The Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church released a letter this week thanking their fellow Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and all people of good will for their love, support, and prayers in the past months of Ukrainian turmoil. The Ukrainian Church is a Church with a long history of violence and persecution, ever since its Bishops reunited with the Holy See of Rome in the sixteenth century. For five hundred years they have been a scandal to the Orthodox, and under the Communist years all of their Bishops were arrested, some killed, and their property and Churches seized. It is a miracle in itself that the Ukrainian Church has even survived at all, let alone that it is the largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The Church of Ukraine is a testament to the holiness and unity of the Church, that Christ will never leave his flock. They suffer that the works of God may be manifest in them. Today the Church is led by a young and vibrant man – His Beatitude Svyatoslav Shevchuk, the signatory of the aforementioned letter. The zeal and holiness His Beatitude possesses, especially at his young age and in such a violent part of the world, is reminiscent of the young St. John Paul II, who became a Bishop when he was only thirty-eight. Long live Patriarch Shevchuck!
And speaking of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, I attended the Divine Liturgy at a parish which will remain nameless, at which a very curious thing happened. Being the Feast of Pentecost, Liturgy began with a procession around the Church, which went swimmingly. Upon entering the Church the Liturgy continued as usual with the litanies and antiphons. This Church was not fortunate enough to have a professional choir, but the congregation held their own for the most part, as Byzantines are known to be able to do. Upon the onset of the Alleluia, however, nobody sang. For an awkward few seconds, the whole Church cringed, waiting. Finally some people in the back started to sing lazily, followed by the minimal choir in the front. Unfortunately they began on about five different notes which clashed horribly with each other, causing a dreadful sound. The priest is up at the altar of course, incensing, when, and I kid you not, he comes to the Royal Doors, stretches out his arms like Moses, and hollers with an exasperated sigh, “STOP! Start over!” And thus the beautiful Liturgy continued without a hitch. Anyway, I thought it was amusing. Very beautiful parish. Very friendly people, though I have a feeling their poor Priest has to do that a lot.
The World Cup is on. Soccer sucks. Soccer’s boring. Pray nobody gets decapitated . . .
I think it’s fascinating how even after the Christendom out of which they evolved has gone the way of the dinosaur, fairy-tales are still so immensely popular. Maleficent, which I reviewed earlier this week, is a perfect example of this. I think this phenomenon might be similar to the popularity of the Goth culture. An aesthetic which borrows heavily from medieval Catholicism, but not necessarily identical to it. Some may see this as a bad thing. I think it shows that no matter how hard you try, you cannot finally outrun Christianity. You can’t hide form the Hound of Heaven. God will go down any path to find you. Frightening, but also hopeful.
Another YouTube channel to recommend, this time by the lovely name SanctisBovis (get it? Holy Cow). The hostess’s name is Daria, an Orthodox Christian working in a prison ministry. She rambles a bit, but her insight is beautifully simple. Keep up the good work Daria. Here’s a sample:
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