Glory to Jesus Christ!
On Monday, all Eastern Christians will begin Great Lent. Of the four Lents on the calendar, this is the “Great” one. Like the St. Philip Fast before Christmas, it runs for 40 days, but the fasting laws are much stricter, and those days are filled with distinct services taken only now. never elsewhere. For Byzantine Christians, both Catholic and Orthodox, daily readings come from Genesis and Proverbs; the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts is sung on Wednesday and Friday nights; the service book called The Triodion is used, and it is filled with beautiful poetry for ever day. So Great Lent will be here on Sunday night at the Vespers of Forgiveness. The question is, will darkness arrive on Monday morning in Ukraine?
The boots of a dead protester in Kiev are entwined with his rosary and small floral tributes. These people can not have died in vain!
The language being used by Mr. Putin and the Russians all comes from communist times. It is said that there are dangers of pogroms (actually anti-Jewish riots of the past) against ethnic Russians in Ukraine – although there is absolutely no sign of that.
The new government is supposedly led by fascist and extremist elements, which evokes images of the Nazis – there is one right-wing group but all the rest are basically social democrats with some nationalists.
The unnamed heavily armed soldiers of Crimea are there to protect against Ukrainian extremism – again, no sign of that.
The Ukrainian opposition has conducted a coup d’etat against Mr. Yanukovych – a coup is the takeover of a government by a small force that has no popular backing. If ever there was a government with popular backing, it is the one in Kiev!
Russian citizens’ lives are endangered, and Russia must step in to protect them. But there are no attacks against ethnic Russians or Russian citizens – the fighting in the eastern Russified provinces seems to be between those who support Kiev and those who long for Moscow’s firm hand.
Agents of “the West” are stirring up trouble, and have acted as provocateurs among the misguided Ukrainian population. Supposed agents of the western powers were alleged to have created the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the Prague Spring of Czechoslovakia in 1968 – in both cases Moscow marched in to save both “socialism” and Russian power in central Europe. The Kievan government would probably love to have Western agents working in their country, to give them guidance on what to do!
All of these are claims used by the Bolsheviks to overthrow the social democrat governments of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in the early 1920s; to occupy eastern Poland and destroy the educated classes in the name of providing safety after the Polish state had “collapsed”, but the Polish government had followed its own rules of engagement and retreat and was safely ensconced in Lwow, keeping up the fight against the Nazis while waiting for Britain and France to attack Hitler: there was no collapse of Poland until the unoccupied lands were brutally taken over by the Soviets.
Soviet soldiers invade Poland, September 17, 1939
In sum, Mr. Putin’s worthless claims are repeats of communist policy from 1920 until the end in 1991. He is trying to create in Russians’ minds a need to send the Army over the border to destroy this fascist threat that wants to murder innocent ethnic Russians in their beds and which has overthrown a democratically elected president with the help of NATO, the EU, and other “western” agents. Moscow must act now to save those poor souls from a supposedly imminent massacre! Mother Russia cannot let her own be slaughtered! So, by all means, slaughter Ukrainians so as to stop this tragedy from happening.
I had hoped that communist double-speak would disappear from Europe – an unfulfilled hope it seems. That Messrs. Putin and Yanukovych can talk like this without feeling any shame shows just how much they love power and the ability to plunder an economy.
Jesus resists the temptations of the devil, as we must do also.
In Great Lent, we pray for our own interior conversion to take place, for forgiveness of our sins, and for the healing of the world still broken by Original Sin. In this Lent, may we also pray for the healing of Ukraine and of Mr. Putin’s addiction to restoring the empire of the tsars and commissars, and that the legacy of the Prince of Peace, whose churches still dot the landscapes and city streets of both countries, will rise up to save us all by Pascha in April. Sweet Jesus, Who loves mankind, have mercy on us and lead us forward, out of darkness, and into Your glorious light. Amen.
Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kiev, founded by St. Vladimir the Great in 1037.