||FIRST, THE NEWS:
CARDINAL LUBOMYR HUSAR LAID TO REST IN CRYPT OF PATRIARCHAL CATHEDRAL IN KYIV
from: The Ukarinian Weekly
(10 Jun) Funeral services for Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, the former primate of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (UGCC) who died on May 31, were held in Lviv and Kyiv from June 1 through June 5.
The divine liturgy and the burial rite for Cardinal Husar took place at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv on June 5. Hierarchs of the UGCC participated in the service led by Patriarch Sviatoslav; Archbishop Cyril Vasil, secretary of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, who attended the services as the personal envoy of Pope Francis; and the apostolic nuncio to Ukraine, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti.
About 600 priests, scores of monastics and faithful from all over Ukraine and abroad came to pay their last respects to Cardinal Husar, who was revered as the Church's patriarch. Many public figures, government officials and politicians came on that day to honor the former head of the UGCC at the Patriarchal Cathedral.
On June 4, following a procession to the cathedral, the coffin bearing the Church leader's body was placed in the center of the edifice. After the service, thousands of people came to give their final tributes to His Beatitude Lubomyr; many wept openly. The cathedral doors remained unlocked, whether it was day or night, and prayer vigils were read at the coffin.
Referring to the "uniqueness of Lubomyr's holiness," Patriarch Sviatoslav said: "We see that the power of God manifested itself in his weakness; when he lost his physical sight, his spiritual eyes opened even wider. Wherever he entered, everyone rose." [read more...]
KAZAKHSTAN: FINGERPRINTS, MUGSHOTS, FINES FOLLOW WORSHIP RAID
by Felix Corley: Forum 18 News Service
(08 Jun) Police who raided a Baptist Sunday morning meeting for worship on 28 May in the southern city of Taraz took 20 of the men and one of the women present to the local police station. There they took their fingerprints, photographed them both face on and from the side, and recorded their home addresses and other personal data. Police have already issued summary fines with no court hearing to eight of those present.
Exactly a week later, police raided a second of the three Taraz congregations affiliated with the Council of Churches Baptists during their Sunday meeting for worship. Police issued further summary fines.
Almaty City Court has overturned a fine and deportation order handed down to an Indian citizen long resident in Kazakhstan for addressing a Protestant Church. The Church itself - which was also fined and ordered to close for three months from April to July - has been trying to challenge the fine and closure order. However, the Supreme Court in the capital Astana returned their appeal without a hearing. [read more...]
CONFLICT BETWEEN GREEK CATHOLICS AND MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE ORTHODOX BREAKS OUT IN KOLOMYIA
from: Religious Information Service of Ukraine
(06 Jun) On June 4, a conflict erupted between the faithful of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate around the building of a church in Kolomyia.
According to IRres, which is citing a local television station STC, it is the wooden Church of Annunciation of the 17th century. The activists of the UGCC came to the church building and organized a meeting in which it claimed the rights to it. Allegedly, at one time Greek Catholics ruled there, but in the Soviet times the church was passed to the Orthodox.
The local community and the priests tried to convince the faithful of the UOC to leave the Moscow Patriarchate. Those, in turn, expressed outrage to this proposal.
As a result, priests of the UOC MP allowed the UGCC representatives to enter the church and celebrate the Liturgy there. [read more...]
BELARUS: PRIEST FORCED OUT AFTER TEN YEARS
by Olga Glace: Forum 18 News Service
(05 Jun) Another foreign Catholic priest has been forced to leave Belarus after the authorities refused to extend permission for him to continue to serve in the country. Polish citizen Fr. Robert Maciejewski - who served as parish priest in Mstislav in Mogilev [Mahilyow] Region for almost ten years - had to leave Belarus on 25 April.
Fr. Maciejewski left Belarus because the authorities had not extended his permit to carry out religious activities, the spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops' Conference, Fr. Yuri Sanko, confirmed to Forum 18 from the capital Minsk on 23 May. Fr. Sanko did not explain the reasons for the denial.
Fr. Maciejewski's enforced departure from Belarus came two weeks after the diocesan head, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, had called for the state to end the requirement that foreign citizens need permission to conduct any religious activity. Another Polish Catholic priest who left Belarus at the end of May after 28 years' service had seen his application for Belarusian citizenship rejected five years ago.
And court bailiffs visited New Life Full Gospel Church in Minsk in late April in a renewed attempt to force it to vacate the building it bought and has used for worship for 14 years. Church leaders hope that negotiations with the authorities will resolve the dispute. [read more...]
SOME 500,000 PILGRIMS VENERATE ST. NICHOLAS'S RELICS AS A 3-KM LINE FORMS OUTSIDE THE MOSCOW CATHEDRAL
(08 Jun) Already half a million people have bowed to the relics of St. Nicholas in the two weeks since they were brought to the Russian capital. "To date, the number of pilgrims has reached half a million people. The line is on average three kilometers long," Patriarch Kirill's spokesman Alexander Volkov told Interfax-Religion on Thursday. Among the pilgrims who came to venerate the saint these days was Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the statistics unveiled by the organizers of the bringing of the relics to Russia, between 18,000 and 48,000 people come each day to bow to the relics of St. Nicholas at the Christ the Savior Cathedral. The average time of standing in the line is about nine hours. The shrine will be on display at the Moscow church until July 12 and will be in St. Petersburg on July 13-28.
On May 21 the relics of St. Nicholas arrived to Russia from a papal basilica in Bari for the first time in history. The relics had never left the city in all of the 930 years they remained in Bari. That the relics were brought here became possible thanks to agreement reached between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill after their meeting in Havana in February last year. [read more...]
TEXT A PRIEST: RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO CONNECT KIDS AND CLERICS
from: Radio Free Europe
(28 May) Earlier this month, several hundred schoolchildren in the central Russian city of Ulyanovsk were gathered in a municipal cultural center for an assembly marking the sixth anniversary of a unique Russian Orthodox Church youth-outreach program.
"It's easier to live with God," Olga Solntseva, director of the department of supplemental information of the Ulyanovsk Oblast's Ministry of Education and Science, told the children. "I hope that all of you will understand this. And the earlier you understand it, the better."
The event to celebrate the Father-Online project, a website and social-media initiative in which Orthodox priests answer questions submitted by youths, was just the latest in a spate of developments that has many Russians questioning the proper relationship between the church and the state in contemporary Russia.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than a quarter-century ago, Russians have wrestled with the role of religion and the Orthodox Church. Under the constitution, Russia is a secular state with a strict separation of church and state. However, President Vladimir Putin has emphasized what he describes as traditional Russian values and has identified the church as a central pillar of Russian national identity. [read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
PROPOSED REFERENDUM COULD CRUSH ROMANIA'S SAME-SEX MARRIAGE HOPES
from NBC News
UKRAINIAN AUTOCEPHALOUS ORTHODOX PRIESTS TO ELECT BISHOP OF TERNOPIL
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
RUSSIA FACES SCRUTINY OVER RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ISSUES
from Mission Network News
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH'S RELATIONS WITH CATHOLICS INTENSIFY AFTER MEETING WITH POPE - PATRIARCH KIRILL
ORTHODOX CHURCH LEADERSHIP SITTING ON INFORMATION ABOUT TSAR'S BONES
METROPOLITAN HILARION VISITS CULTURAL CENTRE "RUH ORDO" IN KYRGYZSTAN
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
GROWING INTEREST IN MARTIN LUTHER IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH, SAYS ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH
NORTH KOREA: MAN BEATEN, FACES SPY CHARGES FOR CONTACT WITH CHRISTIANS IN CHINA
from Eurasia Review
DIVINE BLESSINGS! WHAT RUSSIANS SEEK TO SANCTIFY
from Russia Beyond the Headlines
RELIGION IN BELARUS – FROM ORTHODOXY TO PROTESTANTISM?
from Belarus Digest
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The photo in our first news article CARDINAL LUBOMYR HUSAR LAID TO REST IN CRYPT OF PATRIARCHAL CATHEDRAL IN KYIV is very instructive: the local Ukrainian bishops are wearing traditional Eastern Orthodox vestments, while the bishops from Rome are wearing Western Roman Catholic robes. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was originally part of the Russian Orthodox Church, but when the Austro-Hungarian Empire conquered much of Ukraine in the 16th century, the Orthodox believers were formally brought into the Roman Catholic Church. They were allowed, however, to retain the Eastern Liturgy and vestments and have married priests, but they had to commemorate the Roman Pope instead of the Russian Patriarch in their church services. Gradually, some Roman Catholic practice crept in: notice that Lubomyr Husar is titled "Cardinal" ...but he was called "the Church's patriarch" and the cathedral where he is buried is called "Patrirarchal."
Another example of the mixed-up relations between Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Roman Catholicism is illustrated in the news article CONFLICT BETWEEN GREEK CATHOLICS AND MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE ORTHODOX BREAKS OUT IN KOLOMYIA. This wooden church was built shortly after the Orthodox believers in the region became nominally Roman Catholics in the 16th century. But when the Soviet Union conquered Ukraine, the Catholic churches there were taken back by the Russian Orthodox. And when Ukraine regained its independence in 1991, many of those former Catholics wanted their churches back. This back-and-forth has been going on for centuries - no wonder the word "Ukraine" means "on the border" - between East and West.
Our last news article TEXT A PRIEST: RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO CONNECT KIDS AND CLERICS shows that high school students in Russia are very much like those in the West: constantly texting on their smartphones. To "tap into" this teenage craze, the Russian Orthodox Church has created the "Father Online" app that lets them send text messages to their local Orthodox priest.
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The Sin of Partiality
Some of the most intractable problems in the Christian Church are in the way rich Christians treat poor Christians and the poor in general. St. John Chrysostom wrote - "To show contempt for the poor is as much an infraction of the law as murder or adultery, and it is even more serious because it is so common. Christians must learn to fight against the temptations of worldly wealth and concentrate instead on the heavenly blessings, which are the only true riches. Both rich and poor are all of one body in Christ. Those who base their lives on greed are the poorest of all."
The Apostle John wrote down Christ's words - "To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: 'The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life says these things: I know your works, oppression, and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Don’t be afraid of the things which you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested; and you will have oppression for ten days. Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life.'" (Rev. 2:8-10)
But St. John also recorded these words of Christ - "To the angel of the assembly in Laodicea write: 'The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of God’s creation, says these things: "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing;' and don’t know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked; I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich; and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see."'" (Rev. 3:14-18)
How easy it is for rich people - including some Christians - to think, "I'm rich, I have plenty of money and possessions to meet my needs, now I can relax and enjoy life. But I'd better ignore and stay away from those poor Christians, though, because they're always asking for money, trying to get their hands on my money!" This is the mindset of the Laodicean Christians, of whom Christ said - "because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth."
Practicing discrimination or partiality on the basis of wealth or poverty (or ethnicity or gender) alone is wrong, but we ought rather look for the reasons for wealth and poverty. Some have acquired wealth by hard work and use that wealth for the Lord's work. Others acquired wealth simply by inheritance or good luck and spend that wealth on themselves. The Apostle Paul instructed his disciple Timothy about the proper attitude toward wealth, about people who misuse both religion and wealth -
"...people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these let us be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. ...As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life." (1 Tim. 6:5-10 & 17-19)
Some are poor because of a crisis - drought, illness or economic collapse, or because of a birth defect - mental or physical. They deserve help to recover from such a condition if at all possible. But others are poor because of unwillingness to work or desire to get rich quick by deceitful means, to whom St. Paul writes -
"Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. ...Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need." (Eph. 4:22-25 & 28)
There are some who become poor due to a temporary illness, but then they become accustomed to not working and continue to live off charity from others. To them the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (probably St. Paul) instructs them to discipline themselves and get the rehabilitation they need to get back to normal life -
"For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed." (Heb. 12:11-13)
I write this because there's a great tendency for some people to try to "live off the system" by pretending to be sick or disabled. The problem with this is: if people act like they are disabled or chronically sick in order to gain sympathy or get some benefits, sooner or later they will become the role they are playing. You've probably heard of actors who are called on repeatedly to play the role of a tough guy or a villain. After a few movies in such roles, they're "typecast" - that's the way people begin to relate to such actors, and that's the kind of persons they become. I've witnessed several people who because of a temporary injury apply for permanent disability income. But after they receive the status of "disabled," they grow fat and lazy, physically unable to work. It takes much self-discipline and encouragement from others o break out of this lifestyle.
As I quoted in my most recent essay, St. Paul urged Christians "to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own business, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one." (1 Thes. 4:11-12) And later, St. Paul wrote another letter to that same church in Thessalonica -
"For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but are busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good." (2 Thes. 3:7-13)
So in conclusion, it's wrong to practice discrimination or partiality on the basis of wealth or poverty alone, but instead we ought to examine the causes and the motives of such conditions. Only then should we offer loving advice and encouragement.
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Prayer and Praise: For a daily reminder to pray for the items below, go to My Daily Prayer Guide and click on the "H-N pr." link! For our Daily News & Views, click HERE!
Sun. - Pray for Ukraine as they mourn Cardinal Lubomyr's death, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church's retired Cardinal.
Mon. - Intercede for the 21 people taken by police from a Baptist Sunday worship service on 28 May in Taraz, Kazakhstan.
Tue. - Pray for peace after the conflict between faithful of the UGCC and the UOC (MP) over the church in Kolomyia, Ukraine.
Wed. - Ask God that Fr. Robert Maciejewski, parish priest in Mstislav, Belarus, will be allowed to return and serve there.
Thu. - Thank the Lord for the half-million people who reverently venerated the relics of St. Nicholas in Moscow, Russia.
Fri. - Praise God the 'Father Online' app that lets Russian teenagers send text messages to their local Orthodox priest.
Sat. - Pray that we as Christians won't commit The Sin of Partiality, but rather examine causes and motives of wealth and poverty.
Please remember to pray for Christians in Socialist countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.