Posted: 16.06.2022 12:03:00

Better tomorrow – in purity of soul

Ten centuries ago, our ancestors have made a choice that changed the course of history and illuminated the path for future generations. The path of faith, piety and Orthodoxy. In 992, an eparchy was founded in Polotsk — the first in the Belarusian lands. It is from it that the history of the Orthodox Church in Belarus begins. The main celebrations dedicated to the 1030th anniversary of Orthodoxy in Belarusian lands and in memory of St. Euphrosyne of Polotsk were held in the ancient city of Belarus, which recently celebrated its 1160th anniversary. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia took part in the celebration of the 1030th anniversary of Orthodoxy in the Belarusian lands.

St. Euphrosyne Convent of Polotsk
Photo by Aleksey Vyazmitinov

Minsk: spiritual support

In the capital, the patriarch’s schedule turned out to be rich: His Holiness laid a wreath at the Victory Monument, consecrated the Church of St. Cyril and Methodius Equal-to-the-Apostles at the Patriarchal representation office in Minsk, and then led an all-night vigil at the Holy Spirit Cathedral. Long before the prayers began, people lined up along the temple in reverent expectation. Thrill and excitement — with such words the parishioners described their experience after the vigil.
Pensioner Nina Dementieva watched the vigil on the screen at the entrance to the cathedral, “I was glad to hear words of support, God’s blessing to our country. I want to live in peace and health, raise children and grandchildren without fear. I hope that with God’s help, young people will also understand what real values are.” 
Anastasia Tselkova brought her sons Aleksandr and Nikolai to the vigil,
“I bring up boys in the traditions of love for God and people. They attend Sunday school, sing in the choir, serve in the altar. In general, they were in for temple since childhood. Today we saw our Primate for the first time. We wanted to hear it personally from him how to live in these difficult days. His prayer support and guidance is very important today.”
The sermon of the patriarch turned out to be very sincere — he admitted that his heart rejoices, because church life in the wonderful lands of Belarus is developing thanks to the self-sacrifice of people, “And when we talk about the development and self-sacrifice, the word asceticism comes to mind. It has a common root with another word, well known to every faithful person — ascetic. Development is a necessary criterion of a person’s spiritual life. And our development has a specific goal — to inspire, to come to God, and to move forward, in order to help others safely and saintly walk along the path of life.”
In memory of the joint prayer, the Patriarch presented Metropolitan Veniamin with a cross and two panagias. In addition, he presented 21 copies of the altar Gosling-colour for our parishes. In response, Metropolitan Veniamin thanked His Holiness and presented a copy of the Orsha Icon of the Mother of God, the masterpiece of Belarusian icon painting of the 17th century.

Polotsk: cradle of prayer 

The ancient city became the centre of the celebration of the 1030th anniversary of the founding of the first eparchy in our lands — Polotsk. The official history of the Orthodox Church on the territory of Belarus starts from this event. The main celebrations dedicated to this date took place on June 5th, the Day of Remembrance of Saint Euphrosyne of Polotsk.
The beginning of the feast was laid by the Divine Liturgy in the Polotsk St. Sophia Cathedral, where it takes place once a year on June 5th in memory of the saint. Then the procession went to the St. Euphrosyne Convent of Polotsk along the route connected with Euphrosyne’s earthly life. Her spiritual and educational path began in St. Sophia Cathedral, and continued in the St. Euphrosyne Convent, where the relics of the reverend reside today.
Patriarch Kirill led Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross of the Saviour. His Holiness recalled the stormy history of the Polotsk land, which took many blows, but survived thanks to faith. Now the Orthodox Church is the spiritual backbone of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine.
“Make your faith stronger, remember that this is the most important step. We know how marriages are destroyed, how love is destroyed if there is no faith and responsibility before God. And if there is no responsibility before God, then the responsibility before the people and the country can recede in a difficult moment. But a man who fears the Lord, who knows that the betrayal of his people is a great sin, will never do this. That is why I insist that the basics of Orthodoxy be taught in schools, it is absolutely necessary. Because it is necessary to form the consciousness of children in love for God, neighbours and people,” addressed the Patriarch. 
His Holiness noted that he was glad to have the opportunity to pray to St. Euphrosyne together with everyone, to ask her for intercession before God for the land of White Russia, the land of All Russia, the strengthening of the Orthodox faith, and most importantly, for the preservation of the sobriety of mind and purity of conscience of our contemporaries. And if so, then a truly better tomorrow awaits us. The Patriarch is convinced that a truly better tomorrow is where the purity of the human soul is.

Photo by Yury Mozolevsky

People from different parts of Belarus came to Polotsk to join such a significant event for our Orthodoxy. “This is joy, this is universal joy! Look how many people are there. Everyone is crying and rejoicing. This is a great event!” schemanun Magdalena shared her impression.
“The sermon of Patriarch Kirill was of a great significance, in particular, its part about earlier work with youth, teaching the basics of Orthodoxy in regular schools. The idea is good, but it is more important how it will be implemented. A lot depends on who is teaching. It is crucial that children trust those people. After all, you can both attract to faith, and turn away forever,” pilgrim Maria shared her opinion.

‘Truth is on our side’

Belarusian President met with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

Photo by Aleksey Stolyarov
The Belarusian leader emphasised during the conversation, “Now is a hard time. And it is good that you have come here. You are not a stranger here. This is a good sign for our people. A sign of unity, solidarity in the face of these evil forces. Believe me, the truth is on our side. It always prevails. We will withstand any pressure, whatever it may be, be it in the form of a rebellion or some kind of hybrid wars, or even hot wars. We will survive… The planet cannot do without our civilisation.”
The President noted that he was deeply immersed in the events related to the celebration of the 1030th anniversary of Orthodoxy in Belarusian lands. Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that this is very important for the Belarusian people, “Our Orthodoxy began from there.”
The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, in turn, shared his opinion, “Usually, when you go to meet a head of state, you have different thoughts in your head, thinking what to say and how to act... Here I feel at ease. Because I know that I am meeting a kindred person who has assumed a huge responsibility for the safety, for the preservation of his people, for the preservation of the identity of his people… The human race will not survive if everyone is forced to follow the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and if people are governed by standards that are developed without their participation, by some think-tank centres. People’s lives, policies and culture will be adjusted to fit these standards. I am glad to witness that Belarus is among those states that can be called sovereign states.”

The feat of the reverend

The life of Euphrosyne is impressive: even now it is difficult to imagine what kind of inner strength she had to have in order to go against her family and not stumble at the same time. The girl was not interested in wealth and eminent princes who were asking for her hands. She wanted something else — to devote herself to the service of God. It was St. Sophia Cathedral that became the first home of the saint: in a small cell she sincerely prayed and copied books. However, soon the reverend went to a place called Seltse, and created a women’s monastery there — the same one where the sisters live today. The architect Ioann helped build the stone St. Sophia Cathedral in just 30 weeks. And in 1161, the master Lazar Bohsha made an altar cross-ark with great shrines. True, as the story goes, it was lost during the Great Patriotic War, but in 1997 an exact copy was created by the Belarusian jeweller Nikolai Kuzmich.

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