CWN - The heads of the nine of the world’s 15 autocephalous Orthodox churches are traveling to Kiev, Ukraine’s largest city, to commemorate the 1025th anniversary of the baptism of Kievan Rus’, the medieval Slavic state that helped give birth to modern Russia and Ukraine.

Interfax, a Russian news agency, reported that the other six Orthodox churches are sending official delegations as well.

“The past 1025 years have seen both glorious and tragic events,” Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church said in a message for the occasion. “Faith in Christ was inculcated in our forefathers and brought forth abundant fruit, yet it happened in the most difficult of circumstances. Many have tried to deflect the peoples of Rus away from Orthodoxy. This was the goal of those who wanted to enslave us, coming from the West and the East. This was the wish of those wanting to build the 'ideal' society without God, going against his eternal law.”

As the anniversary celebrations began, thousands of believers in Moscow queued up to venerate the Cross of St. Andrew, which is on exhibit at the city's Orthodox cathedral. The cross-- which had previously been venerated in St. Petersburg, and will later be shown in Kiev and Minsk-- is on loan from the Greek city of Patras, where the apostle St. Andrew was martyred.

“The hearts and souls of many of our compatriots have been sanctified by Christ’s truth,” the message continued. “It is our duty and spiritual imperative to preserve this truth and build our private and public lives upon its foundations.”

Blessed John Paul II referred to the baptism of Kievan Rus’ several times during his pontificate, perhaps at greatest length in a letter to Cardinal Joseph Slipyj. The baptism “took place when the Church in the West and the East was preserving its unity, although it drew abundantly from the two different traditions and belonged to two different human cultures: from this flowed the remarkable richness of the universal Church,” the Pontiff noted. “It was only in the eleventh century that the division came which brought great sorrow and anguish both to the Christians of that time and to the followers of Christ in the succeeding centuries even down to our own day.”


Teachings of Christ

“Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 ESV)

Encounter

Rejoice, O Mother of God, Virgin full of grace. * From you has risen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * shining upon those who are in darkness. * Rejoice also, you righteous Elder; * for you received in your arms the Deliverer of our souls, * Who has given us resurrection. (Troparion, Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

O Christ God, through Your birth You sanctified the Virgin's womb; * and blessed, as it was proper, the hands of Simeon. * Now, having come, you saved us. * Give peace to Your commonwealth in times of war * and strengthen our civil authorities, whom You have loved, O You who alone loves mankind. (Kontakion, Tone 1)

(The Feast of the Encounter is February 2nd - the 40th Day of Christmas)

Random Proverb

"Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you." (Proverbs 3:28 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God's mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved. 

St. John Chrysostom