President Yushchenko’s speech during the pilgrimage to Zarvanytsya

Thursday, 30 July 2009, 11:22
It is a great honor to be here today, in the presence of the miraculous icon of Zarvanytsya’s Mother of God. I come here as a Christian before my Christian brothers and as a Ukrainian before my Ukrainian brothers.

Your Beatitude,
Your Eminences, 
Reverend Fathers,
Respected community,
Glory to Jesus Christ!

It is a great honor to be here today, in the presence of the miraculous icon of Zarvanytsya’s Mother of God. I come here as a Christian before my Christian brothers and as a Ukrainian before my Ukrainian brothers. I cannot help but think about our glorious, yet difficult, Ukrainian path to church, the path to our common church, common yet highly individual for everyone. There are strong oppositional forces that stand in the way of our Ukrainian path. Our nation has survived big challenges because of our collective strength, the source of which is deep, pure and radiant faith. My heart sees before itself the image of a monk, the image of man who, here in Zarvanytsya, was comforted by a hope emanating from the Mother of God.  For our bright nation, this is an important image.  For us, Zarvanytsya is both a deep spring and a river. As a spring, it passes through layers of earth and time, beginning in the time of Kyivan Rus’. As a river, it creates the large Ukrainian sea of love for the Mother of God, uniting together with all the main places of pilgrimages in Ukraine. It embodies the special connection between Ukraine and the celestial. It determines the essence and mission of our nation. The challenges, which we have overcome, were presented to us because we are a strong nation. At the same time, the heavy truth is that we carry the responsibility for our own survival and our own fate, which was besought with injustice, envy amongst brothers, insincerity, and ignorance. We were saved many times. However, one important conclusion can be drawn from our experiences: our individual spiritual strength is inseparable from a greater national force. Born on and tied to this land, we are capable of good deeds, as long as we choose to take the high road in life. This entails realizing that we are a large, indivisible nation – unchangeable, incorruptible, wisely accepting of diversity, not creating idols and embracing responsibilities. I trust that, in this awareness, there is a large force for purifying and for forgiveness for each of us. I ask for this in my own prayers here in Zarvanytsya. Just like a prayer, this faith is a large pre-condition for the miraculous protection of Ukraine by the Divine Mother. “Patriotism and caring for the general wellbeing of your nation has always been considered a God given responsibility,” claimed Patriarch and Cardinal Joseph Slipyj, born on this land. On September 4, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of his holy memory. Today, it is with a special honor that I express reverence for the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, its hierarchies, clergy, and all of its faithful.  Even during the darkest times, the Church supported our nation and continues to carry out this mission today. This year, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church coming out of the underground, as one of the primary forces for the liberation of Ukraine. The state is obliged to recognize, and honestly evaluate, the historical repression the UGCC suffered along with other Ukrainian churches. I also want to express my deepest respect for, and gratitude to, the Head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, who with a deep faith and wisdom takes care of the spiritual health of our nation and continues the traditions of Metropolitan Andrey and Patriarch Joseph Slipyj.  I welcome all the pilgrims who came to Zarvanytsya today, and thank the people of this area and to all of Western Ukraine for safeguarding our national and cathedral spirit. Now is the time for faith in our own strength. Ukraine will become a strong national country. A unified Orthodox Sui Juris Church will appear in Ukraine. Ukraine will join the rest of Europe. It is truly a historical process.  Let’s be strong. Let’s be a nation.  Let’s heed the words of wisdom spoken by the Universal Patriarch Varpholomey in our capital, Kyiv, “Your country is divided by religious and societal leaders... But it is most important that you always follow Christ - with faith, piety and love.” This sentiment corresponds with words spoken by a great Polish and Ukrainian – His Holiness Pope John Paul II: “Although you are in pain from unhealed wounds... you must, Ukrainian nation, look forward to the future with hope. It is a favorable time! It is a time of hope and courage!”  Before us is truly a great time. Let’s listen to our hearts. Let’s be with God. Believe in our own strengths and our purpose.  In this holy place, I pray, together with you, to the Lord and to the Mother of God to bless Ukraine and the entire Ukrainian nation - to send us happiness, peace and blessings.  Glory to Jesus to Christ!  Glory to Ukraine!
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