Posted by: Fr Chris | April 25, 2014

Update on Me; Ukraine; Eparchy of Phoenix

Christ is risen!  Indeed He is risen!     Christos voskrese!  Voistinnu Voskrese!

I’ve been hit by another string of physical problems, which are leaving me really tired. I hope that by next Wednesday my doctor will have test results in and a course of action: either we are tweaking some medications, or starting out on a new one, or finding out I have a new condition. My preference is #1. But I learned a long time ago to simply pray for the grace to accept what comes, and unite it to the Cross of Christ and His Sacred Passion for the salvation of souls and then go with it as best as I can. That lesson came from the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur who taught at St. John the Baptist School in Kenmore NY, in particular Sr. Mary Bridget.

So, for Pascha I was home, and have been home since Holy Saturday. Missing Pascha is a very big deal for any priest. It was not easy to accept. I watched EWTN a lot, and while the services in Rome and Washington DC were all fine, none were Byzantine. And if you have ever been to an Orthodox or Byzantine Catholic Easter celebration, you know what I mean!*

As noted in earlier posts, Easter is the Feast of Feasts. The Easter Troparion: Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling death, and to those in the tombs granting life, is sung from now until Ascension Thursday. If you don’t know it, check out these videos that present a broad range of this central prayer: our Byzantine Catholic parish   Trenton NJ, Slavonic – glorious melody  A wide range of  the Pascha Troparion in multiple languages from different Eastern Orthodox and Greek/Byzantine Catholic Churches of Europe, Near East, USA, Japan (there’s a large native Orthodox Church there, praying in Japanese), Egypt and Ethiopia.  Shows that the message of the Good News is truly “catholic” (universal).


Map of Ukraine

People here ask me why is Putin pushing Ukraine so hard? For one thing, east Ukraine has heavy industry and resources. For another thing, Russia’s demographic crisis is such that now 20% of Russian citizens are child-bearing Muslims, while Russian women continue to have multiple abortions. Then there is the goal of restoring much of ancient Rus’ to modern Russia’s rule: references have been made to the fact that parts of Ukraine were called New Russia when the Ottomans were driven out 300 years ago. I think this is a major part of it: Mr. Putin does not want a Russian-speaking democracy on his doorstep, one which would show him up as he continues to crush independent voices in Russia in favor of his autocratic control.  If Ukraine’s elections go well in May, and are conducted in the eastern oblasts, they would lead to exactly this. 

Sadly, the pattern of Crimea is being brazenly played out in eastern Ukraine as scores of towns suddenly have very well-armed, masked men in military fatigues without insignia on them showing up and next thing you know, local “militants” take over police stations and town halls. The local militants get asked by foreign reporters as to what are their goals and they go inside, then come back with answers. In a poor country, tons of tires suddenly show up for “checkpoints” and fires, expensive barbed wire and neatly made sandbags are laid out in military precision, new weapons equally suddenly appear, and men who do not speak Russian with Ukrainian accents or local sayings give guidance from behind black balaclava masks.

Mr. Putin had denied that Russian troops or agents were in Crimea, and then when the occupation was complete admitted that he had lied. The same holds here: denials today, truth later.

Here is the interesting thing for my readers: The Kiev International Institute of Sociology is highly respected, and it has been conducting polls in the eastern oblasts, with fascinating results that show us what Ukraine’s eastern citizens are really about, as reported in today’s Wall Street Journal, page A8.

A lot of the trouble is taking place in Donetsk oblast, where only 18% approved of the takeover of the oblast assembly and only 28% wanted annexation by Russia. As for the entire Ukrainian East:

Ukraine has violated the rights of its Russian speakers: 23% say yes.

Ukraine and Russia should remain independent, with visa-free passage: 59.4% say yes.

Want to become part of Russia: 15%  say yes. The margin of error is under 0.8%. Hardly evidence of a mass uprising of Russian speakers longing to be saved by Moscow!

All polls show that the great majority of people want the status quo, even if they think that the new government in Kiev is illegal:

And Russia’s media continues to churn out completely fake claims of attacks on the peaceful civilians by vicious Ukrainian fascist troops, that peaceful dissent is crushed, and that Russia is being “forced” to act. Just go to any site of RT – I won’t dignify it with putting in a link to such crazy propaganda.

Well, may God grant that the Ukrainian leadership can hang on long enough until Putin is forced to back down for economic reasons. And may God grant that all of this ends peacefully, with no more people being tortured to death as in Horlivka, and no more kidnappings, takeovers, threats, etc. But that requires that Putin and his forces respond to God’s grace and not their hunger for empire, that Ukraine moves to democracy from being a kleptocracy as under Yanukovych, and everybody sits down and really talks with each other, without balaclvas on and with open hearts. Most Holy Mother of God, pray for us.


Our new deacon 

Holy Angels Church, San Diego 

My Eparchy of  the Holy Protection of Mary of Phoenix sent one of its best priests, Fr. Robert Pipta, off to become the rector of SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Pittsburgh . His parish has been handed over to Fr. Matthew Alejo, a Melkite priest of Filipino-Arabic descent, and our newest deacon, Artur Bubnevich from the Mukachevo Eparchy, now part of our eparchy and soon to be a priest. God grant them both many blessed years serving the Phoenix Eparchy, Christ is risen!

*PS If you don’t know anything about the Eastern Catholic Churches, check out this good Canadian video:  on Unity and Diversity.

Holy Angels, exterior 





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