Below is an unofficial translation for informational purposes only.
Thinking about how we will move together into the future, let us first ask the Lord God in prayer how He sees our Church today and tomorrow. I remember that after the start of the war in Donbas, I shared my experiences with Pope Francis, saying to him: “I ask the Lord: why did You resurrect us after the fall of the Soviet Union?! Why do You breathe the breath of the resurrected Savior, the breath of the Holy Spirit into the body of our Church, which was once dead and folded to the grave?!”. In response, the Holy Father said: “It is clear that you have a special mission in the Universal Church and in the modern world. The Lord has his plans for you!”.
Therefore, turning to the Lord God in prayer about our future, let us ask how He wants us to act at that time. Let us not build only human plans, but seek God’s will for us, Christians, for our Church in Ukraine and the world, for humanity, which is born and begins before our eyes. One day, when I was looking for an answer to this question, the words of Christ, which He addressed to His disciples before ascending to heaven, were spoken to my heart. This, naturally, was the strategy for the development of the Church, which the Savior left to his apostles. He said this: “Go… and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28, 19). It is an unchanging, eternal strategy—Christ’s will for his resurrected body, which is the Church of Christ in those times when we await His glorious second coming.
However, in order for us to correctly read the Divine strategy for our Church, I think it is important to once again listen to the voice of the Holy Father, who says that we can implement this strategy in the key of pastoral conversion. So let’s dream about our future, listening to the mission of the resurrected Christ and being guided by the Holy Spirit, who speaks to us through the successor of the Apostle Peter.
The first thing Christ says is “Go!”. According to Pope Francis, this is about the way of communication and building relationships between people. Pastoral conversion is necessary for the Church, as a missionary community, to go outside the church walls into the modern world, not to condemn it, but to save it in Christ.
We have to change the style, way of communication and joint action. I consider the most important in this new way of pastoral conversion to be this kind of movement — from seeking honours to healing the wounds of modern humanity. Because together with the revival of the Church, we sometimes bring back from the past certain ideas about the role and place of the Church, ideas about what they were once, before its destruction. Sometimes we subconsciously see in our role, in our way of church presence in society, the presence of “princes of the Church.” I think that in today’s world it is necessary to move away from such a position and move towards something else.
To “go” in the modern world means to get off the pedestals, not to seek honours and privileges, to descend from our imaginary heights of kings, princes, in order to serve modern man. This applies to bishops, priests, monks and nuns, and members of various church movements and lay communities. We need to get off our pedestals to approach the wounds of modern man, which are often filled with pain, blood, and pus. We must wash and cleanse these wounds.
Then Christ tells us to teach! What does it mean today? Teaching does not mean commanding by force of power, teaching in a mentoring tone how everyone else should live, reprimanding those who do not live the way we would like.
We must, I repeat, get off the pedestal of a mentor, a punisher, a strict teacher with a pointer in his hands and stand next to modern people as those who teach by their own example, convince by the power of personal testimony, do not force with power, but captivate with personal faith, the position of Christ’s disciple. Only in this way can we teach and make disciples of others, give them the way of being a disciple that characterizes Christ’s successors, followers and members of the Church.
Now about our next step. Jesus Christ says: “Go… and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” In modern society, a false perception of the Church as a community providing social services, which must provide all the needs of the social sphere of a person, which are not provided by the state, or as a certain cultural and intellectual institution, has been formed. Instead, the Church of Christ is a Mystical Body. Christ sends us to teach, not so that people know more, but to baptize them. The Church, as a Mystical Body, the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, cannot but administer the Holy Sacraments. We have something to wash and heal human wounds, which are inflicted by sin and from which flow streams of blood and pus. These medicines are the Sacraments of Christ’s Church.
Even in the conditions of a pandemic, we must not neglect to Baptize, for it is necessary to give birth in the Sacrament of Baptism to new members of the Church. We must not neglect Chrismation, so as to neglect the gift of Pentecost. We cannot fail to celebrate the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, especially when our people ask for Holy Communion, because most of their Eucharistic life must be lived online. We cannot but pour out the healing power of God’s mercy in Confession on modern man. We cannot but ordain and consecrate bishops, priests and deacons. We cannot but marry new couples. We cannot but anoint in Holy Unction those who suffer from serious ailments. We cannot but give the Holy Sacraments!
Finally, we must go through a certain conversion from the idea that the Church is a kind of financial corporation that seeks earthly means for its existence, meeting its needs, and plans its spending activities based on them. Such thinking is completely foreign to the Church, which does not have its own lobbying interests. The Church is a community of solidarity in which all its members are called to share their gifts. The Church is a community that the Lord God constantly enriches, constantly gives it something new, sends them new people with new talents, skills, visions… The greatest wealth of our Church is people! And everyone who comes to the Church community has the task of giving all their talents to the service of the wider community, because only in this way will they be able to develop and multiply them.
In the Gospel, we have such a moment when Christ tells the disciples to feed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, not counting women and children (cf. Mt. 14, 14-21). The Disciples doubt that they are able to do it. However, Jesus blesses this food and His blessing becomes a moment of multiplication. We also constantly feel that our needs are greater than our capabilities. But the Lord multiplies our possibilities with his heavenly blessing.
Therefore, our strategy is to go forward together to teach all the peoples and cultures in which we live, with which we communicate and have to share the wealth of our Kyivan spiritual liturgical heritage as a united global Particular Church. We must make disciples of all nations, giving them the Sacraments of Christ’s Church, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then the Lord God will bless our Church and, acting through us, the whole modern world.