Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Transfiguration


Reflections of Patriarch Svyatoslav

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PatSvyat2From its very inception the Church’s proclamation of the Gospel has centred on defending human life from conception to natural death. However, our life does not end with the conclusion of our earthly journey; there is more to it than our life in the visible, material world.

We should do all we can so that those who are ill, suffering, or dying always experience respect for their human dignity even in the most challenging moments of their life.

Unfortunately, in Ukraine and throughout the world, there abound various theories that deny the dignity of those who are sick, infirm or dying. Even Plato said that if someone is ill they need not be healed, rather they should be left to die. Clearly this contradicts Christian mercy and the call to love our neighbour.

When we speak about the dignity of those who are ill or suffering, the Christian first of all recognizes the suffering Christ. In becoming human, Jesus Christ entered into every human life and every human suffering.

Ukraine finds itself in the grips of the inheritance of the Soviet Union, a state that valued primarily the able-bodied worker and person of reproductive age. Pensioners and the ill were not a priority, especially if they were in financial need.

We fear life because we were created for eternity. Our very heart and consciousness protests against death. Death presents us with a fundamental question about life.

But Christ has opened for us the secret of human death: He voluntarily gave up his life to death, even though He was eternal. In His human nature he entered death in order that we may learn that death is not a punishment, it is not the end, but rather it is a transition. In entering death He showed us the road to resurrection.

I think that today’s society is afraid of speaking about death and discovering its reality, because we do not know the answer to our question. Today’s secular society denies our faith in life after death. By this logic, if death has no sense, then life also is senseless.

Whoever comes to know the meaning of death, then that person can discover the meaning of life and of one’s suffering. This is why the Church preaches faith in the resurrection and asks our contemporaries to reflect upon their own death.

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