NEW YORK: FEBRUARY 24, 2022
Archpastoral Epistle to the Clergy and Flock of the Eastern American and Australian-New Zealand Dioceses on Great Lent and on the Events on the Holy Ukrainian Land
Dear in the Lord Brothers and Sisters:
As we approach Great Lent, this salvific time of profound prayer and self-correction, and in connection with the events in the Ukrainian land, I turn to all with a heartfelt plea: to refrain from excessive watching television, following newspapers and the internet, to close our hearts to the passions ignited by mass media, while doubling our fervent prayers for peace throughout the world, for overcoming enmity and discord, for help for the suffering, for the repose of those who have departed into the eternal life and the consolation of their friends and relatives, so that we all first and foremost remain humane and Orthodox Christians in these difficult times.
The forthcoming Great Lenten period is our path towards the Pascha of Christ. This path leads away from indolence, impatience, fuss and constant anxiety in our spiritual life, and towards wholeness, humility and love. This pious experience do not arise within us without effort, but through adhering to the other world in our churches—the world of light, joy, hope and kindness. Without participating in the divine services of Great Lent, which creates a special atmosphere in our homes and in our lives, attaining such a spiritual state is very difficult, it may even be impossible. Striving towards God, establishing peace within our hearts and participating in the sacramental life of the Church of Christ, wherein lies our personal relationship with God, we reduce the level of evil in this world, we inspire others towards labors and spiritual feats of the Gospel, we enhance peace and brotherly relationships, and do not succumb to the temptations of various discords and divisions.
Therefore, I urge everyone to take advantage of every opportunity offered by the Church to preserve peace and goodness in our hearts, to spend this blessed time of salvation, so that we can all together meet and spend the luminous night of Pascha in unity of spirit and brotherly love, in the renewal of all of our powers and the spiritual joy in the Resurrected Christ and the victory of good over evil! Amen.
of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia