KYIV. Ambassadors of Orthodox countries pray during Divine Liturgy at Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra on day of Feast of Orthodoxy

On February 25, 2018, on the day of the Feast of Orthodoxy, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy of Kyiv and All Ukraine celebrated the Divine Liturgy and the Rite of the Feast of Orthodoxy in the church of Sts. Antoniy and Feodosiy of Pechersk (Refectory church) at Kyiv Pechersk Lavra.

Concelebrating with His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy were: the Superior of the Lavra His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshhorod and Chornobyl, UOC Administrator Metropolitan Antoniy of Boryspil and Brovary , Archbishop Panteleimon of Bucha, His Grace Bishop Victor of Baryshivka, Rector of the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary Bishop Sylvester of Bilhorod, Deputy Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC Archpriest Mykolay Danylevych and the clergy of the Lavra.

Taking part in the Solemn Church Services were Ambassadors and representatives of the embassies of countries, where the overwhelming majority of the population confesses the Orthodox faith: the Councillor and Head of the Political Section at the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Ukraine – Ms. Stoyana Rusinova, the Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to Ukraine, His Excellency Georgios Poukamissas and his wife, the Ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia to Ukraine – Stole Zmejkoski, Ambassador Republic of Moldova in Ukraine – Ruslan Bolbocean, Charge d’Affaires of the Russian Federation to Ukraine – O. P. Lukashik, Councillor and Head  of the Romanian Consular Department in Ukraine – Cosmin Ciprian Jurca, Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia in Ukraine – Rade Bulatovic.

During the Liturgy, fervent prayer was offered up for peace in Ukraine.

Upon completion of the Liturgy, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy addressed the diplomats with a speech of welcome, in which he particularly noted:

Today I am especially pleased to greet you all here within the walls of this holy church, the Ambassadors and representatives of the embassies of Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Moldova, Russia, Romania and Serbia”.

This year’s celebration of the Feast of Orthodoxy – is a feast for the Orthodox peoples of all our countries. Your presence here at today’s Divine Liturgy in this holy Lavra and our common prayer is a manifestation of the Sobornost’ of our Holy Orthodox Church, a testimony of our unity and confirmation that we all profess one faith. Even though our peoples may belong to different Local Orthodox Churches, together all of our Local Churches form a Single Church of Christ.

This year’s feast – is a feast of triumph for the Church. That’s how the name of this feast is known in Greek – Triumph of Orthodoxy! This is the feast of the Church’s victory over schism and heresies. On this day, we recall the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who promised that even the gates of Hades would not overcome His Church (cf. Matthew 16:18). And this means that, together with the apostle Paul, we can boldly say: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Experiencing these difficult times in our history today, we are grateful to you, your Excellencies, for your support and solidarity with our devout people. In my turn, on behalf of the clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, I prayfully wish all the Orthodox peoples the blessings of God, bounteousness, peace and prosperity!”

At the conclusion of church services, the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church met the highly honoured guests at his residence at Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. During His address to the foreign diplomats, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy made particular mention that:

We have gathered here today at the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra – which is the spiritual heart of our people –  in order to demonstrate our unity to the world ,especially during these days when each in his own way, is experiencing difficult times. Today it is very important for us to feel prayerful support and solidarity with our Orthodox brothers and sisters from the Orthodox countries. I am confident that such meetings will become traditional and that we will not only experience the difficult times together when we especially need God’s help and fraternal support but will also see times of peace, tranquility and prosperity, for which we will also jointly give thanks to the Lord“.

His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy asked the diplomats to convey sincere gratitude for their prayers and support to the Primates of the Orthodox Churches in their respective countries. At the conclusion of the audience, the much honoured guests were presented with memorable gifts.

Historical reference. On the first Sunday of Great Lent, the Orthodox Church celebrates the day of the Feast of Orthodoxy. This feast was established in the IX century in memory of the victory over iconoclasm and overcoming the heresies of the past centuries. Prior to the VIII century, the issue of the worship of icons was not violated, since it was an integral part of Christian practice from the beginning and was based on Sacred Scripture. However, over time, this practice began to be questioned, a new view attracted numerous supporters and received the support of the authorities. This gave rise to the struggle against the worship of icons, which lasted more than 100 years. During this time, the Church was under severe persecution and suffered even more than at the hands of the pagans, in defending the right to depict icons of the Saviour, His Blessed Mother and the Saints, and also the right to pray before them. The VII Ecumenical Council approved the worship of icons and condemned iconoclasm as a heresy. In 843, in memory of the victory of the Orthodox faith over iconoclasm, the Patriarch of Constantinople Methodius approved a special festive Divine service, which has since been celebrated every year on the first Sunday of Great Lent, which has come to be known as the Feast (Triumph) of Orthodoxy.

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