- Today's kontakion: Today the time of earthly deeds is revealed for judgement is at hand. Let us be found fasting, and let us bring cries of supplication, begging mercy and crying out: “I have sinned more times than there are sands of the sea; but forgive me, O Creator of All, that I may receive the crown that does not perish.” A troparion, and a kontakion is a kind of second troparion, is like a collect except it doesn't follow the Western formula (it isn't to the Father through the Son, etc., or it talks directly to saints) and it's not one of the priest's prayers; in theory the congregation but often in practice the choir sings it. (Real Byzantine Rite piety is wonderfully medieval folk Catholicism; the people can tune in and out.)
- What a letdown. The church that Stalin couldn’t kill: Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church thrives seventy years after forced reunification. What an opportunity to tell the wonderful, moving story of a traditional Catholic church surviving real persecution in modern times, the church where I first saw traditional Catholic worship "live" three decades ago (when the Eastern rites were the only Catholics still allowed to be traditional), where I first experienced Byzantine Christianity (there is an Orthodox tradition, not an Orthodox Church), and where I am honored to worship one Sunday a month, and what a way to blow it. The story: during World War II the Soviets invaded and annexed Galicia, by then all that remained of the Ukrainian Catholic Church except immigrants abroad, because of past Russian westward expansion. Of course, besides their being atheists the Soviets hated the Catholic Church for many of the same reasons the Orthodox tsarist Russians did; they couldn't own it and they were doubly outraged that western Ukrainians, close cousins they thought should belong to their empire (the empire being a substitute for the universal church), chose not to — why Russian churchmen hate Uniates. A traitorous priest presided over a synod "returning" the Ukrainian Catholic Church to Russian Orthodoxy, which by then had been beaten, literally, into being a Soviet puppet. None of our bishops would leave the church; they were murdered, imprisoned, and sent into internal exile, never to return home. So the head metropolitan (his official title is major archbishop, essentially a patriarch), Josyf (Slipyj; Byzantine Rite bishops are normally, nominally, monks so they don't use their last names), was imprisoned until some kind of deal between the Holy See and the USSR got him released in 1963; meanwhile our top churchmen weren't sure the Ukrainian Catholics still existed in their homeland. Then as Communism began to fall at the end of the 1980s, this church resurfaced. Parishes supposedly Orthodox declared themselves Catholic again (same thing happened in Slovakia during the 1968 Czechoslovak revolt) and an acting metropolitan, Volodymyr (Sterniuk, pictured), appeared. He had run the Ukrainian Catholic Church from his apartment. You had crypto-Catholic parishes and underground ones. So what's wrong with this article?
The next three-and-a-half centuries established the church as a thriving spiritual center that was closely connected to rising social and intellectual movements as they struggled to define an identity for nascent Ukrainian populations that found themselves under the serial domination of empires and states in the region... The church’s influence on Ukraine’s social and political life has been evident since independence. Students from the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv were some of the first to come to Kyiv in 2004, to support the ideas and aspirations of the Orange Revolution against an authoritarian regime. And in 2013-14, Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity was suffused with the moral values and tolerant attitudes propounded by the church. Its clergy were a daily presence on the Maidan throughout the three months of struggle. Together with the other churches and religious denominations of Ukraine, the UGCC has helped to create an ecumenical and diverse environment for social movements in Ukraine. As a bulwark against authoritarianism, this spirit of ecumenism continues to be Ukraine’s best instrument as it struggles toward becoming a democratic and prosperous state.The current metropolitan sounds like this. This isn't the exile Ukrainian Catholic Church I met in the 1980s, blessedly still pre-Vatican II. An empire, a neutral thing, isn't a substitute for the universal church but neither should churchmen tie themselves to the liberal idea of the nation-state, let alone the rest of liberalism. (The Orange Revolution and Maidan, in which the Ukrainians overthrew their lawfully elected president: American, that is, liberal, puppetry?) Why, seemingly ironic but because I'm Catholic, I'm moderately pro-Russian against this. Putin could be a new Constantine; Russia a sword of Christendom. But "diversity" and "tolerance," politically correct platitudes, in Byzantine drag? (I knew things were bad when 25 years ago I heard a Ukrainian-American priest apologize for "sexist language.") Not what Metropolitan Josyf suffered for; no, thank you. Why men such as Roissy think Christianity is for cucks. Liberalism is a Christian heresy; I understand its appeal, but it's still wrong.
- Nice to hear about St. Patrick, as we are this time of year (thanks to so much 1800s immigration, March in America is Irish Month; by the way, he wasn't Irish, only evangelizing in Ireland), but... Russian Orthodox Church adds St. Patrick to its calendar. Aw, they're pretending to be a universal church. It makes sense because he's pre-schism so of course in theory they have always claimed him but still. Of a piece with the Western Rite Orthodox experiment (rootless, unlike Ukrainian Catholics). Reminds me of the Mormons proxy-baptizing the dead.