Ukrainian Archbishop urges people to celebrate Christmas amid war

KYIV, Ukraine (CNS) – Lightning strikes and air strikes cannot and should not stop Ukrainians from celebrating the birth of Jesus, said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

“In this time of war, we must celebrate Christmas more than ever – with joy and openness, singing with joy at home and in churches, and in the streets of our towns and villages,” the archbishop said in a Christmas message. published on 24 Dec.

Although the majority of Christians in Ukraine – the Orthodox and Eastern-rite Catholics – often celebrate Christmas and other festivals according to the Julian calendar, this year the Orthodox Church gave of Ukraine in its courts the choice to celebrate December 25 instead of Jan. Many other Christians followed suit, celebrating the same day that Ukrainian refugees mark Christmas in the West and directly deciding not to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace in the same day to do Russian Orthodox.

Archbishop Shevchuk did not comment on that decision.

But he wrote, “This year, in the Ukrainian sky the enemy is trying to extinguish the glow of the Christmas star with his missiles and bombs, we must listen not to the calendar, not to astronomical events, but to the fact that Christ came today to be born in the body of the persecuted Ukraine, crucified.

In his Christmas message, he offered special greetings to “our soldiers at the front,” to wounded civilians and soldiers and to all those mourning the loss of loved ones.

“I offer my condolences and support to all those in exile or temporarily occupied countries, who have endured torture and ill-treatment by the resident and they cannot prepare for themselves a dinner or pray in their church on Christmas Day,” he said. .

“From my heart, I wish you all the true happiness of God’s children, a sweet Christmas, a joyful celebration of the birth of Christ, and a happy, peaceful and blessed New Year,” he concluded. he eats. Kutia is a delicious wheat pudding, usually eaten at Christmas.

As he did during the war, Archbishop Shevchuk also issued a video message Dec.

“Today, many Christians in the world, boys and girls of our church live according to the Gregorian calendar, celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ,” he said. “Ukraine is looking forward to this Christmas!”

There are many people in Ukraine, he said, asking “whether it is possible to celebrate the war. Is it possible to be happy in such harsh conditions? But today we want to tell ourselves and the whole world: Christmas is a holy day prepared not by man, but by God. Despite our weakness, our sadness and our pain, Christ comes to be born among us. When he comes Heaven rejoices in Ukraine.

And while Russian aggression is a major concern, Archbishop Shevchuk asked Ukrainians not to allow commercialism to steal their Christmas celebrations.

In his video message he prayed, “God, reborn life, prince of peace, bless our patient Ukrainian land with your heavenly peace!”