Some thoughts about the challenges facing the Church, the paths by which it goes and develops, about the prism through which it’s worth seeing and interpreting a lot of things which we perceive through stereotypes – that is what the Head of the Patriarch Commission for Youth of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, father Rostyslav Pendyuk, talks about. Read and listen to more in the broadcasting ‘To Face’.
Читай українською: ПРО ЦЕРКВУ. ТЕ, ЩО НЕ НАВАЖУВАЛИСЯ ЗАПИТАТИ
The Church exists for the sake of people
— Challenges are now more serious than they used to be. But that is good since they urge to action. It is important to change our system of perception, in particular, perception of the Church. Because it is not just an institution existing for its own sake. The Church stands for people, and it exists for the sake of people. Though people often think that coming to the Church they give something to it. You need not give anything. The Church exists primarily for God to be able to give something to you.
And only the person who really feels the need, who understands that (s)he must develop his/her inner world, shape values, will acquire inner balance and happiness. The mission of the church is to make people understand that God and what He gives us is the basics of our lives. If we lose that, everything else is devoid of sense.
It is important to under human needs
— Now the Church does not reach out sufficiently. It would be good it there was more outreach. There are numerous ways for this. There is a good example from the Gospel about the disciples from Emaus. When the resurrected Christ comes to them — they don’t recognize Him since they are busy. He asks them what they are talking about, what is important for them.
It seems to me that now it is important to reach the point where people are, to understand what is important for them, and then try and meet those needs and lead them to their meeting with the Creator.
Many people are expecting ‘Manna from Heaven’
— Everybody has his/her own story which should be considered separately. Somebody probably takes not enough pain to achieve something, or just stays on the sofa and keeps waiting for something to happen.
Paternalism prevailing in people’s minds, according to which someone from above should provide us with something, evokes the respective moods in the society.
A person needs to be perceived through the prism of God
— There is some attitude of God to humans. For God there are no sick or healthy, poor or rich, capable or disabled people — there is just a human for Him. Therefore, in my perception I may not divide people into ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. There are individuals who can change, and stories of each individual.
The greatest apostle of Christ – Paul – was going to Damascus to arrest and kill Christians, but he became the one who called the greatest number of people into Christianity.
There are no people who are absolutely bad
— Everything we know about other people is not always knowledge, but rather rumours, assumptions. We like to draw a line between people, and when we perceive somebody as a bad person, we think everything (s)he does and thinks is a priori bad. But I don’t think that there are any people who are absolutely bad. Besides, everybody has a chance to change.
One should learn to perceive individuals as humans, without perceiving them through their social status or any other characteristics.
A person looking for something keeps going
— I am frustrated about the fact that on the basis of one single experience people make far-reaching conclusions. If you go to a dentist and he treats a healthy tooth instead of the sick one, will you say: ‘That’s it! Dentistry has died for me’? Or will you go to another doctor since your sick tooth keeps aching? The same goes about the Church.
If you dislike something about one church, you have faced some negative experience, which, unfortunately, is unavoidable, go further — to another church.
And are you ready to take pains for God’s sake?
— I am convinced that technologies are not a goal in itself. There are things that cannot be replaced with anything else, like, for instance, live communication as compared to chats. And that has much more sense in it. And in the Church there must also remain the things that are there now — that is a meeting with God and, finally, the effort of everybody coming to the church.
People frequently ask why they cannot watch the mass on TV or on the Internet. They can, why not, nobody prohibits that. But are you ready to make an effort for God’s sake? He gives a lot to everyone. And are you ready to leave your bed and go to a meeting with God?
Nobody is taken to the Church, while everybody is invited there
Nobody can be taken to the Church. That is senseless. One may be invited.
But the question is whether the Church does it, as I think, insufficiently. That is a challenge we are working at. We are now looking for the ways to do this in a more efficient way, in particular, via media, via personal meetings. There are many priests, in particular, in the West, who work with bikers, wear the respective clothing and thus invite people to God. But even we have a lot of positive initiatives now, we organize courses of preparation for family life, we speak about very frank, open things. Young people are frequently surprised that a priest can speak so openly about this. But definitely, more of such work should be done.
Power given by God is a great responsibility
— It is important to realize that the notion of the ‘power given by God’ primarily is the address to those who have this power: bear it in mind that this is not your property. When you have power, that is God’s assignment for you.
Therefore, one should remember about responsibility to people and God.
Chaplains stay at war for the sake of humanness preservation
— War is violence, and that is always bad. But our warriors there, in the East, are not committing violence for the sake of violence, they are there not to take away something from somebody or to expand the territory of their country. They are there for us to have a chance to a peaceful life.
Chaplains are present on the frontline primarily to support, help those people who suffer the horror of the war not to lose what has been given by God to us — humanness.
Prepared by Nataliya PAVLYSHYN