Praying With a Mask

Praying with a mask

January 4, 2021

2020 has been a devastating year. Covid-19 has caused immeasurable harm, taking the lives of millions of people, creating unprecedented long-term illnesses, and is responsible for significant shifts in our emotional and mental states, not to mention uprooting our daily routines in life. To be sure it has also taken a toll on our spiritual lives. Many civic jurisdictions around the world have prohibited or limited our ability to gather for community worship, sing at divine services, and even caused significant, sometimes disconcerting discussion on how Holy Communion is to be administered. (more…)

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I am a Dandelion

I am a dandelion

August 9, 2020

Petro Partykevich

My grandfather Petro came to the United States in 1958 from Poland. As an officer in the Russian Imperial Army, he fought against the German forces until 1917. That year, during the revolutions in the Russian Empire, a Ukrainian independence movement began which culminated in the declaration of an independent Ukraine in 1918.  My grandfather immediately joined the Ukrainian armed forces which fought against the Bolshevik Red Army. At the end of that war, many officers, soldiers, and their families end up in Poland where in displaced persons camps, they formed communities, churches, theatrical groups, and schools.[1] When my father and his sister were able to bring his parents from Poland to the United States, where they had settled after World War II, the family was finally united.

My grandfather, a staunch Ukrainian patriot and faithful Orthodox Christian, was happy that although in “exile”, he was able to be with his family, speak his own language freely, as well as worship God without governmental interference. In America, he liked many things, the beautiful parks where he could walk his dog, brick houses, and an abundance of products in the stores. (more…)

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Without Your Wound, Where Would Your Power Be?

Without your wound, where would your power be?

July 26, 2020

The Gospel passage about the paralytic being healed at the Pool of Bethesda has always perplexed me. (John Chapter 5). A quick reading of this passage would indicate that there is a connection between sinning and disease or prolonged illness. As someone who witnessed the debilitating illness of Alzheimer’s that my mother suffered with for over a decade, I find it unfathomable to believe that there was causation between her sinfulness and her long infirmity. She was robbed of memories and speech, recognition of loved ones and, basic human dignity. (more…)

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What is the Cost of Lies?

What is the Cost of Lives?

July 8, 2020

On Saturday, April 26, 1986, Lazarus Saturday was observed in the Orthodox Church. The commemoration of the raising of Lazarus (John 11) is celebrated on the day before Palm Sunday, viewed theologically as a prequel to the resurrection of Christ, eight days later. On that same day, in Ukraine, instead of celebration, there was disaster, as a nuclear reactor exploded in Chornobyl (in Russian, Chernobyl). The catastrophe is viewed as the worst nuclear disaster in human history, with an unknown number of deaths, physical tragedy, and life-long consequences. (more…)

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A Logical Family

A Logical Family

January 7, 2018

A few years ago my husband and I were at a social gathering when someone commented to me that they thought things were getting better for gay people. I was a bit stunned by his comment, not knowing if to pity him for his ignorance or admire his “the glass is half full” optimism. I have always been a “justice delayed is justice denied” kind of guy, but I am also a realist, understanding that societal and government changes do not happen as rapidly as some of us would like. At the time he made the remark, I was still unable to marry my “partner” after more than a decade of living together.  LGBT individuals in this country could and can still be denied employment and housing based on their sexual orientation, and in other parts of the world gay people were, and are, publically debased and tortured with the sanction of state and religious authority.  And yet in spite of all of this, the white, educated, heterosexual male at the social gathering believed he was right in saying to me “things are getting better.” This man knew of no ostracization from his family for wanting to marry someone of the opposite sex and raising a family, he never lost employment for being straight, he would never know ridicule in this or any other society in the world for being a heterosexual. These are realities that almost every LGBT person and couple has experienced even in the most enlightened of societies. From micro aggressions in an accepting workplace to unfathomable persecution,[1] LGBT individuals struggle to be accepted and loved by their families, their own flesh and blood. Because of this, LGBT individuals are forced to create our own families where we will know acceptance, support, and most of all, love. These are families where we do not have to defend who we are or justify those we have chosen to spend our lives with. These are our adopted or logical families. (more…)

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You Are My Son

You are my son.

September 3, 2017

About six months ago my mother passed away. For those who have lost a parent, you know that the grieving process can take longer than expected. It certainly has taken me quite a while and I am still definitely in the process. There is a holy tradition in the Orthodox Church to commemorate the deceased during a church memorial service, three days, forty days, and one year after their death. These “milestones” are observed in order, according to Orthodox theology, to give rest to the soul of the deceased. They also serve another important purpose and that is to give much needed solace to the family and friends whose loved one has passed. (more…)

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Building A Bridge

Building A Bridge

August 20, 2017

An Orthodox Christian reviews Building a Bridge – How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity by Father James Martin SJ.

Orthodox Christians are supposed to be highly suspicious of anything written or preached by Catholic clergy, and that holds doubly true for anything writer or preached by Jesuits. Thankfully, I am not one of those Orthodox Christians otherwise I would have never read the charismatic book Building a Bridge – How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity by Father James Martin SJ. While some reviewers have criticized Father Martin for presenting a positive view of LGBT individuals, others believe that he did not go far enough in his support for full inclusion of the LGBT Catholics in the Church. Orthodox Christians who are LGBT could only dream of one of our own priests writing such a pastorally supportive and spiritually uplifting work. If Father Martin were an Orthodox priest writing in glowing support of LGBT individuals, he would be suspended and his bishop would demand that he issue an immediate retraction, recant his words and ideas, and even offer penance for his actions. If he would not comply, I have no doubt that such an Orthodox priest would be defrocked. The fact that Father James still enjoys the support of many of his brother priests, let alone his superiors, is for this Orthodox Christian, is nothing short of a minor miracle. (more…)

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What is life? What is love?

What is life? What is love?

October 23, 2016

Icon of Tenderness
Icon of Tenderness

One of the experiences that has changed my perspective on life has been my frequent visits to the nursing home where my mother has lived for the last 10 years. During these years, I have become friendly not only with the staff that cares for my mom, but have come to know many of the residents as well. I have seen and shared their better days as well as their weaker days. At this particular nursing home, there are residents who are younger with various disabilities as well as the elderly with innumerable cognitive and physical impairments. Since I see many of these residents at least once a week, I try to engage them in conversation.

One woman, who has been my mother’s roommate for a few years, is completely bedridden and has little control over many parts of her body, and yet has a brilliant mind and a well-developed sense of humor. I have enjoyed numerous lengthy conversations with her on a myriad of topics, including the two “forbidden” ones: politics and religion. Another resident wanders aimlessly through the hallways of the home, mumbling to herself and yet stops to give me a hug every time she sees me visiting with my mother. Another much younger resident is unable to move most of the muscles in her body, but revels in her ability to tell a joke and laugh out loudly. (more…)

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Conclusions Without the Facts

Conclusions Without the Facts

May 25, 2016

Years ago, afteMother of Compassionr completing my PhD in history, I was asked by the jurisdiction to which I belonged, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, to write a detailed history of the Ukrainian Church in the USA. A significant number of Ukrainians began arriving in the United States and Canada before World War I, many seeking economic advancement and stability in a new world.  Several of these were temporary immigrants, fully intending to return to Ukraine to reunite with their families.  The First World War changed that narrative for many. Small communities were created in several areas: the mining towns of Pennsylvania, the big cities of New York and Chicago that offered factory employment, as well as the rich farming lands of the Midwest. Naturally many of the first community centers that Ukrainians created in the new world were churches, where they could gather for divine services offered in a language and setting that was familiar and welcoming to them. From these significant numbers a Ukrainian Orthodox diocese was created, with several parishes.[1] This is a fascinating history that demands a thorough and scholarly study. (more…)

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The First Duty of Love is to Listen

The First Duty of Love is to Listen

April 3, 2016

In memory of Archimandrite Athanasy

Father AthanasyA very special priest died a few months ago. He was a priest who served as my spiritual father for many years. Archimandrite Athanasy, or simply Father “Ath” as many of his spiritual children called him, was a kind and gentle soul, who understood firsthand how difficult life can be, which made him a very compassionate person. Perhaps because he himself had a difficult life, full of illness and uncertainty, Father Athanasy understood the deep necessity for love, kindness, hope, joy and forgiveness in all people. He was a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, and served in a few parishes in the US, Haiti as well as in the Russian convents in Jerusalem. He served in the most exalted of places, Jerusalem, and part of the forgotten world which is Haiti. (more…)

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