Translated by Rev. Myroslaw Tataryn
First printing 1984
To My spiritual Children, Bishops, Priests, Monastics and all the faithful
of the Ukrainian Catholic Church
THE LORD’S PEACE AND MY ARCHPRIESTLY BLESSING!
“A little while now and the world will see me no more” (Jn. 14:19), “Within a short time you will lose sight of me…” (Jn. 16:16), for “the time is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in parables …” (Jn. 16:25) Departing this world and as our ancestors used to say “sitting on a sleigh”, after over 90 years of life, I pray for you, my spiritual flock, and for all our Ukrainian people whose son I am and whom I endeavored to serve. I pray for you in the words of Christ’s farewell discourse – the Archpriestly prayer of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. For He is for us and for the entire world: “the way, … the truth, … and the life.” (Jn. 14:6) And therefore moving on to the world of eternity, I beg Our Heavenly Father to glorify His Son in you, so that you may recognize Him “the only true God” and the “one whom He has sent – Jesus Christ” (Jn. 17:3) and that He may grant you “another Paraclete – to be with you always: the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot accept, since it neither sees him nor recognizes him because he remains with you and will be within you.” (Jn. 14:16-17)
Together with this prayer, I say good-bye to the world and to all of you, my dear Spiritual Children, and as the Holy Christian faith of our ancestors requires, I leave you my Paternal and Pastoral Testament! “I have told all this to keep your faith from being shaken” (Jn. 16:1) and “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God …” (Jn. 14:1). And above all else I bequeath you: “Love one another …” (Jn. 15:12,17), “there is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn. 15:13)
This love for Christ: this love for the Holy Church which is His Mystical Body; this love for our beloved Ukrainian Church, which is an integral part of the Universal Christian Family; this love for our beloved Ukrainian people with their spiritual and material wealth of universal significance, this love marked my life’s toil, my thought and my work in freedom and while imprisoned. Throughout my life I was, and as such I now depart this world – as a prisoner of Christ! Initially, as a young man, I was His voluntary prisoner! This was a result of being born into and raised by an Ukrainian, Christian and deeply believing rural family. This family gave me and was able to graft in me a faith in Christ and love for Him! Therefore today as I come closer to them in the other world “where there is no pain, no suffering, just life everlasting” I raise up a son’s prayer of thanksgiving! Parents and a Christian family, these are the basis of a healthy society, of a people and of a nation. They are the guarantor of growth and of strength! And therefore I bequeath you: Maintain, and where it is destabilized, renew among the Ukrainian people the true Christian family as the eternal flame and health of the Church and the people!
I was also a voluntary prisoner of Christ when my love for Him pushed me on the path of searching for learning and dedicating 2myself to academic work. I am thankful to God’s Wisdom that he lit this spark in my childhood and I thank my older brother Roman, for he began teaching me as a five year old – and so when I first went to school I could already read and write. Entering elementary school, therefore, the spark became a burning fire of love for learning. Out of love for learning I therefore remained a prisoner of Christ, until I recognized the call to the priesthood, at which time I decided to serve Christ. The Christian family and our own Ukrainian schools – these are the foundations of the healthy education of future generations! Therefore I bequeath to you: Renew them and save them in Ukraine and in all the countries where our Ukrainian people have settled! In the vocation to serve Christ as a cleric I clearly see God’s hand. Having heard the Lord’s voice and being sustained by the Lord’s Right Hand, I rejoiced in being able to serve Him in the best decades of my life. I served Him as a voluntary prisoner, being His servant as a scholar, and as a theologian of that greatest of revealed Mysteries the Trinitarian life of God and specifically the Third Person of the most Holy Trinity – the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter and the Giver of Life, who fulfills everything and who dwells unseen, in us and in Christ’s Church. [paraphrase of the prayer, “Heavenly King”] Inspired by His grace I served our beloved Church in the capacities assigned to me by the Head and Father of our Church, the Servant of God, Metropolitan Andrei – as professor and rector of the Theological Academy and Seminary and finally as the founder of the Ukrainian Catholic University here in Rome …
As the one who became a voluntary prisoner of Christ I served the once glorious world of Ukrainian theological thought; I tried to raise it up from ruin, to renew it in the knowledge that Learning is one of the foundation stones of the renewal and strength of a people; that theological learning is an evangelical command of Christ: “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations …”(Mt. 28:19) Learning is a pillar of the Church among our people; for through its educational institutions it has become the educator of the people; and through learning “the individual becomes richer, all the more understanding that idea which contains heaven and earth, time and eternity, history and the present, the heart and the mind …” [address at the opening of the Theological Academy in Lviv Oct. 6, 1929] Reflecting therefore upon the meaning and value of learning, in the face of that eternity which approaches me undeterred, I bequeath you: Love learning; develop and enrich it with your work and your knowledge – be its servants! Raise temples of learning, burning with the spiritual strength of our Church and our people. Remember that the fullness of life in the Church and in our people is not possible without our own indigenous scholarship. Learning is their breath of life!
In 1939 our Church’s new “Way of the Cross” began, and the great Saint and Genius, the Servant of God Metropolitan Andrei called upon me to be the Exarch of Eastern Ukraine in October and then in December of the same year in my episcopal consecration named me his successor. I accepted this calling as the secret call of our Lord, in Christ’s words, to “Come, follow me …” (Jn. 1:44) I immediately understood what it meant to “follow Christ”, in the trying and turbulent times which came upon our Church. For it was Christ who warned us: “If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross and follow in my steps” (Mk. 8:34b). The vocation of the shepherd 3is that of self-denial, to take upon one’s shoulders the Cross and to follow Christ out of one’s love for Him; for He also said: “Whoever disowns me before men I will disown before my Father in heaven.” (Mt. 10:33) So began my way along the path of thorns. It truly became a life which reflected my episcopal coat of arms: Per aspera ad astra. Before me, the successor of the Servant of God Metropolitan Andrei and the beneficiary of his spiritual legacy, lay the long road of self-denial, the cross and witnessing Christ “before man”, “to this faithless and corrupt age” (Mk. 8:38).
On this road I was aided by God’s great Right Hand. With His aid I, a prisoner for Christ’s sake, witnessed to him as He had told His disciples and followers: “be my witnesses in Jerusalem and throughout Judea and Samaria, yes even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). But on the sign posts of my life there were other names: not Jerusalem, Judea or Samaria, but rather Lviv, Siberia, Krasniarsk, Yenyseisk, Mordovia …, and literally “… to the ends of the earth”. Arrest by night, secret trials, endless interrogations, searches, moral and physical torment and humiliation, beatings, and murder by starvation; impure and dishonest prosecutors and judges; and before them I stand, a defenseless prisoner and convict, “a mute witness of the Church”, who weakened and physically and psychologically emaciated, gave witness of his silent and “condemned to death” beloved Church … And this prisoner-convict saw that his path “to the ends of the earth ended in a death sentence!” I gained strength on this path of a prisoner for Christ only in the thought that I was accompanied by my spiritual flock, my beloved Ukrainian people, all the bishops, priests, faithful, fathers and mothers, infants, self-sacrificing youth, and helpless elderly. I was not alone! Supernatural endurance and a mysterious strength was given me by those words engraved deep upon my soul, the words of Christ’s evangelical mission: “What I am doing is sending you out like sheep among wolves. You must be clever as snakes and innocent as doves. Be on your guard with respect to others. They will hale you into court, they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings, to give witness before them and before the Gentiles on my account. When they hand you over, do not worry about what you will say or how you will say it. When the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. You yourselves will not be the speakers; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will turn against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all on account of me. But whoever holds out to the end will escape death. …” (Mt. 10: 16-22)
As never before the secret of Christ’s words was opened to me: “And you will be my witnesses …” (Acts 1:9). To be Christ’s witness: this meant to acknowledge Him before people (Lk. 12:8); not to deny Him; to carry our Cross; to suffer for Christ and with Christ; to be prepared for torment and even to give one’s life for one’s neighbor; not fearing those who can “kill the body” (Lk. 12:4); remembering that “Whoever would preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will preserve it. What profit does a man show who gains the whole world and destroys himself in the process?” (Mk. 8:35-36) Today I thank God for having given me the grace of being a witness to and confessor of Christ, just as He called us to be in His Gospel! From the depths of my soul I thank the Lord God for having given me the strength not to have shamed my land, nor the good name of my Church, nor myself, her humble servant and shepherd …
And today, “sitting on my sleigh, reflecting in my soul and giving glory to God, who has brought me to this day …, I sit on my sleigh prepared for the road into the distance, and with an exhausted voice I pray” [Prince Volodymyr Monomakh’s Testament to my Children] and bequeath to you my spiritual flock: “Be witnesses” to Christ in Ukraine and in the lands of your voluntary and involuntary settlement; in all the lands where you dwell; in prisons, in dungeons and in concentration camps; to the ends of the earth and to the last moments of your earthly lives! Be witnesses on every continent of our poor planet! Do not put to shame our Ukrainian land – the land of our ancestors! Maintain in your souls pure and undefiled the name of Your Holy Church! Do not put to shame your Ukrainian heritage – as Christ said: “What I just did was to give you an example: as I have done, so you must do … Amen, amen I say to you no slave is greater than his master … Blest will you be if you put these things into practice”. (Jn. 13:15-17)
In evangelical words and images, as if in parables, I described my life, the life of a witness, a prisoner, a confessor who arrived at the “end of the world” and at the end of his life, face to face with death, in Mordovia, in an unbearable climate, in the worst death camp – where the end of my life was very close. But the Most Merciful and All-Powerful Providence of God wished otherwise! Against all hope, I was proclaimed free! Who and how this came to be will be told by the historians of our Church’s road of martyrdom. Whether this was a result of the Second Vatican Council and the voice there of our bishops, or whether this was the product of the efforts of our Ukrainian and foreign friends in the academic world who came to my aid, or whether perhaps could this have been a temporary sobering of those who wielded power at that time – God knows! All however were but agents of God’s Unknowable Wisdom! But among them all, the most influential must have been the efforts of Pope John XXIII of blessed memory – for he was truly the incarnation of goodness, humanity and Christian love. Out of my deep gratitude I humbly pray to the Lord for his glorification among the saints!
Although I was free, freedom was not granted to my beloved Church! As a result my immediate response was to remain in our homeland and to further carry with my Church that great Cross which she bore. As I wrote from the isolation chamber in the Kyiv prison “I do not feel, even in my deepest person, that I should leave the Soviet Union, but rather I just wish to gain for our Greek-Catholic Church those rights which it had in the USSR until 1946, those rights which the constitution guarantees but today are recklessly trampled upon! … I openly admit that I have no intention of leaving, unless it is under a forced escort, as a mute witness of the Church”. [Letter from Isolation in Kyiv, Korolinko 33 – February 14, 1961]
However, the voice of Pope John XXIII of blessed memory called me to the Vatican Council. His call was an order – for in it I saw the incomprehensible intention of God’s Wisdom. Was this not a call to give living witness to the fate of our Church? Was this not a call to complete that which I could not complete as a prisoner? And so began a new and further road in my life along which I have been pilgrimaging for the past twenty years. And this road, as soon became evident was not a road along which shone “astra” – bright stars. Rather it continued to be a road of a prisoner for Christ, this time however, a prisoner with fictitious freedom. … Hoping for a swift return to my spiritual flock after the Vatican Council and having done all that was demanded of me by my archpastoral obligation for the maintenance of apostolic descent in the Ukrainian Church, I arrived physically exhausted but spiritually undefeated in the Petrine capital …
My arrival in Rome, as well as my unhoped-for release, and the first weeks and months of my freedom spent firstly in the ancient Basilian Greek Monastery at Grotaferrata and then in the Vatican, were marked by unreadable signs. This was best captured in a speech given at the Consecration of St. Sophia Sobor on 28 September 1969, by the President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Giulio Andreotti: “If the stars were in proportion to the thorns which marked your life as a priest and Major Archbishop, then we would with certainty be able to foretell the discovery of galaxies as yet unknown and unimagined. Wisdom (our successors will decide whether it was in fact wisdom or not) wanted that all the events surrounding your release unfold here before the Catholics of Rome in silence. It is truly a strange world! In this world we fear to respect those who are persecuted, feeling that perhaps we will only cause the persecutor to be more vicious with those who are left behind. And yet had we known all, we would have welcomed you with such joy, just as the Christians of Rome welcomed St. Peter when he was released from prison. For you were as St. Peter, who had that stark awareness of God’s hand in everything and of the presence of the angels, and who later established you here, as a permanent sign to all …”
Giulio Andreotti continued: “In 1948, Your Eminence, a book was published … about the fate of Christians in the Soviet Union. In this book on page 282 we read: on April 11, 1945 a number of bishops were arrested. Metropolitan Slipyj, who is widely reported to have passed away, has according to recent reports been maintained among the living. This world of ours, which was bold enough to accuse Pius XII of not having known early enough what was going on in the death camps, this same world after the end of the war in 1948 could not tell us whether Your Eminence was among the living or dead. It is most fortunate, that you are the ‘dead’ who speaks, but more so, who creates …”
On the road from Vienna to Rome my spiritual pain gave me no rest as I thought about our Church and our People. All her achievements, the work of generations over the thousand years of Christianity, all lay in ruin. I accepted this as the will of God in the deep faith that all historical moments, even those of suffering, are not meaningless. I believed that from the ruin our Church and our People would arise! With all my strength I tried to find a way out of what seemed a hopeless situation. I endeavored to raise our Church and People out of ruin, in order that they may be reborn. It was necessary that work begin from the very roots, from the very beginning. And the beginnings were scholarship, prayer, work, and Christian righteousness. As a silent and once more voluntary prisoner for Christ, I rejoiced that with God’s help and thanks to the generosity of the people of God, especially the laity, I was able to establish the Ukrainian Catholic University – a center of learning; the Sobor of Saint Sophia – a sign and symbol of God’s indestructible temple here on earth; the place of prayer, the Studite monastery – an eternally burning flame of Christian righteousness and Eastern Christian monasticism! Now looking upon these centers, these signs and symbols, I once more bequeath to you: Atheism is now the official doctrine in Ukraine and in all the countries of the communist world. Therefore, save the Ukrainian Catholic University, for it is a workshop in which are educated new generations of priests and lay ministers: fighters for truth and learning!
May the Ukrainian Catholic University, with its many branches throughout the world, be for you a sign and an encouragement for new research and scholarly work! Remember that when a people forget or lose their knowledge of their past with its spiritual treasures they die, disappear from the face of the earth. Indigenous scholarship raises a people to flight to the heights of the universe, among other mature peoples! And when you gaze upon the Sobor of Saint Sophia, when you make pilgrimages there as to your native Holy Place, and when you raise your voice in prayer within its walls, remember that this Sobor I leave you as a sign and symbol of those destroyed and defiled Ukrainian Churches – our ancestral witnesses of Christian faith – the Sobor of Saint Sophia in Kyiv and Saint George’s in Lviv! May this Saint Sophia built for you as a sign of rebirth, also become a sign of encouragement for you to build new churches in Ukraine and in the countries of your settlement! But above all, may Saint Sophia be for you a signpost and witness of the Church of Living Ukrainians, a holy place of prayer and liturgical sacrifice for the dead, the living and the yet unborn! I beseech our God that He preserve the Church of Future Ukrainian Generations!
In initiating the renewal of Eastern Christian spirituality, the Servant of God Andrei set the foundation for the renewal and growth of the monastic life according to the rule of St. Theodore the Studite. The person who worked tirelessly in this field was his brother, Ihumen Klymenty of blessed memory, a suffering but humble confessor of the faith. It was from them, the two God-loving brothers, that I accepted a clear heritage and their final request: to save the Brotherhood of Studite Monks. The Lord God helped fulfil their wishes: in Ukraine, notwithstanding constant repression, the Studite brotherhood has grown; and in the Albano Hills (near Rome) was born a new Studite Lavra with an Archimandrite at their head. And in other countries we can see new fires of Studite monasticism. The Studite Lavra and its daughter monasteries will gather together those who reject life in the world for love of Christ and His Church. The Studites will gather together those who wish to serve the world by rejecting the world; those who wish to serve through dedication and prayer. They will go to serve, not as selfish persons or as those who are too weak and must flee the world; but rather they will go as tireless workers and men of prayer for the world, for their Church and for their people…
On the islands of monastic life all those who come together become preservers and creators of our Ukrainian Christian spirituality, which reveals itself through the Divine Liturgy, through ritual purity, in Eastern Christian theological thought and in the very monastic life based on the ancient Eastern Christian monastic practices. They also suffer with those who do battle against the evil of the world; they become examples for spiritual vocations to service in the Church. The Servant of God Andrei’s wish and my request is that all our monastics (whose concern and work for the good of souls no one can deny) strive among each other not for influence or power, nor to be popular, but rather that they compete in their growth in holiness and in the service of Christ and our Ukrainian Church. I therefore beseech all our monastics: Do not be ashamed of our heritage; value our spiritual legacy! Regardless of how great a risk it is, it does not deserve to be disregarded! “Do not give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before swine. They will trample them under foot, at best, and perhaps even tear you to shreds”. (Mt. 7:6) May our spiritual heritage enter your souls and enflame your hearts so that you may preserve and cultivate it! Through this heritage may you be sanctified by the grace and gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Second Vatican Council was underway when I arrived in Rome. As in earlier cases, beginning with the First Apostolic Council in Jerusalem, the Council is the assembly of the leading shepherds of Christ’s Church who give witness to the faith and life of those under their pastoral care the Fathers of the Council are witnesses before the Church and before the whole world. Aware of the significance of this witness, in my words to the Fathers of the Council on October 11, 1963 I spoke not of my story – it was well known, but rather about the witness of our Ukrainian Church: its witness of faith in Christ and in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, a witness supported by fearless confessors, martyrs and other sacrifices. In order to express my gratitude and recognition, but in particular my support of those who continued to suffer, I proposed and requested: that the Kyiv-Halych and All Rus’ Metropolia be raised to Patriarchal dignity. For the first time in the history of our Church the idea of a Patriarchate was publicly raised at such a prestigious forum as an Ecumenical Council – although the idea of Patriarchate itself was not new. In fact although Kyivan Metropolitans did not possess the title of Patriarch they did in fact have jurisdiction over their Church equal to those of a Patriarch. They were well aware of the fact that the Patriarchate of the Church would be a visible sign of the maturity and autonomy of a Particular Church and further, it would be an important element in ecclesiastical and national unity. It is not unusual then that such great figures from our history as Metropolitan Peter Mohyla and Metropolitan Josyf Benjamin Rutsky, in the worst periods of our ecclesiastical decline and disunity, did all they could to save our Church from ruin and to re-establish unity on the firm basis of a Patriarchate of Kyiv and all Rus’.
The significance of the Patriarchate was not lost upon the leaders of the young Ukrainian State in the revolutionary years 1917-1920 when they expressed their desire to see in [sic] the just released (from imprisonment by Tsarist Russia) Metropolitan Andrei the first Patriarch of Kyiv-Halych and all Rus’. Clear proof of this wish can be seen in the Constitution of the Ukrainian Republic signed in the year 1920, which although never brought into effect, clearly witnessed the insuppressible idea of a Patriarchate for our Church. As the history of our Christian Church in Eastern Europe clearly shows, a Kyivan Patriarchate would save our ecclesiastical unity within the Universal Church and it would become the savior of our Ukrainian Church and State. It is now clear that it was an act of historical short-sightedness on the part of the Roman Apostolic See to ignore the great idea of Metropolitans Mohyla and Rutsky. Citing political reasons for their inability to recognize a Patriarchy for our Church, the Vatican disregarded valuable historical and ecclesiastical reasons for formally accepting a united Patriarchal Church in Ukraine. Although such motivations are not “divine”, but rather very human, they are repeated and serve as the justification for the rejection of our attempts to have the Patriarchal rights of our Church guaranteed, even today.
To our ancient Ukrainian concept of Truth, wherein Veracity and Justice are one, such “human” motives are very foreign. As a faithful son of the Catholic Church I call upon the decisions of the Vatican Council in the question of the creation or birth of Patriarchates. As a member of the “Papal Family”, seeing that Pope John XXIII of blessed memory named me a Cardinal “in pectore” and on his death bed wished to make this public, which was subsequently done by Pope Paul VI on January 25, 1965, I, on a number of occasions, requested the formal. Until it can be compared to the Ukrainian original, the sense of “see in” seems to be “welcome back eagerly”. I brought to His Holiness’ attention that in the Eastern Churches neither the Ecumenical Councils nor the Pope created Patriarchates for the various promising Churches. Rather the Patriarchate arose as a result of the natural process of maturation of the Christian flock, in all its integral parts, in the consciousness of its clerics as well as laity – the laity usually in fact playing a crucial role in this process. For only a mature Christian consciousness of the great treasures of the particular ecclesiastical and national traditions, the historical and cultural experiences, the efforts and sacrifices which became a part of the Universal Church – only such a consciousness could create a firm foundation upon which the Patriarchate could stand! I have continually contended that the Church of the Kyivan-Halych Metropolia has given enough witness of such a maturity throughout its entire history. Why should Kyiv, the cradle of Christianity in Eastern Europe, not be crowned by a Patriarchate? With utter humility and with patience I clearly informed His Holiness Pope Paul VI of blessed memory, “If you do not recognize it, your successor will do so …
For the very fact that our Ukrainian Church exists means that we cannot renounce our Patriarchy!” And I beg of you, my Beloved Children: Never reject the Patriarchate of your Suffering Church – for you are its living children! I strengthen my appeal with a reference to my “Profound Declaration” written by my own hand in 1975: “God created humanity and the family. He is also the creator of generations, tribes and nations. The love and affection which every human being feels for their family is also owed to their people and nation. Patriotism and a concern for the welfare of the nation have always been seen as God-given obligations. The good of the nation must at times be defended against enemies and even against internal forces which for various reasons could lead to the demise of the nation. That very same principle applies to the church – that is to say that there exists a God-given obligation to care for her welfare and to defend her rights against those who may aim to do her harm. Our forefathers strove over the past millennium to maintain our ties with the Apostolic See, and in 1596 they strengthened this bond with an act of union, under conditions which the Roman popes promised to keep. Throughout the past 400 years this unity has been witnessed to by the blood of many martyrs. Our age is also among those during which our people have died as martyrs in the defense of the Sacred Unity of the Church.” “The Apostolic Roman See, under the influence and power of the functionaries of the Roman Curia, perhaps even with good intentions, chose the political course in 1970, a course which struck a great blow to our Church in Ukraine and an even greater one against our Church in the free world. The entire Christian world is a witness to the fact that our constant warnings and our humble arguments which were passed on to His Holiness Pope Paul VI have been ignored.”
Therefore, today, when we have seen the secret documentation concerning contacts between the Roman See and the Patriarch of Moscow, these documents which are, if you will, a death sentence for our Ukrainian Church as well as a great blow to the universal Christian Church headed by the successor to the Apostle St. Peter – I once more beseech, tell and bequeath to you, my spiritual flock: “Brethren, live as children of light … Take no part in vain deeds done in darkness; rather, condemn them. It is shameful even to mention the things these people do in secret …”(Eph. 5:8-11) To the uncaring and the apathetic I call: “Awake, O sleeper, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” (Eph. 5:14) Again and again I beseech you: “You are the very seal of my apostolate in the Lord” ( I Cor. 9:2), “… Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, and act like men …” (I Cor. 16:13), because although “We are afflicted in every way possible, but we are not crushed; full of doubts we never despair. We are persecuted but never abandoned; we are struck down but never destroyed.” (II Cor. 4:8 9)
“We stand without the possibility of return upon the road to the establishment of a Patriarchate for our Church”, I said in my closing remarks at the Synod in 1969. [Blahovisnyk, vol. 1-4, 1969, p. 120] You, My dear Brothers and Sisters, understood my words and as good children of our Church you began to pray for your Patriarch, both alone and during the Divine Liturgy. With this prayer you expressed your mature Christian consciousness, because in the first instance prayer is an expression of total trust in the Lord’s assistance and faith in the power of the Almighty Lord to achieve that for which we incessantly pray. Did not Christ tell us to ask and to pray? Did He not promise to grant that for which we faithfully prayed? He did say after all: “Ask, and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock, and it will be open to you.” (Mt. 7:8)
Prayer, especially liturgical prayer also has a further significance: through it the believer expresses faith in the revealed mysteries of faith and a deep understanding of the meaning of the Church of Christ, and of their own particular Church. Our particular Church is further recognized as possessing its own immensely valuable heritage which is expressed in the rites, the liturgies, the form of government, and the tradition of spirituality. Liturgical prayer becomes the forerunner of the formulations of doctrine, as was seen in the Creeds of earlier centuries. Liturgical prayer also forms the foundation out of which evolve the canonical norms which govern the Church itself. I am therefore immensely grateful that you have been praying for “His Beatitude the Patriarch of Kyiv-Halych and all Rus’ ” in your churches as we did in 1975 on the tomb of St. Peter himself. By this prayer you have shown your mature Christian faith. This prayerful faith you have also displayed in song, by singing the prayer for the Patriarch – a prayer which expresses our faith that our Church be recognized as Patriarchal. This prayer is like our traditional prayer for unity – “O God grant us unity”; or like our prayer for the ultimate liberation of our land, when we sing “… people in chains, a land imprisoned, even prayer is forbidden … O God, Almighty, grant us freedom, grant us a future, grant us success, strength and ownership of our land …” The Patriarchate, the vision of your faithful spirit, has become a living truth! It will stay so forever!
Because, a little while longer and the Patriarch for whom you pray will cross over to the other life and his person will no longer be the visible symbol and personification of the Patriarchate. However, in your consciousness and in your vision, the living, actual Ukrainian Church is and always will be Patriarchal! Therefore, I bequeath to you: Pray, as before, for the Patriarch of Kyiv-Halych and all Rus’, unnamed and as yet unknown! The time will come when the Almighty Lord will send him to our Church and will make his name known! But our Patriarchate we already have! The struggle for the fullest expression of our ecclesiastical life within a Patriarchate goes hand in hand with the struggle for Church unity among our Ukrainian people.
I rejoice in the fact that although we are still not united in one Church, the sons and daughters of the Ukrainian nation carry crosses upon their shoulders and are united in Christ, in His suffering, and are coming closer to one another in order to embrace in the kiss of peace, as an expression of their fraternal love. In expressing this joy, I beseech you, and may my request become also my bequeathal: “Embrace one another! Let us proclaim: Brothers!” Follow the words of the Servant of God Andrei, who dedicated his entire life to the idea of Christian unity, becoming a herald of the unity of Christ’s Church! Stand up in defense of the rights of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and defend also the rights of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is equally tormented by the repressive regime! Defend also other Christian and non-Christian religious communities in Ukraine. All of them have lost their basic freedom of conscience and religious expression, and all of them suffer for their faith in one God! The closest to us in faith and heritage are our Orthodox brothers. We are united by one Christian tradition, a common ecclesiastical and national tradition, a common two thousand year old culture! We are united by our struggle for the autonomy of our Church, for her fullness, as expressed by a Patriarchate for the Ukrainian Church! All of us, Catholics and Orthodox alike, fight for the resurrection of our Church and for her spiritual strength in Ukraine and in the countries of our settlement. And all of us carry the heavy Cross of Our Lord, confessing Christ! [paraphrase, “Synodal Declarations”, Blahovisnyk, vol. 1-4, 1969, p. 127] I therefore bequeath you: Pray, work and fight for the maintenance of the Christian soul of every member of the Ukrainian nation, for the entire Ukrainian nation and for our strivings for Church unity in a single Patriarchal Ukrainian Church!
Foreseeing the end, I cannot refrain from expressing my bitter spiritual pain which I experienced during my years in the West. This pain was born of the lack of unity among our Bishops in the West. The lack of unity is, so to speak, the original sin which has imbedded itself in the souls of those who are supposed to be the bearers of light for others. This sin was like a thief who crept from the West into our suffering Church in Ukraine. The lack of a feeling for and understanding of unity in the basic issues of the life of our Church and our people is our misfortune, our age-old sin! I have often reflected upon this unfortunate phenomenon: it is first of all a result of an inadequate theological knowledge, a product of being educated is foreign schools, the effect of a foreign environment, an ignorance of the history of our Church, which they have been called to serve …
The rotting fruit of all this is a careless attitude to all the achievements of our forefathers, a disregard for our own heritage and worse still a mad rush for honors, a courting of power which truly reminds one of the battles among the princes during the decline of the Kyivan state and finally the weakening of character to the point that one becomes a mere slave of foreign interest and does obeisance to earthly gods! As the Head and Father of our Church, I taught and I reprimanded. As Father,I called upon them, begging for unity, and as the Head of the Church, I reprimanded them with a clear and firm voice. I tried to awaken in them sleeping consciences and remind them of their pastoral responsibilities for their spiritual flocks: a responsibility before God and the Church the episcopate should be an example of unanimity in the governing of the Church and an example of unity in all aspects of religious and national life! All my experiences in this arena: the disrespect, the spiritual wounds, in a word – “all the arrows of the evil one” – are well-known to you. They were no easier to bear than imprisonment and banishment. And I lived through them with the same pain that I endured during the torture in the camps. But today, I thank the Almighty that I was beaten in the camps and beaten in freedom! I thank Him that they beat me and did not glorify me! I forgive them everything, for even they were but instruments of the Lord, who called me and gave me His Grace to be in prison and in freedom, a prisoner for Christ’s sake! Our glorious predecessor of blessed memory, Josyf Benjamin Rutsky in his spiritual testament made allusion to the same sin, to the same lack of unity among the bishops. In his account he mentions the continuous arguments, the search for earthly wealth, the pastoral carelessness and he calls upon the bishops to achieve spiritual unity and faithful work. Rutsky says: “I only ask one thing of you, my Most Reverend Fathers, Bishops of Rus’, and that is that you join together in Christ’s love and in that love that you unite yourselves with your Metropolitan. May you in word and deed recognize him as your Father …”
Having expressed this most bitter sorrow and pain which fills my heart I do not wish to chastise anyone. Therefore, Honorable and Dear Brothers in the Episcopal service, forgive me as I have forgiven you! When I express this sorrow I wish it to remind you one last time as a father and as a pastor: In unity save our Church from destruction and ruin! May your unity, the unity of the entire episcopate of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, be a stimulant and an inspiration to all pastors, clerics and faithful, whose ancestors were born by the Mother Church – the Kyivan Metropolia. On the historical road they have wandered into different lands, among varying people and they have forgotten their Mother who gave them life! Help them rediscover their Mother!
“Sitting on a sleigh …” my thoughts turn to my brothers and sisters in Ukraine in the farthest regions of the Soviet Union, to those who suffer in freedom and to those who are punished in the jails, the prisons, the camps of forced labor, and in the death camps … Among them I see new fighters, scholars, writers, artists, peasants and workers. I see among them bearers of truth and defenders of justice. I hear their voices in defense of the essential rights of humanity and of the human community. I look upon them with amazement – how they defend the Ukrainian Word, how they enhance Ukrainian culture and how with all their strength they work to save the Ukrainian soul!!! I suffer with all of them, because for all this they are treated as criminals. I pray for you, my Brothers, and I ask God to grant you the strength to defend the natural and divine rights of the human person and community. I bless you as the Head of the Ukrainian Church, as a Son of the Ukrainian People, as Your Brother, Your Companion and Co-sufferer!
“Sitting on a sleigh …” here on the Vatican hill, as if sitting on the hills on the island of Patmos, like St. John the Theologian, an unwilling exile from his own land, I look into my vision – revelation: I listen to the Voice of the Lord, which says: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the One who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty!” (Revel. 1:8) And I, like John,“ your brother, who shares with you the distress and the kingly reign and the endurance we have in Jesus,” (Rev, 1:9), reveal to you the secrets which I see and which are to come. I see the daughter Churches of our Ukrainian Church throughout the continents of the world. Once they shine like bright stars and then they flicker like wandering flames …, therefore for them here are my Words. To the daughter Church closest to the freezing Polar cap, I call: “I know your deeds; I know you are neither hot nor cold. How I wish you were one or the other – hot or cold! … You keep saying: ‘I am so rich and secure that I want for nothing’ … Be earnest … therefore … repent.” (Rev. 3:15, 17, 19)
Before my eyes is uncovered another neighbour daughter Church, in the land which greets immigrants with a monument, the symbol of liberty, and the home of the city of “Brotherly Love”. There also was born the first daughter of the Ukrainian Mother Church – beyond the ocean. I call upon you with the Lord’s voice: Christ gave you “the key of the House of David”, A symbol of strength and authority (cf. Is.22:22, Rev. 3:7), “The keys of death and the nether world.” (Rev. 1:18) I know your works, and all know that I have loved you. If you maintain my words “I will keep you safe in the time of trial, which is coming on the whole world.” (Rev. 3:10) Do not be tempted therefore, but be the defender of the imprisoned and suffering members of your Mother Church! Be a living example of Brotherly love! In the south I see with my soul’s eyes a young daughter Church, on the continent whose oceanic shores are blessed from on high by the Savior-Christ.“ I bless you also, my humble one! Listen to the voice of the Lord, which comes to you: I know of your tribulation and your poverty, even though you are rich … Remain faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:9-10)
With thanks I think of the daughter Church in the land on the other side of the world, and in prayer I give you the Lord’s voice: “I know your deeds – your love and and faith and service – as well as your patient endurance.” (Rev. 2:19) Although you are far away, you are so close to the Mother Church by ties of spirit and of the heart. I bless you and I pray: Sustain yourselves in the faith of your fathers, in the love of you brothers, in the service of your Mother Church! And may your reward be “the morning star” (Rev. 2:28) which shall be given you by the Lord. With pain in my heart I look upon the daughter Church in Albion. I will speak to you no more, because I see the end. And since my voice, the voice of the Head of the Ukrainian Church did not make its way to your peaks and did not move their consciences, then today listen to the voice of the One “with the sharp, two-edged sword: I know you live in the very place where Satan’s throne is erected; and I know you hold fast to my name and have not denied the faith you have in me … Nevertheless, I hold a few matters against you: there are some among you who follow the teaching Balaam, who instructed Balak to throw a stumbling block in the way of the Israelites … Therefore, repent! …” (Rev. 2:12-14, 16)
From my hill as if on the hills of Patmos, I look upon daughter Church in the surrounding countries on the old continent. I pray for her, for she is divided by cordons and torn by curtains, and the Voice of the Lord says to her: “I know your conduct: … being alive, when in fact you are dead. Wake up and strengthen what remains before it dies. I find that the sum of your deeds is less than complete in the sight of my God. Call to mind how you accepted what you heard; keep to it, and repent. …” (Rev. 3:1-3) And among these visions which appear before my eyes, I see the great city of Kyiv in my native land. In parting I speak to it in the words of Revelation: “I know your deeds, your labors, and your patient endurance. I know you cannot tolerate wicked men; you have tested those self-styled apostles who are nothing of the sort and discovered that they are impostors. You are patient and endure hardship for the cause. Moreover, you do not become discouraged …” (Rev. 2:2-3) Therefore the voice of the Lord calls to you: “I will … remove your lamp stand …” (Rev. 2:5) I your son, say farewell: “Shine on, shine on …, our Jerusalem, and you will once again arise to your former glory!” These visions, My beloved spiritual flock I pass on to you in order to aid you on your pilgrimage!
I would not be a loving father and a good pastor if I would forget those beloved ones who worked closely with me. Those priests and monastics who during my time here on this Roman island formed my spiritual family. They listened to me as their father, they worked with me and they served me, their Pastor, with their knowledge and their untiring labour; they prayed for me and with me: they embraced me with their love. They aided me and worried over me as I was weakened by old age. They shared my joy and my pain. They helped me carry the heavy Cross of a Prisoner for Christ! With a sincere paternal heart I thank you and I bless you with my failing right hand! I pray the Almighty God in the on Holy Trinity, to allow the Holy Spirit to overshadow and enlighten you, and to sustain you in the faithful service of the Ukrainian Church!
Bury me in the Patriarchal Sobor of St. Sophia, and when my vision is realized and freedom returns to our Holy Church and our Ukrainian People, carry my coffin to the Ukrainian land and place it in St. George’s in Lviv, by the tomb of the Servant of God Metropolitan Andrei. I am dying, and going from this world as the one whom he, Metropolitan Andrei, the Head of Our Church, named by his authority the Exarch of Greater Ukraine. If it be God’s will and the desire of the Ukrainian people, place my coffin in the catacombs of the renewed Sobor of St. Sophia. In the catacombs of the Kyivan prison I was tortured for many years when I lived; in the catacombs of the renewed Sobor of St. Sophia in Kyiv I would rest, being dead according to the flesh!
Bury me, my Brothers and my Children, and “draw your strength from the Lord and His mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. Our battle is not against human forces but against the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world of darkness, the evil spirits in regions above. You must put on the armor of God if you are to resist on the evil day; do all that your duty requires, and hold your ground. Stand fast, with the truth as the belt around your waist, justice as your breastplate, and zeal to propagate the gospel of peace as your footgear. In all circumstances hold faith up before you as your shield; it will help you extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, the word of God.” (Eph. 6:10-17) “I sit on my sleigh prepared for the road into the distance …” and I pray to our Heavenly Protectress and Our Lady, the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin: Accept under your all-powerful protection our Ukrainian Church and our Ukrainian people! May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all! Amen!
The humble Josyf, Patriarch Joseph Card Slipij Patriarch
In prayer and reflection, written from 1970, completed and signed on the eve of the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the All-Pure Virgin Mary, 1981