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KIEV BRINGS BACK ORTHODOX SAINT NICHOLAS INSTEAD OF SOVIET-ERA FATHER FROST
from The Moscow Times

Select to see full-size! (20 Nov) New Year celebrations in Ukraine's capital Kiev this year will be spearheaded by Sviatii Mykolay — this Orthodox country's spelling of Saint Nicholas — instead of his secular Soviet-era counterpart Father Frost, according to an outline of the festivities published by the city administration. This favorite Ukrainian Saint Mykolay is coming to town on Dec. 19, when his official "residence" will open to the public in Kiev's renowned St. Sophia Cathedral, the holiday program published on the administration's website this week said.

Like in Russia, the Ukrainian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated in accordance with the old Julian calendar and starts on Jan. 6, but for many of the country's residents the highlight of the holiday season is New Year's Eve. Ukrainian singer Oleh Skrypka, leader of the group Vopli Vidoplyasova, complained to the UNIAN news agency earlier this month that "New Year previously comprised an eclectic [mix] of the American and Soviet New Year. It's some sort of competition for children between Santa Claus and Father Frost," he was quoted as saying, adding that he would "very much like to remember Saint Mykolay."

The statement by the Kiev administration did not specify whether its decision to put Saint Mykolay in charge of the holidays was motivated by a wish to break away from Russian or Soviet practices. The Soviet regime, which frowned upon any demonstrations of religious faith, abolished all tsarist-era church holidays in the country after the Bolshevik Revolution. It then promoted New Year's Eve as the major winter holiday to allow the population accustomed to large-scale festivities at the turn of the year to keep their celebration. [read more...]


HOLODOMOR REMEMBRANCE EVENTS BEING HELD IN KYIV ON NOV. 22
from Kyiv Post

Select to see full-size! (17 Nov) This photo shows participants of Eurmaidan Rally at Maidan Nezalezhnosti [Independence Square] in Kyiv who made Holodomor years (1932-1933) out of candles on the ground last year, on Nov. 23, 2013. The mourning today marks the 81st anniversary of the 1932-1933 Holodomor being conducted in Kyiv on Nov. 22, 2014, said Volodymyr Viatrovych, director of the Ukrainian National Memory Institute.

The U.S. White House Press Secretary issued the following statement: "Today, we join Ukrainians around the world, including many Ukrainian-Americans, to honor the memory of the millions of Ukrainians starved to death in 1932 and 1933 by the barbaric policies of Stalin’s Soviet Union. The Holodomor, or death by hunger,' remains one of the gravest atrocities of the last century and is a singularly tragic chapter in Ukrainian history.

"While the suffering of the Holodomor was immeasurable, this man-made famine failed to extinguish the unconquerable spirit of the Ukrainian people. As we commemorate this horrific tragedy, we also pay tribute to the enduring strength, courage, and spirit of the people of Ukraine – qualities that Ukrainians continue to draw upon today as, in the face of great adversity, they seek to build a more prosperous, secure, and democratic state." [read more...]


CHRISTIAN POLITICIANS AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS AGREE TO A MEMORANDUM FOR A "SINGLE UKRAINIAN CHURCH"
from Asia News

(20 Nov) A memorandum for the creation of a single "local Orthodox Church" in the Ukraine, signed by the heads of various Christian denominations, including the Greek Catholic Church, in Rivne province in the western part of the country has sparked a major controversy and revived inter-religious tensions in the former Soviet republic, still shaken by the war in the east. On 13 November, as reported by various Russian news agencies, two UOC-MP bishops, representatives of the Kyiv Patriarchate, the Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the Greek Catholic Ukrainian Church signed a memorandum put forward by the Rivne provincial administration, calling for unity among Christians, which represents a de facto schism for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), the only one canonically recognised by the Moscow Patriarchate.

The two UOC-MP bishops did in fact sign the memorandum, namely Metropolitan Anatoly of Sarny and Polesskoe, and Metropolitan Varfolomy of Rivne and Ostrog. The two took this initiative without consulting Metropolitan Onufry of Kyiv, but later announced that they were withdrawing their signatures. This was explained by "the pressure put on the clergy and the faithful," but also by new attempts by members of the Ukrainian Church-Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) led by excommunicated Metropolitan Filaret to seize churches belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate.

Vladimir Legoida, a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, noted that "This document only confirms the extremely difficult position in which the dioceses and faithful children of the canonical Orthodox Church in western Ukraine find themselves. It is completely obvious that such documents are signed under the strongest political pressure," he told RIA Novosti. [read more...]


RUSSIA AND U.S. MUST MELT ICE IN RELATIONSHIP, OVERCOME GLOBAL CRISES - PATRIARCH KIRILL
from Interfax-Religion

(21 Nov) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia called for efforts to improve relations between Russia and the United States. "Currently we are experiencing not the best period in the relations between Russia and the United States, but not the worst either, if you compare history. I think work needs to be done, including by religious leaders, so that the two world powers could develop their relations and treat each other with mutual respect and trust," the patriarch said at a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Tefft and his wife in Moscow on Friday. He also called on Americans to jointly participate "in the big cause required of us by numerous crises which have engulfed the modern civilization."

The religious leader called the U.S. a great nation with which Russia is bound by many ties, including historical ones. He recalled that the first Orthodox believers appeared in the west of the U.S., and in Alaska when it was still part of the Russian Empire - those were a mission of monks from the Valaam Monastery. "The history of Orthodox Christianity in America is linked to the names of two very outstanding people: Metropolitan Benjamin of Moscow, who was a missionary among Aleutians, the small ethnicities of the North and Far East, and with the name of Patriarch Tikhon, who was earlier a bishop in New York," the patriarch said. The Russian Church was directly involved in pastoral work on the American continent, "and this led it into contact with the U.S. Protestant churches," he said. Moscow Patriarchate did not cease dialogue with them and other religious communities in America even during the Cold War, Patriarch Kirill recalled. [read more...]


IS VLADIMIR PUTIN TRYING TO BUILD A NEW ORTHODOX EMPIRE?
from Slate

(11 Nov) The recent conflict in Ukraine has put the Russian Orthodox Church in a particularly awkward position. Though Kirill is theoretically the patriarch of all Orthodox Christians, in Russia and in other countries, Ukraine actually has three separate Orthodox churches, only one of which is subordinate to Moscow. Many members of that church support Ukraine’s Western-backed government against the pro-Russian separatists in the east, so the church risks causing a schism or losing its last remaining foothold in western Ukraine if it speaks out too forcefully. “The tragedy is that members of the same Orthodox Church fight on both sides,” says Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of church-state relations in Russia. “That makes our situation especially difficult.” Kirill has walked a fine line in his public statements on the conflict. He has proclaimed both that “Ukraine is an Orthodox country, inherently connected with Holy Rus,” while also paying lip service to the “sovereignty of the modern Ukraine.” On a local level, however, there’s growing evidence that some churches have been aiding the pro-Russian rebels.

Chaplin sees nothing wrong with the church and state speaking together with one voice. “The idea of an inevitable conflict between the church and the state is a peculiarity of Western civilization,” he says. “For Orthodox civilization and way of life, as well as Islamic civilization, the very idea of the conflict between the religious community and power is something alien.” When Chaplin was asked if Orthodox civilization, as he conceives it, is compatible with democracy, he replied: “The Western type of democracy is not universal, it should be confronted, it should be argued, it should be replaced in most of the societies that don’t see it as something compatible. The Western political system is just one of many systems that exist and will exist in the world.” [read more...]


DONETSK BISHOP APPEALS THE UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT'S FINANCIAL SANCTIONS ON AREA OCCUPIED BY TERRORISTS
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(19 Nov) UOC(MP) Metropolitan of Donetsk and Mariupol Ilarion appealed to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko requesting that retirees and disabled persons who are living in the Donbass in combat zone not be left without financial resources. A decree of 14 November by Petro Poroshenko put into effect a decision by which the Ukrainian National Bank proposed to stop servicing bank accounts of businesses and residents in the zone of military operations in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces for a month.

"I, as ruling bishop of the Donetsk diocese, along with parishioners and clergy am definitely alarmed by several provisions of the above-mentioned order that restrict a number of civil rights and liberties of the most vulnerable strata of the population, retirees and disabled persons," states the letter of the metropolitan to the president, which was posted Monday on the diocese's website. Many of them by reason of one or another condition are physically incapable of overcoming bureaucratic formalities for arranging pensions and finances in accordance with the new conditions of the order that threatens their health and very existence, the ruling bishop from the Donbass notes. [read more...]


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:

BELARUS: METROPOLITAN PAVEL AFFIRMS STRONG BOND BETWEEN ORTHODOX AND CATHOLICS
from
Aid to the Church in Need

UNIATES FOLLOWING UOC HIERARCHS DISTANCED FROM MEMORANDUM FOR ONE LOCAL CHURCH
from
Interfax-Religion

DOWN WITH ARMS! A COMMENTARY ON THE PRESENT CRISIS IN UKRAINE
from
Russian Evangelical Alliance

WHY VLADIMIR PUTIN AND THE MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE WILL DESTROY RUSSIAN ORTHODOXY
from
Religious Information Service of Ukraine

THOSE COMING IN TO FIGHT FROM RUSSIA REFER TO THEMSELVES AS THE ‘ORTHODOX ARMY’
from
Mission Network News

TERRORISTS SEIZE CHURCH OF CHRIST THE SAVIOR IN DONETSK
from
Religious Information Service of Ukraine

PATRIARCH KIRILL AND PATRIARCH IRINEJ BLESS MONUMENT TO TSAR NICHOLAS II IN BELGRADE
from
Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate

YOUNG RUSSIAN PROFESSIONALS ANSWER GOD’S CALL FOR THE WORKPLACE
from
Mission Eurasia

THE TRINITY-DANILOV MONASTERY: APOCALYPTIC VISIONS IN MEDIEVAL RUSSIA
from
Russia Beyond the Headlines - Religion

END OF COMMUNISM WAS NOT ALL GOOD FOR CHRISTIANITY: TOP VATICAN OFFICIAL
from
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NOW, OUR VIEWS:

It is heartening to learn that Ukraine is taking the lead to restore the real Saint Nicholas to the Christmas celebrations, in place of the secularized Santa Claus of the West or the atheist Grandfather Frost carried over from the former Soviet Union. Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, is renowned for saving the daughters of a poor Christian family from being sold in forced marriage by secretly giving gold coins to that family. From this we have the tradition of gift giving at Christmas time. It is also encouraging to hear that several Ukrainian Christian jurisdictions, both Orthodox and Catholic, briefly expressed their desire to form one "United Ukrainian Christian Church " ...only to be forced by their hierarchies to back out of this declaration. Hopefully the upcoming meeting of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople with Pope Gregory of Rome this month will bring this much-needed idea to the fore. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Ukraine were to be the place for Christian churches to unite instead of fighting?

Today we commemorate the tragic events of the Holodomor - "death by famine " - during the winter of 1932-1933. Stalin's armies had reconquered Ukraine, which had become independent after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. But a spirit of national independence remained strong in Ukraine, so in 1932 Stalin appointed a young understudy, Nikita Khrushchiov, to "take care of the problem. " Khrushchiov commanded the execution or deportation of nationalist clergy and intellectuals, destruction of Ukrainian churches and the confiscation of cattle and food supplies, sending this food to Russia. As a result, approximately ten million Ukrainian peasants were starved to death or murdered for "resisting collectivization " - trying to get just a few grains of wheat or any other food. In turn, millions of Russians and Central Asians were moved into Eastern Ukraine to dilute the native Ukrainian population. Several gruesome first-hand testimonies to those tragic events are recounted in this video.

This year, marking the first anniversary of the Euromaidan protests, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has declared 21 November to be the "National Day of Freedom and Dignity. " Also, last Saturday, 15 November, was the 75th anniversary of the Soviet annexation of Western Ukraine in 1939 due to the infamous Brest-Litovsk Treaty between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Western Ukraine had been part of post-WWI Poland, and even as far back as 1595 had come under the Polish-Lithuanian Kingdom, bringing the Rusyns, as the Ukrainian people were called then, under the Roman Catholic Pope. The Rusyn Christians were allowed to retain the Eastern Orthodox liturgy, to omit the Filioque phrase from the Nicene Creed, and to retain the right of priests to be married, but were loyal to Rome. So in 1939 Stalin's henchmen executed or exiled to Siberia thousands of Rusyn clergy who refused to join the Russian Orthodox Church, which was largely infiltrated by the KGB.

Many people are aware that ancient Kievan Rus was converted to Christianity in 988 A.D. But why did the term "Rus, " after which the Rusyns were named, shift from Kiev to what is now called Russia? After all, Moscow didn't even exist until 150 years after the Christianization of Rus. The answer is outlined, strangely, in a little-known book Secret Diplomatic History of the Eighteenth Century written by none other than Karl Marx. This is the only work by Marx that was never translated into Russian in the Soviet Union, and you will shortly understand why. Marx details the rise of Muscovy thusly: "[T]he Russia of the Normans completely disappears from the stage, and the few weak reminiscences in which it still outlived itself, dissolve before the terrible apparition of Ghengis Khan. The bloody mire of Mongolian slavery, not the rude glory of the Norman epoch, forms the cradle of Muscovy, and modern Russia is but a metamorphosis of Muscovy"(p. 122, emphasis mine).

Ghengis Khan's hordes had plundered as far as Kiev, forcing the Orthodox bishop to flee to Suzdal, out of their reach. Most of the remaining Slavic princes fought with and betrayed each other to the ruling Khan. "It was in this infamous strife that the Moscow branch won at last the race. In 1328 the crown of the Grand Princedom, wrested from the branch of Tver by dint of denunciation and assasination, was picked up at the feet of Usbek Khan by Yury, the elder brother of Ivan Kalita. Ivan I, Ivan Kalita, and Ivan III, surnamed the Great [and the Terrible - ed.], personate Moscow rising by means of the Tartar yoke..." (pp. 124-125). Thus Muscovy, the heir to Ghengis Khan's empire, eventually moved the seat of Slavic Orthodoxy to Moscow and claimed for itself the ancient title "Rus," leaving the original Rusyns to be renamed Ukrainians.


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For a daily reminder to pray for the items below, go to My Daily Prayer Guide and click on the "H-N pr." link!


Prayer and Praise:

Sun. - Praise the Lord that Ukraine is bringing back the celebration of Saint Nicholas to the Christmas season!
Mon. - Remember in prayer the suffering of the Ukrainian nation during the tragic time of Holodomor 81 years ago.
Tue. - Pray that a single, united Ukrainian Christian Church will be born out of that country's present struggles.
Wed. - Thank God that Patriarch Kirill is calling for melting the ice in the relationship of Russia with the U.S.
Thu. - Pray for healing of the tragedy that members of the same Orthodox Church fight on both sides in Ukraine.
Fri. - Intercede for the poor, disabled and elderly in eastern Ukraine who are not receiving their pensions.
Sat. - Ask the Lord that Christians in East and West will relearn and resume "Doing the Work of Ministry."

Select to see full-size!   Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...

  Your fellow-servants,

  Bob & Cheryl

p.s. Worry's like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but doesn't get you anywhere!