PASTORAL LETTER ON THE ATTACK ON AMERICA
Terrorism Destroys New York Landmark,
Damages Pentagon, Plane Crashes Kill Thousands
The picture on the right was taken by members of our staff in late June, 2001, just months before the buildings of the World Trade Center were leveled by terrorists.
Photo copyright 2001, www.uaoc.org
Dear Fellow Americans, Members of the Ukrainian-American Community, Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Slava Isusu Khrystu! Glory to Jesus Christ!
Shortly after 9:00 this morning, after completing the Holy Liturgy for the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, in our episcopal chapel, we turned on the television to NBC's The Today Show from New York City, only to hear the tragic news that the Metropolitan See of our Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in the USA, the City of New York and our nation were under siege, the result of a mindless act of terrorism, designed to deliberately cause inexpressible harm and countless causalities to the American people. We had not even been able to digest the fact that one plane had collided into the north tower of the World Trade Center when, right before our eyes, a second jet came crashing into the southern building of what has become known as the "Twin Towers" an American and New York landmark, a symbol of the great blessings of prosperity that God has blessed our country with.
As the human tragedy unfolded, we could not help but feel the deep, level of sorrow and disbelief being felt around the country. As we lit the vigil lights in front of the icons of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, we prayed firstly and foremost for the safety of our beloved Metropolitan Stephan and our dear Metropolitan Alexis in New York, and our thoughts likewise turned to the families of countless civilians, emergency and law enforcement personal, volunteers from the medical and religious professions and yes, even our own relatives, whose lives would be forever changed by the evil leveled against our country. We prayed for their protection and for comfort for those who would experience human loss.
As we have so often emphasized before, through sermons, pastoral letters and personal conversation with many of you, ours is a nation founded on the most sublime principles of liberty and justice, freedom and peace of which also is the foundation and the living impetus of the Gospel of Our Lord. Certainly, no one human institution is perfect and there are undoubtedly areas in which our nation has fallen short of its lofty calling, just as we ourselves fall short of what God expect us to do with the talents given us, but dear people, there is not a single state on the face of this earth that embodies better in its constitution, beliefs and actions, that faith in the human community which constitutes Christianity and which Jesus calls us to by virtue of our baptism.
To be sure, there will be and I have already had the unpleasant task of reading the remarks of certain authors, clergy professing to live by the Gospel, who, although taking full advantage of the blessings of living in America, derive from this sublime tragedy such saccharin and critical pious platitudes as (and I quote):
"Gone is the false bravado of American 'superiority,'
gone is the strength symbolized by our dominance of world trade and weapons
of destruction. We are left alone -- alone in our despair, alone in our
fear, alone in our feelings of vulnerability . . . And so we talk -- we
analyze, we discuss, we strategize -- all in a useless attempt to make
ourselves fell better, to feel once again invulnerable, to feel powerful and
protected. . . Mistakenly we think that we desire peace and national security."
- anonymous Orthodox priest writing to parishioners-
But, dear brothers and sisters, our nation's strength is not gone and we are not left alone, for we know that "God is with us" "Z nami Boh," and he will never abandon us but rather, will give us the strength we need to unite in order to protect ourselves and our own people and to rise above the present evil plot, to new heights of world leadership, promoting liberty and the values of the "Gospel of Peace." Would some rather have hostile nations control trade and weapons? Would they prefer to answer to the likes of fundamental Islamic fanatics in the world scenario rather than have the United States play the key roles it does in the global community? I really think not.
All of us have a unique heritage and it is one of the many beauties of the United States, that we, though many, from different ethnic and religious origins, can become as one, in a nation of freedom. Our people still come to these shores to seek the benefits, the equalities and the ability to practice their own beliefs that this nation allows. Now is the time to unite around our country, around our president and our elected officials, to make sure that the tragedy of today will never be repeated again, and that the great loss of life is not completely in vain, but, as the phoenix rising from its own ashes, our society will rise to new levels of world leadership, implementing measures that will put an end to terrorism, religious and ethnic hatred and war. "War, war, never again war," ring the familiar words of Paul VI to a New York audience at the United Nations in 1964. These words take on an even greater urgency in the face of today's horrendous act of violence.
Rather than cowardly and sanctimonious accusations of American superiority, in an attempt to justify the evil actions of religious fanatics, it is American charity and selflessness that must be promoted throughout the global community, for the reality is that whenever there is crisis in the world, Americans are there, ready to help, to heal and to change wrongs into rights. Our nation does not sit by idlely and watch basic human priorities being violated, but is always willing to take the stand of truth, no less than our Lord Jesus Christ himself would instruct us to do. May God keep our people steadfast in the knowledge that they are a strong people, walking the path of peace.
I ask all of our parishes to hold a memorial service - panakhyda for all of those who lost their lives in the four plane crashes today, the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings and their subsequent aftermath, this coming Sunday, following the parochial Divine Liturgy. We also ask you to pray daily for peace in both our own country and throughout the world, and that God, who knows the hearts of all, may guide our leaders and all Americans to live by the principles of liberty and justice, upon which our nation is founded.
Sincerely Yours In Christ,
+ARCHBISHOP MICHAEL J. CHAMPION, DD., MA Th.
Archbishop of Cleveland & Coadjutor
on behalf of
and the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in the USA.
SPECIAL UPDATE: His Beatitude, Metropolitan Alexis has been involved in hands on relief efforts at the "Ground 0" level, in wake of the destruction of the World Trade Center. Stay tuned to our website for detailed descriptions of the human stories that are coming out of lower Manhattan.
Below are approved special petitions to be inserted in the "Ektenia of Fervent Supplication" after the Gospel and Homily on Sunday, September 16, 2001. The prayer at the end is to be read after the amvon prayer, with the usual invitation preceding it, as given below. In those parishes where the Divine Liturgy is celebrated daily, the following troparia are to be taken during the liturgy in addition to the special petitions. We also suggest that a Moleben to Our Lord or the Mother of God be taken in the evening, with the special petitions during the ektenia and the prayer below at the bending of the knees.
During their daily prayers, the faithful should also read or sing the following troparia:
(Tone 6) Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us, since we have no defense. We sinners offer this supplication to you, our Master, have mercy on us.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
(Tone 6) Lord, have mercy on us, for in you we place our hope. Be not exceedingly angry with us, nor mindful of our transgressions, but look upon us even now, with mercy and deliver us from our enemies. For you are our God and we are your people. We are all the work of your hands and we call upon your name.
Now and ever and forever. Amen.
(Tone 6) Open to us the doors of mercy, O Blessed Mother of God, that we who place our trust in you may not perish, but that through you, we be delivered from misfortune. For you are the salvation of all Christians.
During the Fervent Ektenia - "Suhubaja":
O Lord, who loves all people, with merciful eyes look upon your sinful and unworthy servants who are making our fervent supplication on behalf of our country, which is founded on trust in you. Preserve our land from all further danger and from the attacks of the evil one. May the tragedies of this past week never be repeated again and may we all work for the furtherance of justice and peace, we pray to you, O loving Lord, hear us and have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. (three times)
Merciful Master, you alone are perfect and you call us all to be perfect in as much as our human frailty will allow. Protect our country from all danger, evil and distress. Cast down all efforts of terrorism, which is rooted in pride and hate and trust in the powers of this world, rather than on faith in you. May the many lives lost in this act of violence bear testimony to your words, the only source of truth and make all people aware of and vehemently opposed to the danger of religious triumphalism, the result of which we have seen in this present day. Grant to us these things, O Lord, we pray you, quickly hear us and have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. (three times)
Again, we pray to you, O God, the beginning and end of all things, give rest to those who have lost their lives, with the company of your saints and just ones and number them among those who truly know you. Console those that are left behind by the evil of people's inhumanity to each other, O Lord, kind and merciful, quick to hear and help us, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy. (three times)
Again and again, on bended knees, let us pray to the Lord our God in peace.
People: Lord, have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
PRAYER FOR THE AMERICAN TRAGEDY OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
O God, you are our only hope, our only refuge in the face of evil and injustice. We realize our total dependence on your goodness and mercy. Therefore we pray to you, protect our country which is founded on trust in you. May the present disaster that has been waged against us be brought to a quick halt and may those have imposed this tragedy against us be brought to justice and accountability, so that what has happened to us in these present days will never happen again.
Lord, help and comfort all who, because of this unprecedented attack against our nation have become innocent victims of the hatred that human beings are capable of. Give them and their loved ones the peace and consolation that only you can provide, because you alone are the Giver of all good things and the Lord of peace. May those who's lives have been lost find rest in your heavenly abode and may they join the saints and angels before your throne, interceding for our nation and all of us, who are in such dire need of your great mercy and kindness.
God, our only protector, may our country truly unite in the face of adversity. Give us the strength needed to rise above this current misfortune and to spread a strong message to the whole world, that the American people will not tolerate this vicious and merciless attack upon our foremost interests and upon innocent people, who, having wished no evil to anyone, have become martyrs for the cause of liberty that the United States is committed to and has now suffered for because of this commitment.
Human beings build monuments that pass away, totally devastated in a matter of moments. Life itself is as if a blink of the eye, so precious yet so quickly taken away. You, O God are the only eternal one, the only source of life that cannot pass away but we know and believe that you are with us perpetually. Forgive the sins that we all commit, knowingly and unknowingly, due to our pride and self-assuredness or because of our own weakness and giving in to fallen nature. Pardon all of our short comings, Lord and help us to truly change, to sincerely do our part, so that we can work for peace and justice, trying each according to our own abilities, to circumvent the atmosphere of hate and vengeance that caused the wicked events of September 11, 2001.
Jesus our Lord, continue to give us your Mother as our constant protectress, our intercessor before the throne of your Father and our God. She alone cares for us as a mother cares for her children and has been our Mother of Perpetual Help during our many trials and tribulations. We trust in her and we trust in you. May we be the fortunate beneficiaries of her intercession and your mighty help.
O God, raise up a nation that has been violated and lead us to new heights of the pursuit of liberty and peace. While you know, O Creator that none of us is perfect, none the less, we strive to make freedom available to all, and to protect throughout the whole world, the innocent and weak, the poor and those who do not have a chance to speak up for themselves. With your help, we will never let human rights be violated without doing all that we can to assure that human beings' hatred for each other will not be tolerated, but rather, will be wiped out and those who bring suffering upon others, be brought to true and severe accountability.
Father, the source of all life and bestower of peace in the whole world, we ask you to hear our prayers and the pleading of your suffering servants, as we trust in your protection and love, and that of your only-begotten Son, with whom you are blessed and your all-holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and forever.
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