Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko lit a Christmas candle near the Icon of the Mother of God of Minsk at the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Minsk to mark Christmas celebrated by Orthodox Christians on 7 January.
The head of state met with Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl Pavel, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus. Attending the event were also the laity, representatives of Orthodox brotherhoods and sisterhoods, and Sunday school students.
Alexander Lukashenko said that on his way to the church he was thinking about many different holidays. “The criterion of their diversity is people’s attitude to these holidays,” he said. "Some mark Day of October Revolution or the 1st of May, while others use these days to run their own affairs. There are, however, holidays that are celebrated by everyone. These are universal holidays. We go out to celebrate them. These are both social and, as we say, spiritual holidays. Some social holidays are filled with spirituality as well. These are Victory Day, Independence Day, Women’s Day,” said the head of state.
He stressed that such spiritual holidays as Christmas or Easter are celebrated by all the people. “These holidays are the days of invigoration and inspiration for the people,” the president said. In his words, these holidays are marked on different days by everyone, regardless of the religious confession.
“Our greatest achievement is that everyone in our country celebrate this holiday,” the Belarusian leader added.
Metropolitan Pavel wished the head of state “God’s help in his service, strong health and long life.”
“The main purpose of my visit here is to thank Metropolitan Pavel, the priests, and everyone who carries the cross of God for the sake of the people's spirituality, for serving our people and the state. The church’s contribution to peace and stability on this land lying at a crossroads is huge. This is the contribution of all our confessions and, especially, the priests of the Orthodox Church as the biggest confession in our state. People respond with peace and do good. Please, do good and we will cherish this peace,” said the President.
Alexander Lukashenko stressed that the main values are peace and calmness. Money can always be found and earned. “Our Lord sees everything. If we do not cherish peace, He will punish. Let us cherish this peace. It is of great importance to us,” the Belarusian leader said.
“As Metropolitan Pavel said, the son of God has come to take us to heaven. Until he calls us, let us do the maximum of good things on earth so as not to be ashamed up there afterwards,” the head of state added.
The main achievement for Belarus in 2017 was to overcome the negative tendencies in the economy, he said. “We lived through a very difficult year. I will not go into the details as I spoke about it much at the end of the year and also in my New Year’s greetings. The main event of the year is that we managed to overcome the negative tendencies in our economy, and it has had a positive effect on our entire society,” the President said.
“The life is not an easy road here and I understand it. It is livable, however. This year we must take a step forward to make our life not simply livable but normal. We have everything necessary to achieve this. We must definitely take this step and we will have an absolutely different mood in a year's time,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The head of state assured that he would do his best so that people could have a better life on the Belarusian land. The head of state assured that he would do his best so that people could have a better life on the Belarusian land.
“We live with our minds filled with hopes for a bright future, and I am confident that these hopes will come true in the ongoing year,” the President said.
He donated the Icon of the Nativity of Christ to the Belarusian Orthodox Church. The icon was made using unique wax tempera techniques. The icon painting is similar to the Polotsk fresco and is traditional to the Belarusian school of icon painting of the 12th century.
Alexander Lukashenko got the Icon of the Savior as a gift from Metropolitan Pavel who brought the icon from Jerusalem. The icon was blessed in HolySepulcherChurch.