Tuesday, August 25, 2009
'Quench not the Spirit . . . ' (1 Thess. 5:19). Man usually lives careless and unconcerned about the worship of the Church and his own salvation. Then grace awakes the sleeping sinner and calls him to salvation. Listening to this call with a sense of repentance, he resolves to devote the rest of his life to works that are pleasing to God, and by so doing to achieve salvation. This resolution shows itself in eagerness and zeal: and these in their turn become effective when strengthened by divine grace through the holy sacraments. From this moment the Christian begins to burn in spirit—that is, he begins to be unremittingly zealous to fulfil all that his conscience shows him to be the will of God.
It is possible either to sustain and strengthen this burning of the spirit, or to quench it. It is warmed above all by acts of love towards God and our neighbor--this, indeed, is the essence of the spiritual life—by a general fidelity to all God's commandments, with a quiet conscience, by deeds that are pitiless to our own soul and body, and by prayer and thoughts of God. The spirit is quenched by distraction of the attention from God and God's works, by excessive anxiety about worldly matters, by indulgence in sensual pleasure, by pandering to carnal desires, and by infatuation with material things. If this spirit is quenched, then the Christian life will be quenched too.
St. John Chrysostom discusses this burning of the spirit at some length. Here in brief is what he says. 'A thick mist, darkness and clouds are spread over the earth. Referring to this the Apostle said: "For ye were sometimes darkness" (Eph. 5:8). We are surrounded by night, with no moonlight to help us, and it is through this night that we must walk. But God gave us a bright lamp when He kindled the grace of the Holy Spirit in our souls. But of those who have received this light, some have made it brighter and clearer, such as Paul, Peter, and all the saints; but others have quenched it, such as the five foolish virgins or those who suffered shipwreck in the faith, the Corinthian fornicator or the fallen Galatians. And so Paul says, "Quench not the Spirit", that is the gift, for he usually speaks of the "gift" of the Holy Spirit. And what quenches it is an impure life. For if anyone pours water or throws earth upon the light of a lamp, it goes out, and this also happens if they simply pour the oil out of it: in the same manner the gift of grace is extinguished. If you have filled your mind with earthly things, if you have given yourself up to the cares of daily business, you have already quenched the Spirit. The flame also goes out when there is not enough oil, that is, when we do not show charity. The Spirit came to you by God's mercy; and so if it does not find corresponding fruits of mercy in you, it will flee away from you. For the Spirit does not make its dwelling in the unmerciful soul.
'Let us, then, take care not to quench the Spirit. All evil actions extinguish this light: slander, offenses and the like. The nature of fire is such that everything foreign to it destroys it, and everything akin to it gives it further strength. This light of the Spirit reacts in the same manner.'
This is the way in which the spirit of grace manifests itself in Christians. Through repentance and faith it descends into the soul of each man in the sacrament of baptism, or else is restored to him in the sacrament of repentance. The fire of zeal is its essence. But it can take different directions according to the individual. The spirit of grace leads one man to concentrate entirely on his own sanctification by severe ascetic feats, another it guides pre-eminently to works of charity, another it inspires to devote his life to the good organization of Christian society, and again another it directs to spread the Gospel by preaching: as for example Apollos, who, burning in spirit, spoke and taught about our Lord (Acts 18: 2 c).
--St Theophan the Recluse
Natasha Mosgovaya's article reflects her personal path and existence that I discovered many years ago on her Livejournal/живой журналь 6 vivid and often brilliant many blogs written by Russian Israelis. After Arutz 10, she got a real place for...... HaAretz in the US; her insights are always welcome.Russian Jews ponder age-old question: Israel or the U.S.?
|By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent|
|Tags: Israel News, Yiddish|
WESTHAMPTOM, NEW YORK - They sing the American national anthem first. Then "Hatikvah." They forgo the Russian national song for obvious reasons. The 98-year-old granddaughter of Sholem Aleichem, Bel Kaufman, goes on stage and tells the audience how she held her grandfather's hand and he told her this helped him to write better. Then Knesset members and an adviser to Israeli president Shimon Peres discuss whether there is a Russian elite in Israel, and the imam of the great mosque in New York talks about the relations between the Jewish and Muslim communities.
Several hundred young adults are in the audience, the children of Russian Jews who decided to migrate to the "Goldene Medineh" rather than go to Israel. While the children of Russian immigrants who came to Israel and experienced the difficult years of integrating into the new society debated whether their parents had made the right decision by preferring Israel to "Little Odessa" in Brighton Beach, the youngsters in the Russian-Jewish community in New York posed the opposite question: Is the lucre of America preferable to Jerusalem of Gold? Young Russian-speaking Jews who gathered two weekends ago for a "Limmud FSU" conference at the Hampton Synagogue, in Westhampton, New York, said that the families' decisions tended to be intuitive.
The wave of Jews that began to emigrate from Russia nearly two decades ago tended to split evenly between the U.S. and Israel. More than 350,000 people settled in New York alone. During the last few years they have begun to increase their involvement in the Jewish community, they have set up fund-raising organizations, and after several failed attempts to elect candidates to the local political scene, scored a first success recently, when the Moscow-born Alec Brook-Krasny was elected to the New York State Assembly. The children of an earlier wave of immigrants, from the 1970s, some of whom do not really speak Russian, formed an organization called Generation R, and are diligently looking for roots. Meanwhile those from the more recent wave, who migrated to the United States as children or teenagers, and are now in their 20s and 30s, are looking for alternative ways to express their Russian American Jewish identity.
Zingman is active in the Jewish community during his free time. "Something Russian burns in our souls. I have learned to live and work here, and to find friends, but I find it easiest to communicate with guys like myself. We're left with all sorts of social rituals from there, and concepts of friendship, and it's difficult to find substitutes for that. I came here at age 14, to a very American environment, but culturally, I feel as though I have been put in a can of preserves. I follow the new Russian music to some extent, but mainly listen to the '80s and '90s rock on which we were raised."
Zingman has visited Israel five or six times and says, "it is very important for my identity and my life." He even considers himself a Zionist, although he is not contemplating immigration at this time. "Look, it's not that I haven't though about it a lot. By and large my parents made the decision for me. Part of our family made aliya to Israel, some migrated to America, and so we mulled it over a lot. But our relatives in Israel wrote us: Think twice. My parents thought it over and we came here."
Zingman speculates that "maybe my soul" is in Israel. But remembering as he does the difficulties he had in adjusting to life as an immigrant to the U.S., he says he doesn't want "to go through all that again, with work, a language, friends."
Zingman does not know what his family will be like in the future. He says: "I am pragmatic, and I understand it is difficult to maintain a three-dimensional identity. What is most important for me is that my future children will be Jewish, but yes, I would like to retain also some of the Russian culture." The best he can do at the present, he suggests, is to invest in "strengthening the ties to Judaism - then we'll see how it will go with the Russian."
Different values, different jokes
Olga Monastyrskaya, a 27-year-old graphic artist, migrated with her family from Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, when she was 16. Her mother's extended family settled in Karmiel, Israel, and her father's family moved to New York. "So father took the initiative and moved us here," she says, with the hope that his daughter would have a good future. Today Olga works for the publisher Simon & Schuster as a designer, and her life is indeed quite good, she says. She loves it in the United States.
"I finished studying, I work in a serious place, and there are many perspectives," she adds. Yet she and the people who surround her have a common history and identity: They are Russian Jews.
"I don't have a problem with the Americans. I work with them and have friends, but their culture is different and they were raised on different values, different jokes," she explains. "The Americans are more formal. As a rule, you cannot just go over to someone and hang out in his kitchen until 5 in the morning over a glass of tea or vodka and talk as we did in Ukraine. You have to coordinate plans. There may be some exceptions, but you are more likely to find soulmates among migrants like yourself. I had an American boyfriend for two years, and I made friends with Israelis, but something was missing. So I continued looking, and I found Russian Jewish migrants like me, bent on talking philosophy and singing with a guitar. Maybe it's nostalgia, but this culture is part of us. It's not because we have failed, but because this is what satisfies us, spiritually."
Leon (Lunia) Gayer, 33, and English teacher, has been living in Brooklyn for 16 years. "We had an aunt who joined one of the first waves of immigration to Israel. Grandma used to correspond with her in Yiddish. I began studying Hebrew when I was still in Odessa, but we decided to come to New York because they said that in Israel you must serve in the army and the Russian experience with the military has not been too great. One relative told us we were crazy even to consider Israel, where he said they live in mud huts .... Here I remained quite Russian, because in America there is no pressure to give up your previous culture and identity. Because of this approach, the link to tradition comes from a more correct place, without pressure and coercion."
We are not deserters
Despite the arguments of activists who fought for aliya to Israel and were insulted when Russian Jews "deserted," many migrant Jews are drawn to tradition precisely when they are in the Diaspora. M., 28, from Pennsylvania, was raised in a secular Russian Jewish family, but became a Conservative Jew as an adult. Today he wears a skullcap, eats kosher food and observes the Sabbath. He traveled for hours to Limmud FSU, in Westhampton, in the hope of finding a Jewish match.
"The community in our town is small," he said. He did find someone there he wanted to marry, but she was of Sephardi background, and her parents rejected him as a groom. Finding a bride in Israel sounded enticing, but he works for the U.S. Defense Department, and fears such a marriage would harm his security clearance.
Oksana Baiul, the former Olympic ice skating champion for Ukraine, arrives at the conference wearing a coif and immediately becomes an attraction. Everyone wants to be photographed with her. "I discovered my Jewish roots at quite a late stage, at the age of 25, because I am an orphan," she says. "However, the Jewish community received me warmly and now I am helping raise money for an orphanage in Ukraine. Many Russian Jews are looking for a way back to tradition and I think it's really good for the community."
Until recently, the American Jewish community ignored the Russians' uniqueness, hoping that over time they would be absorbed into the community's usual framework. Israeli diplomats and local representatives of organizations such as the Jewish Agency also preferred to ignore reality. However, the Limmud FSU convention demonstrated the extent to which attitudes have changed. Showing up at a one-day meeting with 400 participants were Israel's minister of immigrant absorption, Sofa Landver, the country's consul general in New York, Asaf Shariv, several Knesset members and a Jewish Agency emissary who considers them a potential source for high-quality immigrants.
"Three hundred and fifty thousand Russian Jews in New York mean that every third Jew in New York is a relatively new immigrant from Russia," said Rabbi Marc Schneier, who hosted the conference in his synagogue. "We see the increased number of visits to our synagogues as well as [the interest] of many others who were eager to learn more about their roots and tradition. It is our responsibility to talk to them. They have big gaps to fill with regard to issues that trouble the Jewish community in the United States. We have missed many years by ignoring them. For 15 years the Jewish community did not know how to communicate with them. But it is also clear to us that it is impossible to transform them into 'us.' You can expose them to issues, you cannot force them to adopt a particular way."
Chaim Chesler, the Jewish Agency's former treasurer and founder of Limmud FSU, says that he faced a lot of criticism when he started the project. "Why do 'the Russians' need a unique approach? Let them come to classes with everybody else, like all the Jews," he recalled the comments.
But they did not come. "Because when it comes to sensitive matters such as religion and identity, only Russians can touch other Russians' souls. Finally, 32 organizations contributed to the project, because it works. When a Russian Jewish community assumes responsibility for intensifying and strengthening its identity, it works; not when Israelis or American Jews try to explain it to them."
"Of course I'd like to see all these young people in Israel," said Minister Landver, of Yisrael Beiteinu, "but you've got to be realistic too. You can't always say right up front: 'Come over.' It has to come from them, out of their searching. I know this feeling from the synagogue in Leningrad where we used to meet. It just grabs you, this spirit, the desire to make aliya - not because someone persuaded you. Recently we have seen an increase in the immigration of these young people." Knesset Member Zeev Elkin (Likud), who also came to the conference, thinks that Israel and the Russian Jewish community in the United States have a clear interest in strengthening their ties. "The Russian Jews here are beginning to realize that Israel is a significant arena for the American Jewish organizations. And the Jewish organizations are beginning to understand that this community will not put up with being on the sidelines; that they will break away unless they have equal rights. It's not just the community's considerable size. These are educated people, energetic and quite a number of them are successful too. The process is slow, but we should integrate in time."
Happy birthday, Ukraine! On August 24, 1994, the republic of Ukraine voted her independence. I wrote this Jerusalem post blog three years ago and it continues to make sense; Jews and Ukrainians are doing well in Israel; diplomatic relationships are mo...re difficult for various reasons, but the old connection between the two countries should open up new prospects.
One of the most peculiar issues we have to face as Israelis and Mid-Easterners is the existence of a State which is legally recognized internationally, mostly de jure or at least de facto. On the other hand, we have not succeeded to sketch out where our real historic and mental borders are located, provided that San Francisco's UN partition is only in the process of implementation and will obviously remain our concern in the region for the coming decades if not centuries. I tried to define in a previous blog that this is the normal procedure for a sort of grafting that goes far beyond any mental, cultural, historical development as usually outlined by human brains.
As regards the history of Israel, this grafting process is more than the organic structural proceeding of any return. Judaism is somehow aware that we are rooted in the realization of a project that started with the religious call to worship the One God Who took us out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery. Geography is thus bound to psychology, culture and basically faith, tracking back to Abraham and the multitude of events accounted in the TaNaKh. We may technically speak of a return to Zion according to the Hoq HaShivat (Law of Return passed in 1950); the word is ambiguous: is it a "return = comeback" or "the renewed sequence of an ongoing process"? When we bless meals, we read Psalm 126:1 : " beshuv HaShem et-shivat Zion - when the Lord (will) return the exiles of Zion, we (will) have been like dreamers". It is evident that the word means "go anew, come back". But does it imply that we ever left? Thus, the thing is that as decades pass, old and newcomers discover that Israel's geography and "regions" are not merely a sheltering homeland for "wandering Jews". It is our birthplace even if we would a lot of people would never accept to settle in the country.
This widens the scope of our border marks. For example, "Land of Egypt = Eretz Mitzraim", and "mitzraim" means: "border from the mark traced on the ground with a rope to show a limit, a border". In the Biblical context this is highly symbolic and definitely not ethnic or political. The children of Israel are born out of the womb of a constrictive and limited space.
Okay, we are all limited: geographically, our body is spatially restricted as our capacities to use our brains, memory, envision the future and enlarge our views. Nonetheless, every human is shaped in the likeness of seeds of plenitude. Might not be so essential in our daily socializing, but it can help: "regard others as better than yourselves", says Paul of Tarsus (Philippians 2:16). Just the opposite of our tops: TV serials with handcuffs, jails, bonds, bondage, fences, walls, checkpoints and ropes.
Jewish souls are at their best when they outline spatial and mental freedom beyond any bonds.
Now, the Republic of Ukraine celebrated on August 24th last the fifteenth anniversary of its independence. Ukrainians show a "historic borderland disorder" very close to ours. The Jewish civilization has always developed and maintained strong ties with parts or all the regions of the present Ukraine. "U-kraina" in Ukrainian comes from "kraj" = a) land, country; b) border, borderland, mark (as for "Denmark" - "borderline/mark of Dan), c) krajina = country, principality. This interesting point is that, in Ukrainian, "za kordonu" = "(from) abroad" in the sense of being "beyond the rope" ("kordon" from French (cord, string). True, the country has always slid along flexible and uncertain borders. In the 20th century, the Ukraine was "independent" from 1917-1921, then from 1954 to 1990 within the Soviet Union and finally from August 24, 1991, i.e. 15 years ago.
The Ukraine is one of the most significant countries for the Jewish and today Israeli "civilisation or way of living". This started long ago as in folk’s tales.... As the Iron curtain recently fell, let's track back to the Iron age and the Scythians who took over the steppes where previous invaders had left the stone steles (3000 BCE). Then Greek communities settled together with Jews who also spoke Greek, mainly along the Black Sea areas and in Crimea (Simferopol). "There is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free" wrote Paul (Colossian 3:11). From Persia over the Ukrainian steppes lived a large Jewish community, firstly named "Ashkenaz" as a possible pronunciation for "a-shkuz" (the Scythians). In the 7th century, the Khazars, Turkish nomads, converted to Judaism as it often happened, e.g. in North Africa and in that peculiar region of the Black Sea. The Khazars were defeated by the Viaryagy (Vikings) in the 9th century; this led to the adoption of Christianity as the prevailing faith under Volodymyr the Great in 988/9 although Jews, Jewish proselytes, first Christians were present in Scythia long before that year. To begin with, it did not formally exclude the Western Church, though Kievan Rus was baptized by the Greeks and was the first "Russian" Christian entity in this immense area.
Ukrainia has ever since gone through dramatic historic events. No real borders, except of the left Russian left bank of Carpathia intermingling Ukrainians, Russyns (specific Slavic mountain tribes), Poles, Belorussians (White Russians), Hungarians, Romanians and Turks, Muslims, Tatars, Mongolians that recurrently invaded the steppes, threatening Europe from the East. Thus, the " kordon" - rope, borderland, mark" has always been insecure and imprecise.
In 1648, hetman Bohdan Khmelnytzky, leader of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, created a Zaporozhian entity viewed as a "ruin" by the Poles. A non-judgemental but realistic viewpoint of this situation shows how deeply the development of a real Ukrainian body has been affected by the absence of stable and defined unity or cohesion. The Jewish memory has kept the horrible pogroms carried by the Zaporozhian leader that murdered more than 700,000 Jews. Nonetheless, the pitiful relationships deviating from the Poles, the Russian Empire and "shapeless Ukraine" profoundly affected the harmony between Jews and Ukrainians. In 1789, when the French architects were called by Empress Catherine the Great to build Odessa and other "fake" towns, Jews and other "foreigners" were allowed to dwell in these Ukrainian and White Russian regions, on the borders with Galicia (Halych, Transcarpathia and Bukovina and the Eastern part of the present Ukrainian republic, Kharkiv). From that time till the first pogroms in 1880, the civil war (1917), World Wars I and II and the fall of communism, Jews have been present all over the Ukraine. Poor peddlers and rich merchants, filthy inhabitants of impoverished shtetlekh (ghettos), or mixed intelligentsia in Kiev and Odessa, undoubtedly enriched the local culture. From the marks of Poland and Lithuania, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire to the influence of the Ottoman rulers and the presence of French and German traders, the Jews brought their economic and scientific skills and, mostly participated in the growth of the local spirituality: "di Yiddishkayt", Yiddish tongue grew into authentic rabbinic Jewish creative lifestyles and ethics. It may be today a question whether true East-European Judaism has survived the dramas that broke down Jewish civilization in the Ukrainian regions as also the Gypsies, Armenians, Gagauzes and Tatars.
The Ukrainian language was subject to terrible rulings and forbidden for decades; still, peculiar how close it is to Church Slavonic. This "borderline" aspect is present in today's existence of more than 15 Eastern Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Latin, Armenian Churches, segmented in pieces as a result of local tragedies. It should be noted the presence of the "First Calvinists" who did influence Christian Eastern and Western Churches... On the other hand, Hassidism developed in the Ukrainian and neighbouring regions (Baal Shem Tov along with Satmar, Belz, Chabad and, curiously the parallel Ukrainian oriental spiritual movements inherited from the traditional Greek theology! (Saint Gregory Palamas). The Bratzlover Rebbe's tomb attracts at Uman daily crowds of faithful arriving from Israel and other parts of the world, though no one should ignore Baby-Yar's massacres.
15 years of an independent and now a "quaking, feverish" State in search of its identity! This means that Ukrainians - even those who had been deported to Siberia, Central Asia by Stalin or immigrated to the New World over the past 150 years - often mixed with Jews. Why did hatred and suspicion prevail over more than 2500 years, from the time of the Scythians and Ashkenaz? Not always at present. A lot of common traditions and know-how: cooking, architecture, music, spirituality, cosmetics, techniques... and a lot of Ukrainian newcomers in Israel.
Tragic destines of Jews among the Nations? Or, a true symbol of atonement in the Holy Land and Eretz Israel. Ukrainian is a major tongue in our backgrounds, even if people would doom it as "folkloric". It is real and "down-to-earth", pragmatic and now spread all over Mediterranean countries and islands.
Late Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky of L'viv (or Lemberg, Lwow, L'vov, Leopol) wrote letters to his Greek catholic clergy throughout World War II. He is the only "individual" (thus speaking in the name of the catholic and someway the Eastern Christian Churches) who, for the sake of God, dared imperil his life, alerting Himmler and Hitler about their obligation to stop the extermination of the Jews.
He warned his faithful about moral, ethics, human rights and dignity; he had, in a unique historic situation of full disorder and swaying borderline changes, to fight and face devilish treasons and structures. He never stepped down from his task. He helped the Russian Orthodox Church to arrive in Western Europe in the twenties (Metropolitan Evlogyi). When I read his "Trudy" ("Works") every night before going to bed, I think this man and his country share a lot with the "borderline" situation that smashes our society at the present. Only faith and profound confidence in God could motivate such a character, maybe unique and somehow "too similar" to a authentic Jewish believers... kind of real "A-shkuz - Ashkenazic Scythian Ukrainian Eastern rite, Latin born Polish, Galician Transylvanian Austro-Hungarian, beyond Habsburg and tzarist "man of God"... True faith makes believers like everybody else, just a little more...
If so many newcomers arrived from the Ukraine and still go there because of our cultural links, we may expect a lot from parallel developments conveyed by atonement.
I dedicated a lot of notes and articles to Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky. Born on 1865/07/29 in Prybylchi (Poland-Ukraine) he died on 1944/11/1 in L'viv. It is again and again possible to mention Prof. Gutman's (former Yad VaShem responsible) that this man of faith was beyond all standards and norms. He spent his life facing permanent aggression from many sides and still acted with wisdom and insights for the good of the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine, in the mainland and abroad. He also allowed Metropolitan Evlogyi and Archbishop Vladimir appointed by Late St. Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow to reach France and thus to develop the Eastern Orthodox Russian presence in the West.
He is also without contest an exceptional and outstanding personality in the way he worked to help the comprehension of the Jewish identity and culture. In 1916, he organized a great pilgrimage to the Holy Land and there read and spoke Hebrew fluently. In his diocese/eparchy he could spontaneously met in Yiddish and Hebrew with the Jewish communities. We know at the present that he vehemently protested against the deportation and extermination of the Jews to Hitler and Himmler by sending telexes. His famous "Nie Ubyi/Не убий - Thou shalt not kill" pastoral letter sent to all the churches and priests under his responsibility remains a unique act of courage ever shown to that extent by a member of the Christian clergy and high hierarchy. Kurt Lewin (the book has been recently translated into Ukrainian) described how Metroplitan Andrii Sheptytsky directly saved numerous Jews and children by hiding then and protecting them.
Paralyzed and living in a wheelchair in the 15 last years of his life, he could manage to control the Ukrainian Church in times of unbelievable turbulence, assisted by his brother, Fr. Klement and a huge network of connections that still let him isolated during the Communist regime and the second World War. The Poles accused him of having left the Roman Rite in order to restore the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church. He has been in contact with most of the actual thinkers (Metropolitan Evlogyi, Vladimir Soloviov) and helped creating place of encounter between Eastern and Western Churches to pave the way for a renewed dialogue, such as the Monastery at Chevetogne.
He las been an overall suspect: he had twice to manage the invasion of the German army that took control of the Ukraine (Western area) and then to combat the Nazis. He had to face the civil war in Ukraine and the Bolshevik Revolution, the rise and power of the communists, also twice in different circumstances. Stalin did not dare (and this is also unique) to touch the Greek Catholic clergy and waited till the 40th day of mourning was over t o seize and deport the clergy. He has been accused to be working for the French (world war I), the Nazis (world war II), the communists (in between and till his death). Strangely enough - though it is a typical habit, the archives that best depict his actions were to be found in the communist Soviet offices of the KGB.
I often mention his "trudy/труди - works" and would read his sermons or pastoral letters in Ukrainian in my church and on different occasions. This is a very simple matter: undoubtedly, Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky's attitudes and personality go far beyond the Ukrainian Church. It would be a terrible mistake, that sadly often shows at the moment to make an icon of example of Metropolitan Andrii as a Ukrainian nationalist. On the other hand, he was definitely aware - with the words, style and ideas of his time - that the Church that developed from Kiev and expanded in the Ukraine and the widespread Slavic areas has a specific universal role to play in the symphony of the Body of the Resurrected Lord. This is not the way people would consider his path at the present. It is suspicious because his character overgoes the standards of clergy hierarchy, in particular in such a troublesome region as Ukraine and the surrounding countries and cultures. Conflicts are easier to mention than unity as he tried to achieve some of his goals in times of incredible hardships.
In Israel, Metropolitan Andrii's actions and thoughts should be a model of reflecting on the situation of Israeli society. Social and inter-cultural, ethnic, spiritual and political problems show intriguing parallels with our building of a new and unexpected human reality with Jews, Arabs and other ethnic groups. In many ways, Metropolitan Sheptytsky has to deal with something that is really close to our turmoil or "pangs of birth". He answered to hatred by love and calling to ethics and moral dynamics with faith.
I definitely do not intend to present the following excerpts of the above mentioned book by some political or religious a-priori's. I would not give an opinion about the troublesome religious situation in the Ukraine in the present. It would by just full of pretence and would restrict and fence the possibility that such a personality allows to open up as new prospects. Furthermore, in the present context, this portion of the text is never referred to and is ignored. It shows that history in the region comes up and up again. It is also worth noting how Metropolitan Andrii finally takes a decision and keep on the line that underscores the spiritual benefits of the faithful, an aspect rarely expressed by the media nowadays.
Andrew proposed as Ukrainian Patriarch
"Among the many questions demanding the attention of the Ukrainian government (headed by Paul Skoropadsky in 1918-1919) the ecclesiastical organization for the country. What Catholic organization was left in Tsarist Ukraine was all Roman, except for the small Greek-Catholic group which was just beginning to organize at Kiev. Only later, under Petliura's government, was Ukraine represented at the Holy See, first by Count Michael Tyszkiewicz, the scion of an old Ukrainian family which had been Romanised like so many others, and then when the Count was sent to Paris as head of the Ukrainian delegation at the peace conference, by Father François-Xavier Bonne, a Belgian Redemptorist who was serving as a Greek-Catholic so as to help the Ukrainian immigrants in Canada. Father Bonne had come to Galicia and in Count Bobrinskoy's time was named eclesiastical administrator of the district of Ternopil - since he was a Belgian citizen, Bobrinskoy did not dare to expel him. For the moment, Skoropadsky was only concerned for the Orthodox Church.
There of the Russian Church, at the moment when the Bolsheviks were taking power in Moscow. were two parties. Those favourable to a future accord with Russia would wish an arrangement with Patriarch Tikhon (Beliavin) of Moscow, elected on 28 October (O.S.) 1917 by the National Council of the Russian Church, at a moment when the Bolsheviks were taking power in Moscow. In Kiev, this party recognized Metropiltan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), former Archbishop of Volyn, who had been one of the most active propagandists for Orthodoxy in Galicia; he was confirmed as Metropolitan of Kiev by Patriarch Tikhon. Those who demanded complete independence for Ukraine also had to demand ecclesiastical independence with a Ukrainian chief hierarch, according to the customs of the Orthodox Church. As the two groups did not come to any understanding, a council was called for 21 JUne 1918. The autocephalist party dreamed of establishing a Patriarchate at Kiev, like the one in Moscow, although Kiev had nver had a Patriarchate - historically Kiev had been a dependency of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
An attentive observer will realize that the autocephalist party was moved purely by nationalist considerations and thought very little of dogma. This group actually ofered the patriarchal throne to the one who most represented the Ukrainian world in his own person, Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky - who was in communion with the Holy See of Rome. If this proposal would have been accomplished it would have had vast consequences, when one considers the significance of ecclesiastical communion according to the Orthodox understanding. Ecclesiastical communion depends uniquely on the head of the particular Church, whom the metropolitans and bishops solemnly commemorate during the services. If this chief hierarch is Catholic, his whole Church is Catholic in view of his communion with the Pope. Since the only point of doctrine which matters for the great majority of the people, and even for the lower clergy, is the recognition of the Papal primacy of honour and jurisdiction, the election of Metropolitan Anderw would have reunited Ukraine to the Catholic Church in one moment. Although this prospect was dubious, one can understand how seriously he took it. However he had to set clearly in a letter to Archduke Wilhelm, the son of Archduke Charles Stephan, the Austrian candidate for an eventual Ukrainian throne. The draft of this letter was later found when the Poles searched the Metropolitan's palace in L'viv; the Poles published it with a photographic facsimile of the beginning and the essential section, in an effort to prove the Metropolitan's political intrigues. No résumé could replace the actual text:
"L'viv, 13 June 1918
I have learned htat one party of the general Synod of the Ukrainian Church which is to assemble one the 21st of this month (the letter is dated) is thinking of offering me the dignity of Ukrainian Patriarch. This initiative is both an expression of opposition to the election of Anthony as Metropolitan of Kiev and a concrete affirmation of the autocephaly, Although the reactionaries are mortally opposed to autocephaly, it nevertheless is the wish of the Ukrainians. The Hetman (Paul Skoropadsky at that time) has declared that if the Synod does not come to a decision on the matter, he will have to grant the autocephaly himself. Should the first eventuality come to pass, I shall inform Your Imerial Highness of the matter andof my eventual position in the affair. I could only accept an absolutely free election by a large majority which would thus have canonical value according to the principles of the Eastern Church. It goes without saying that such an election would by its very fact mean an acceptance of the Church Union. For the moment, the powers which I have received from Pope Pius X are sufficient. Naturally, I should also ask the assent of His Majesty.
"At L'viv it is difficult for me to have more exact information. Since people know that I have been in favour of this idea for a long time, they urge me to prepare the election by some propaganda. In principle I would not want to do this, and anyway there is not enough time. If Your Imperial Highness knows or should learn anything on this matter, I would be most grateful to have the information..."
One mus read this letter with great attention. It shows that the Metropolitan was favourable to the idea of the autonomy of the Church in Ukraine, which is completely in accord with the principles of the Eastern Church and to the current practice of the Catholic Church, with the proper understanding of the term "autonomy". In the seventeenth century, there was a proposal to erect a Patriarchate at Kiev, and Propaganda considered the matter; I have found (says Fr. Cyrille Korolevsky) the proof in the archives and the copy I made was in the Metropolitan's hands. He read everything I sent him with the greatest attention. On principle, he did not wish to do anything for his personal advantage. He saw a means to joint the whole of Ukraine to the Catholic Church, provided that the election was done by a large majority, which would have assured stability. of jurisdiction of the Pope, who would have had to confirm this election. And in the Metropolitan's view, such an offer would mean, in practice, the acceptance of church union, that is the recognition of the primacy of the jurisdiction of the Pope, who would have had to confirm this election. No Catholic bishop in the Metropolitan's position could have acted more appropriately and more prudently.
As to Skoropadsky's conviction that he himself could grant the autocephaly, no one who knows Orthodox practice will be surprised, because for the Orthodox Church the supreme authority after Christ - Who is no longer on earth - is the Ecumenical Council, but such a Councilsince 787 (the Orthodox do not consider the council has not been held of 869 which condemned Photius ecumenical). The Romanian Patriarchate was founded on 4 February 1925 by the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church and received legal sanction from the Kingdom of Romania on 12 February of that year. Only afterwards was the assent of the Patriarchate of Constantinople requested - Constantinople did not refuse. It was the same for the Bulgarians, although in that case Constantinople took longer to concede. According to the principles of the Orthodox Church, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has a primacy of honour, but no primacy of jurisdiction.
But back to Kiev. The party opposed to a complete break with Russia gained the upper hand so the idea of autocephaly for the Church of Kiev was abandoned by the Council. Was the whole idea viable? Certainly not: Kyr Andrew (Sheptytsky) would have had the greatest difficulties to convince the bishops to accept the primacy of the Pope, let alone the other controverted dogmas, and there would eventually have been an internal schism."
The Polish-Russian armistice was signed on 11 October and ratified by the Polish Diet on the 23rd. The definite treaty was made on 18 March 1921".
Excerpts from: Cyril Korolevsky: Metropolitan Andrew (1865-1944), translated and revised by Serge Keleher, L'viv 1993, pp. 213-217). The original book by Fr. Cyrille Korolevsky - born Jean-François Charon at Caen (France). His account in French is difficult to read because of the many mistakes in French. He was a brilliant priest and had spent most of his life in th service of the Eastern Churches. His testimony gives a unique description of the multi-faceted and numerous problems that Metropolitan had to face during his long pastoral service of the Greek-Catholic Church in the Ukraine and abroad, in particular in North and South America. He was very capable and acute. His testimony is indeed essential at the present because his had envisioned the many developments that show up at the present in a very troublesome situation. Nonetheless, being a French by birth and having open-minded views and prospects on the Eastern Middle-Eastern and Slavic Churches, he describes the facts with much distance that a local specialist would hardly reach. His book "Métropolite André Szeptyckyj, 1865-1944 - was published in Rome in 1964 in "Працi Украïнського Богословського Наукового Товариства - Opera Theologicae Societatis Scientificae Ucrainorum - vol. XVI-XVII with a preface by Cardinal Eugène Tisserant, one of the greatest specialist of Eastern Churches.
Incidentally, it should be noted that Cardinal E. Tisserant, Prefect of the Oriental Churches, pleaded the cause of the first Hebrew-praying four Roman Catholic priests who celebrated in the language in 1952; he had stressed that the Chaldean Oriental rite was the most adequate, but the Western origin of the concerned clergy drove it to full Latinization. N.B. "Hebrew in the Church of Jerusalem" has been in use by the blessing of a remarkable translation by Fr. Levinson of the Divine Liturgy by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow in 1852, i.e. before the restoration of the Patriarchate of Moscow.I use this text because of its official recognition, validity and real beauty.
It should be noted that the above mentioned quotation from a specific situation confronted by late Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky should correctly be understood. In his quotation and comments, Fr. Cyril Korolevsky draw the attention of the readers to very special points. These are very parallel to the situation that the Eastern Orthodox Church is embattled with at the present in Ukraine. The excerpts are followed by a clairvoyant description of the dangers that Ukraine can both generate and be obliged to affront from the part of the Poles, the Central European Powers and Russia. Interestingly "za kordonu = at the frontier, on the rope of the border that has always been difficult to determine". As if the "cord", also maybe mostly in a spiritual connection would imply the emergence of a lot of unexpected and "imperiling" factors. We should also keep in mind that the history of the Church of the Rus' of Kiev and then Moscow has been tragic over the centuries. It has been deeply assaulted by invaders coming from Asia (Mongols, Tatars) and from the West (Poland, Lithuania).
Nonetheless, Eastern Orthodox Churches of the Rus' have also been also influenced by the Westerners, both the Latins and the Protestants that introduced special habits that were not present in the Greek tradition (Holy Confession).
This text should be measured adequately. It shows one or two invariants and also refers to constant traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Churches that should normally be respected by the Oriental Churches united to Rome. A last remark that is very rarely mentioned. The Second Council of Vatican was adopted by the Roman Church and its Oriental components, provided that the Patriarchs heading the Oriental Churches would confirm and ratify the decision upon their return to their local ecclesiastical areas. This had not been done. They never convoked the concerned Synods for different reasons. Some Churches - like the Greek-Catholics/Melkites - claim to adopt the decisions of the Council with the provision that the Eastern Orthodox Churches would also join in such decisions, which can hardly be the case for the moment. It is evident that the Roman clergy and faithful are not directly concerned or aware of this pending situation.
The Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine (Акт проголошення незалежності України) was passed on August 24, 1991 by the Ukrainian Parliament and widely confirmed by the referendum dated December 1, 1991 (90% of the voters). This happened 18 years ago and the National Day will take place on forthcoming Monday 24th of August 2009.
With regard to the exceptional personality of Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky and the "above any sort of nationalism" position that he adopted, this text, as many others readily quoted in other notes and articles would bring some light on how to go ahead with God's assistance.
av aleksandr [Winogradsky Frenkel]
August 19/6, 2009 - 29 deAv 5769 - כ"ט דאב תשס"ט