O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Unity in Ukraine and Liturgical Eye Candy!

Слава Україні! Героям Слава! Вічна пам'ять Героям України!

This weekend has been a unique mixture of mourning and jubilation after the Maidan Revolution.

Patriarch Svyatoslav, currently in Rome, served a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy at the Basilica of Santa Sofia earlier today for the Sunday of the Last Judgement. Afterwards, he served a memorial service for the fallen heroes of the victorious Maidan Revolution, and spoke about the situation back home in Ukraine.

His Beatitude spoke about the aid the UGCC and the UOC's gave to the Maidan Revolution, namely the protestors injured by their own government, when they went to hospitals for treatment, were being promptly arrested and taken to the police station upon being released from the hospital. So what the Churches did was to open their church buildings as makeshift hospitals in an underground network, so the wounded could be rushed to a nearby church and treated and operated on by nurses and doctors sympathetic to the cause.

He went on to say that the Ukrainian Churches tried to serve as intermediaries between the people and the gov't to try and prevent bloodshed by the gov't. Now they are trying to preserve the unity of the country and "overcome the hatred" of the Russian sympathizers for a peaceful, free, and united Ukraine. The message of the Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox bishops is much needed to relieve those tensions that still exist. Authoritarian hatred is never the answer and is contrary to the very purpose of Christians: to convert the nations. Man-made ideologies and nationalist supremacy is only destructive of that end, the end of uniting mankind under the Cross. Sadly nationalism has done much to divide Orthodoxy, not just juridically, but mentally as well.

So often in Byzantine antiphons do we laud Christ as the "Lover of mankind" and mankind is called to reciprocate that love back to Him. We are each called to love God by our nature and that reality is what unites us. We can't let ourselves be divided along nationalistic or idealistic lines. We cannot be so superficial as to let man-made secular beliefs separate us from Christ. On this Sunday of the Last Judgement, we must remember that Christ alone survives death and only by joining ourselves to Him can we ever hope to survive our own deaths. What did we hear this morning in today's Gospel (Matthew 25:31-46)? That love of neighbor leads to salvation and not loving neighbor leads to damnation. This is the passage for which St. Andrew the First Called created our beloved three-barred cross: to explain this passage, that those on the right go up and those on the left go down, signified by the bent foot-rest on the cross. He preached that sermon on a hill in the middle of nowhere, prophesying that a great city would one day be built there. That city would be Kyiv of all cities!

I share this partly because of his positive and needed message and partly because Santa Sofia is just so beautiful: