With great joy today I received in the mail a copy of the Orthodox Word. One of the subjects in this issue is His Beatitude Met. Onuphry of Ukraine. I will start by encouraging anyone reading this to get a copy and read it, here is a link to the digital copy (hard copies may also be bought, I prefer hard copies). The issue is well worth the purchase as it also contains such articles: “Modern Saints and Elders on Evolutionism,” and a letter from St. Ignatius Brianchaninov.
The article about Met. Onuphry brings more and much-needed light on the ongoing situation in Ukraine.
While I was in Ukraine in 2019 I had the very unexpected joy of meeting His Beatitude. It was completely brought about by God’s grace. I have never desired to write about this because I carry it around as a very dear spiritual experience. I fear proclaiming the details at large will diminish its beautiful warmth, which I experience when I recall the meeting.
Suffice to say, that the meeting although brief was full of spiritual light and grace. Having read the article in the Orthodox Word, I will simply add my personal experience that indeed one can sense the grace of God in Met. Onuphry. “A light on a hill cannot be hidden” and Vladyka shines forth with the grace and love of God.
Met. Onuphry’s care and concern are for His flock and the Kingdom of heaven. He is, in our times, a true shepherd of Christ’s flock. I will reiterate, get the article and read it!
In some sense, the struggle in Ukraine is about “world orthodoxy,” that is, “orthodoxy” consumed with the power and things of this fallen world and True Orthodoxy, which seeks to heal and save mankind and make of him a citizen of the Heavenlies.
The schismatics under the protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (EP) are clear examples and manifestations of this false spirit of “world orthodoxy.” The long-suffering faithful Orthodox in Ukraine manifest the longing of true Orthodoxy; their hope is not in a government power of this world, indeed they are pressed hard by their own government and other foreign governments (such as the U.S. State Department).
I will reiterate, the situation in Ukraine is of great importance to Orthodox everywhere. It is neither simply something that is happening in some distant land (from America), nor is it some “political” squabble between Moscow and Constantinople. It is a direct spiritual attack on the very nature of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I’m baffled by the general insouciance with which American Orthodoxy seems, at times, to treat the problem. Will we have “unity” while we turn a lazy eye to the outright attack on true Christian unity that is transpiring in Ukraine? Are schismatics now our “brethren?” Can we, as it were, give a token kiss on the cheek to the faithful of Ukraine and then simultaneously entertain their persecutors? Why does it seem that some desire to play both sides, in word supporting Met. Onuphry and the faithful under Him, while also buddying up to those who are the main supporters and motivators of the schismatics and their desecration of Holy Orthodoxy (such as those who fly Epiphany – leader of the schismatics – to America and give him awards and praise). How may we speak of “strengthening relationship and ties” while a wound is gaping in the Church? Will we be healthy while the Body of Christ suffers?
How can we build true unity with certain Churches that are the main proponents of the violent disunity with which the Church in Ukraine is being attacked? (I’m speaking of the GOA.)
The Scriptures are clear, “If one member suffers, all suffer together, if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor. 12:26). How long would “unity” built at the expense of our suffering brethren in Ukraine last in America? The Body of Christ is being torn and, it seems, most (in America) want to act like nothing much is happening. True unity can only be built by standing steadfast with our faithful brothers and sisters in Ukraine. They are suffering and we should suffer with them. That is we should long for healing and should oppose the anti-Christian actions that are being perpetrated by some against the Church in Ukraine (and thus the whole Catholic Church).
What kind of “unity” will be built at the price of suffering members? It will not be true Christian unity.
Unity can only be built on Jesus Christ and Orthodox Truth.
The situation in Ukraine is the tragic result of a shift in Orthodox Ethos. One centered around leadership in the Church. The only head of the Church is Jesus Christ. Rephrasing an observation made in the Orthodox Word article (originally made regarding Philaret), one may posit that a major issue is the unsound desire of the EP to be a “first without equals,” and thus to rephrase, “Bartholomew has the desire to become the head of the entire church … His desire to head the Church cannot be a reason to divide the Church. It’s the Body of Christ. It can’t be divided by human politics.” Indeed, ultimately the truth and the unity of the Body of Christ will remain, either we will remain with it or we will follow the novel and innovative path.
Let us stand in heart, mind, soul, and spirit; in prayer and fasting, with His Beatitude Met. Onuphry and the long-suffering faithful Orthodox in Ukraine.
“We must preserve the purity of the Holy Orthodox Faith. But the path we are being offered today is fraught with peril, for it proposes many limitations; there is a danger of losing the purity of the Faith. If this occurs, then we will be worthless as Christians. We will become spiritual enemies to our own selves, to our land, and to our people. Pure Faith helps to properly organize our lives on earth and attain salvation in heaven; it invokes Divine blessings on earth.
Dear brothers and sisters, strive to preserve our Faith, don’t exchange it for temporary pleasures, but remain true to Christ – and then His grace will not let you lose your way in the darkness of today’s temptations” Met. Onuphury of Ukraine.
Though the storm will rage, darkness will never overcome the Light! Khristos Nika!