Words of Bishop Bohdan (Dzyurakh) during the Panakhyda memorial service for the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred addressed to the participants of Taize meeting in Kyiv

Friday, 17 April 2015, 16:05
Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti), 16 April 2015

Dear Br. Alois, dear brothers of the Taize community, dear young people from different countries of Europe, dear brothers and sisters! Christ is risen! – Indeed he is risen!

Thank you very much all of you for your presence and especially for your prayer here on this special place soaked with the blood of the heroes of the Heavenly Hundred.

The revolution of dignity will become a part of history of our people as a unique event not only from the point of view of its duration and big attendance – hundreds of thousands of people for a few consecutive months amidst very severe weather conditions have been on a peaceful protest to prevent the country from the abyss of the dictatorship and to defend one’s own freedoms and dignity as well as freedom and dignity of our country. The Revolution of Dignity is also a unique event because it was in its nature a spiritual phenomenon supported by constant prayers. Almost all Christian Churches and religious organizations of Ukraine have been represented by their faithful and clergy on the Maidan. All the Churches have supported the activists of the Maidan with their prayers and spiritual guidance. During the most dramatic moments priests formed a lively shield between the protesters and the armed forces to prevent the bloodshed and violence against peaceful citizens. Here on the Maidan during the Revolution of Dignity over a million of rosaries have been distributed. Later on the participants of these events would confess: “We have learnt how to pray during the Maidan”.

It was a prayer that helped us to withstand and defend our future during these difficult times. And it is a prayer now that gives us strength and support in the conditions of the undeclared hybrid war perpetrated against Ukraine. A year ago we prayed for dignity and freedom of our people; now we invoke our prayers for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country and for peace in Ukraine.

The founder of the Taize community, Brother Roger, understood really well the importance of the prayer for peace. He started his life journey and lived his young years in the period between the wars when people were shocked by the atrocities of the WWI and begged that this evil would never be repeated. When he became 24 years old, WWII broke out. Having experienced himself all the drama of that war, Brother Roger highlighted the prayer for peace as one of the main tasks of the spiritual movement he has founded. But he not only prayed for peace, he was a peacemaker himself, he brought about peace through his solidarity with all those suffering from the hard times of the war: during the war he gave shelter to the refugees in his house in Taize, after the war he sheltered the war prisoners and later on welcomed children and young people from all over Europe. It is noteworthy that his last letter that he was preparing for European youth meeting in Lisbon has a very eloquent name “And the peace shall reign”. These words acquire special importance especially now in the context of the war that is going on in Eastern Ukraine! In these words we hear an appeal for prayer for peace in Europe destroyed nowadays by the aggression against Ukraine. At the same time these words resound steadfast belief that like the Risen Christ who brought peace to his disciples, so after the Good Friday that our people is going through right now, the Lord will for sure grant us all his lasting peace.

Many people in Ukraine during this war unleashed by our northern neighbor in Eastern Ukraine expect support on behalf of the international community on different levels: political, economic, military, viewing  especially military help as the last and probably the only resort to stop the aggressor. But we, as people believing in God, would like to ask you here present for two things: first of all, be the witnesses of truth about the events in Ukraine! Because it is well known that the first victim of war is always truth. But the necessary step towards acquiring peace is loyalty to truth. And that means having courage to call things by their proper names, because we don’t have in Ukraine neither “internal crisis” nor “civil war”, as the propaganda of the aggressor is trying to convince people also in Western Europe. Ukraine became an object of a perfidious attack from a foreign country and now is withholding the danger that threatens the whole Europe at high cost of incredible sacrifice.

And second request – please keep on praying for peace in Ukraine! Because war and likewise peace rise in the human heart. I am convinced that by our common prayers we will be able to obtain from our Lord the change of human hearts seized by aggression and hatred. Your presence in Ukraine and your prayer is a sign of hope for us that also on our land there will be fulfilled the words of Brother Roger: “And the peace shall reign!”

In order not to forget about this request of ours, please accept these simple white rosaries which were distributed a year ago on the Maidan during the Revolution of Dignity. Let them be for you a sign of spiritual closeness to all those who are suffering from war in Ukraine and at the same time a reminder of the power and successfulness of the common prayer for peace.

May the Risen Savior who brought to his disciples peace will grant all of us his peace and his blessing! Christ is Risen! – Indeed he is risen!