There is an ongoing controversy over which language is better to use in Ukraine for prayer. The answer is simple – God hears our prayers better in the native language so no such questions should arise after the difficult path the Ukrainian nation has walked. Mother tongue is the soul of the nation.
Head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine Epifaniy has taken to Facebook to address the language issue.
“Some controversies arise to this day as to which language is ‘more right’ to address God, which is better to perform worship in temples, and, finally which God ‘hears’ better. The answer is simple: it’s NATIVE!” the metropolitan emphasized.
He noted that such questions must not even be put forward given the difficult path the Ukrainian nation has walked to gain independence and preserve its identity, as well as assert what’s been gained by such hard work, achieved at such a high price and with so many sacrifices.
“Similarly, the history of our Church with its millennial roots convincingly proves that the mother tongue language should be heard in the Ukrainian Church. And no matter the obstacles and bans artificially invented, the truth will still win,” the head of the OCU emphasized.
He reminded that Jesus Christ himself carried the word of God and addressed people in his native Aramaic language during his earthly days. The Holy Apostle Paul also wrote in the first century: “So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. […] For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. […] [I]n the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.”(1 Corinthians 14: 9, 14, 19).
“Because the native language is like the soul of the people. A soul that preserves and transmits all memory, achievements, history, and traditions. And that is why it must live in the Church as well: native language in a native Church. It is it that brings understanding. Without the native language in worship, preaching, communication, the Church becomes alien, distant, incomprehensible, and alienated for the people. Isn’t this what all those imperial conquerors who destroyed Ukrainian temples, burned books, banned our language and humiliated it, branding it a “streetmarket” tongue, “unworthy” to be used in worship services, had been craving for?” Metropolitan Epifaniy underlined?
He quoted Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Hilarion Ohienko, also a linguist and a public figure: “The absence of a living Ukrainian language in Church is a robbery of the faithful. It is like preparing a generous feast for the starving – and only showing it to them, while not letting them to satisfy hunger! … Bring the native Ukrainian language to the Church – and the Holy Spirit will embrace it like a child, and the Church will revive and blossom like a rose in May, becoming so alive and nice!”
“By God’s grace, we rejoice today that we have the opportunity to pray in our native Ukrainian Church in our native language,” concluded Metropolitan Epifaniy. “We’ve been moving toward this for so long… But we have won, we have found our living and true way to God, and therefore we have no right to lose it. Let us praise our Lord as faithful and conscious children of our native Church!”