by Thomas Bremer
When the Ecumenical Patriarchate granted autocephaly to the newly established “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), it intended to create a single local Church which would basically comprise all the Orthodox believers in that country. The name of the new Church as it appears in the tomos, namely “Most Holy Church of Ukraine,” implies that idea, as do several statements of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in the course of 2018 in which he underlined the need of unity for Orthodoxy in Ukraine. The OCU affirmed this as well, calling itself on its website for a long time the “only” or “single” local Church (yedina in Ukrainian, a term which is difficult to translate), and stating on its home page, “Our Church is open for all!” The main idea was to unite Orthodoxy in Ukraine.
It is well known that the till-then only canonical Church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), rejected the initiative. Several hundred parishes changed their jurisdiction, but there was no landslide movement toward the OCU; the UOC still remains the largest Church in the country. In fact, self-proclaimed “Patriarch” Filaret split off from the new Church (though he has only marginal support) so that the attempt to re-establish unity obviously failed. Realistically, for a long time to come there will be two large Churches in Ukraine, one acknowledged by Constantinople, the other by Moscow. Continue reading
by Mother Abbess Theoxeni
The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle will soon be publishing a collection of essays titled The Ecumenical Patriarchate and Ukraine Autocephaly: Historical, Canonical, and Pastoral Perspectives. The collection will include twelve papers by eminent clergy and laity related to the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. We are pleased to offer our readers an exclusive preview by Mother Abbess Theoxeni: “The Voice of Silence: A Monastic Voice on the Ukrainian Question.”
“Evil is erroneous judgment concerning the conceptual images of things.” – Saint Maximus the Confessor (Chapters on Love, 2.17)
The decades-long schism in Ukrainian church life has created polarization not only between ecclesiastical jurisdictions, but also in the hearts of the people.
Saint Maximus described erroneous judgment concerning the conceptual images of things as evil. Similarly, a mistaken assessment of the complicated situation that has prevailed for many years in Ukraine has led to an accumulation of many evils, producing deep social division and a rift in the ecclesiastical body with countless tragic consequences.
In the Orthodox Church we pray “for the welfare of the holy churches of God and the union of all [people],” and we invoke the unity of faith and the communion of the Holy Spirit. This means that the Holy Spirit is to be found in unity and that the gifts of the Holy Spirit activate unity. How indeed can there be unity when we do not live in accordance with those gifts which Saint Paul names as “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5.22)? Continue reading
His Grace Bishop Maxim (Vasiljevic) | српски
In European cities, the period of anticipation of the joyous feast of Christmas has turned into a commercial and consumerist custom. Why are we so far away from an authentic approach to the feast?
There will always be a number of those who see in Christmas another opportunity to evoke the past and traditionalism, which returns to the past by “protological” mindset. Man aspires to archetypes. However, I would say that those who are faithful among us are also responsible for the commercialization of Christmas. We have begun to look for symbolism in the “past” (the cave, the fire, and such) by conjuring up the atmosphere of the Bethlehem cave. We have contributed to directing the meaning of the holiday to the past, and not the future. The entire event of the Birth of Christ—by which, as we know, the New Testament begins—is in the sign of future events: the God-child has come to save the human race, but its salvation is not completed by the incarnation of God alone, but by the events that follow, such as the Resurrection and Pentecost. This perspective requires another set of eyes and logic far from an archetype point of view but instead from an “eschatotype”. With such a perspective, Christmas is connected not with a romantic winter night, but with a startling desire for salvation from death.
The thought of a Polish writer Stanisław Jerzy Lec, which goes: “the most difficult time for the truth is the one in which everything can be truth”, seems to be valid for our time as well? Continue reading
by Fr. Bohdan Hladio
“No earthly joy exists unmingled with sorrow” —St. John of Damascus
We are all no doubt aware of the controversy surrounding the recent proclamation of autocephaly for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. As a Ukrainian Orthodox priest, I cannot help but see how St. John’s words are an apt description of the situation of the Orthodox Church in general and myself personally.
I recently traveled to Ukraine, visited friends in previously “non-canonical” churches and monasteries, and was able to serve the Liturgy with them. This brought much joy to us all. For most Orthodox Ukrainians the recognition of the Church in Ukraine as worthy of autocephaly is the correction of an historical injustice, the righting of an ecclesial wrong.
Yet I have friends within various Orthodox churches here in North America who see this proclamation of autocephaly as a source of sorrow. And I have trouble understanding why. Continue reading