which we live now. Today, we are going through very hard times, which are a consequence of a huge number of mistakes committed by politicians, the authorities, and ordinary citizens over a long period of time. Some wanted to tempt fate, some decided that they can throw down a challenge to history. And we all have to pay the price: both for the rash choice and for the tacit consent and for insufficient firmness in faith and for readiness to follow a wrong path in search of false goals.
Our disturbing, joyless ‘today’ is a result of those lies and hatred which have become the basis of politics in Ukraine. That very ‘today’ in which missiles are falling on peaceful cities, in which the authorities are building a real dictatorship in a once free country, in which the economy and demographics have been destroyed, in which the foundations of a true family are being ruined, in which an actual persecution of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and her hierarchs and clergy has been organised, in which sovereignty and independence have become an empty sound, in which traditions are forgotten, in which history is falsified, in which the birth rate is the lowest in the world, in which an absolutely insane war has already been going on for almost two years, which could simply have been avoided if the authorities had fulfilled the commitments they had undertaken.
So joyless is our ‘today’. The past is gone. We will never return to the country which existed before the war. The future, in turn, largely depends upon what lessons we learn from what we have lived through, including the war. I am sure that we are undergoing a process of purification, in particular through suffering and deliverance from illusions, from pride, from self-deception.
We are all called by the Creator to constantly improve ourselves and the world around us. And the trials which have fallen to our lot will only make us all stronger and purer. Troubles unite and give an opportunity to feel life, love, and responsibility much more acutely and broadly than in carefree times. Let our motivation for creative activity be fervent faith in the Lord, in our people, in the possibility of a better and more just world for our children. Let love for our land and for people living therein be the light that illuminates every new day. It is necessary to remember that all troubles and imperfections of this world can be healed by the love and warmth of human hearts. And such a change of the world is completely achievable for us because it pleases the Lord, and He will not leave us on this path. Saint Nikolaj (Velimirović) wrote: ‘Victory in the future war is conditioned by repentance. The people that will win is the one that, having been called to the war by the Providence of God, repents earlier than others and, having turned to God, rectifies its sins.’
I wish everyone in the new year to come to his senses, repent, return to a normal human state, remember the traditions and origins. To understand who is our friend and who is our enemy. I wish all of us the establishment of long-awaited Peace next year. May love return into our hearts. I wish all of us faith in the Lord, sincerity of prayers, strength of spirit, and patience!
The new year will be a year of serious decisions and great changes, the quality of which will depend upon whether we are able to correct ourselves.
I believe that peace will reign in our land.
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