His Beatitude Sviatoslav: “UGCC preserved the old Kyivan tradition of celebrating the feast of Volodymyr’s Baptism

Friday, 26 July 2013, 19:20
The celebration of the Baptism of Rus-Ukraine unites all Christians in Ukraine, independent of the fact to which confession they belong,” stated the Head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) in an interview on Kyiv National Regional TV and Radio Station.

“The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church,” said His Beatitude Sviatoslav, “is the church of  Volodymyr’s Baptism and we preserve the ancient Kyivan tradition of celebrating this feast which comes from those ancient times and is passed as a treasure which we did not lose on the way.”

The root of this tradition, noted UGCC Head, lies in the fact that the ancient Kyiv Church celebrated the Baptism of Rus-Ukraine on August 14th.  “Christians of Ukraine, especially the Orthodox, said he, know well that on that day the Uspensky Fast begins and the so-called August- water-blessing is held.  That water blessing is exactly tied to the fact that the Kyiv church on that day marked the feast of its Baptism.”

Celebrating Baptism on the day of the feast of St. Volodymyr is a relatively recent tradition, reminded the Major Archbishop.  “ For the first time the Baptism of Rus-Ukraine or rather the Baptism of Rus in the Russian tradition,” he narrated, “was

held in Kyiv on the occasion of the 900th anniversary of the Baptism of Volodymyr.  In order to underline that it is Russian Orthodoxy which is the state religion of the Russian Empire, the celebration was elevated to an official state celebration and transferred to the day of the Feast of Prince Volodymyr – July 28th.

“We respect the tradition of our Orthodox brethren of the Moscow tradition,” noted the Primate, “but in our Church, the Greek-Catholic one, which was never connected with the center of Christianity which exists in Moscow, the ancient Kyivan tradition is preserved that we follow to this day.”

“However, to state that he picked Orthodoxy as the confession during the Baptism is inaccurate,” stated His beatitude Sviatoslav.  During the time of the Baptism of Prince volodymyr, Christianity was not split.  The division or schism between the Greektook place in 1054.  When Prince Volodymyr was baptized, Christ’s Church was united.

UGCC Head emphasized that the celebration of the baptism of Rus-Ukraine is very significant “from the point of view of the spiritual search of a person.”  “Every person,” he said, “searches for God.  That is, each one of us is involved in the searching for the beautiful, the eternal…  And it is exactly Prince Volodymyr who says to us today that he found that which he sought.  His road to the Baptism, to the Christian faith was not simple.  It was a road full of all kinds of doubts, searches. The baptism was a feast when Prince volodymyr shared with his people the joy that he had found what he looked for – found God who is Love.”

According to his Beatitude Sviatoslav, Volodymyr’s Baptism, a state act, done by a prince, became the garland of the Christianization of the whole country and people.  Yet, simultaneously, disregarding the fact that Christianity has existed in Ukraine for 1025 years, Ukraine, according to UGCC Primate also today needs Christianization since “the extremely aggressive atheism of the Soviet union times has left its mark on our people.”

“Many people in Ukraine keep searching for God, as it was during Volodymyr’s time,”  he said, “and have still not found him.  They expect the word of Christ’s not only to preserve that faith of Volodymyr Gospel.”  Depending on how completely ,believes His Beatitude Sviatoslav, the Churches in ukraine can respond to these human needs, depends our future.  “Today we have an enormous task preserve the faith of Volodymyr which we preserve as a true life-giving power of our people,” he enmphasized, “but Christians have the task to pass this faith to future generations.”not ony to

UGCC Department of Information

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