Priests “will descend to the bomb shelters” of Kyiv on Sunday to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, Ash Wednesday, said a leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who has led the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church since 2011, shared a video message this week letting residents of Ukraine who are under a government-mandated curfew, know that the church will come to the people.
All citizens of Ukraine have been ordered to stay inside, and has been strictly enforced as Russian forces continue to take over.
In a video released by the Secretariat of the Major Archbishop in Rome, Shevchuk said “But in that case, the Church will come to the people. Our priests will descend to the underground, they will descend to the bomb shelters, and there they will celebrate the Divine Liturgy.”
He went on to say, “Today I would like to ask all those who have the opportunity to go to church: go to the Divine Liturgy. Today, go to Confession. Everyone receive Communion. Today, receive the Eucharistic Christ, to sacrifice for those who cannot go to church, to sacrifice Holy Communion for our soldiers. Today our life is in their hands. To sacrifice for those who are wounded, for those who are discouraged, for the refugees who are on the roads during this crooked war in Ukraine.”
In conclusion, Shevchuk said: “Allow me to impart to all of you, from here, from the hills of Kyiv, from the first-throned city of Kyiv, to impart to you this resurrectional and joyous blessing of God: May the blessing of the Lord be upon you, through His grace and love for humankind, always now and ever and for ages of ages. Amen.”
About 9% of Ukrainians are Greek Catholics and belong to the Churches of the Byzantine Rite. Approximately 6% of the population make up Roman Catholics, and about 1% of the population are Latin Rite Catholics, which are concentrated in the western part of the country.
Pope Francis, who called Shevchuk on February 25th, celebrated Ukrainian Catholic leaders for remaining among the people amid the conflict.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is always 46 days before Easter. Lent is a 40-day season and includes repentance, fasting, reflection, and celebration by those of the Catholic faith.