Religious calendar for the upcoming week This Sunday we celebrate the Sunday of Holy Fathers of First Council of Nicaea. The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325. This first ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom. It was presided by Hosius of Corduba, a bishop from the West and probably a Papal delegate. Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the nature of the Son of God and his relationship to God the Father, the construction of the first part of the Creed of Nicaea, establishing uniform observance of the date of Easter, and promulgation of early canon law. For more you can read here.
Traditional readings for this Sunday’s Epistle are Acts 20:16-18, 28-36 and Gospel are John 17:1-13 (also available in Ukrainian).
A message from Fr. Mykola Dovzhuk
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
Many of us often find ourselves to be in a state of depression. The reasons may be our basic human character and personality, the lack of fulfillment of our hopes and wishes and sometimes our illnesses or life's catastrophes.
We are often like that young person who having broken the law finds himself in the courtroom. Our weakened will inclines us to evil, but our conscience draws us to good. Our conscience is the voice of our immortal soul which reflects the Divine and that is why the soul calls us to that which is good, beautiful and the fulfillment of God's laws.
The Sunday of the Holy Fathers brings to our minds the image of Jesus Christ who leaves this earth having completely fulfilled the will of the Heavenly Father. The hour came and the act of saving the human race has been accomplished. Now Christ awaits the glorification of His Father. Christ affirms that: "Now at last they know that all You have given me comes indeed from You, for I have given them the teaching You gave to me, and they have truly accepted this, that I came from You, and have believed that it was You Who sent me" (John 17: 7-8). "But now I am coming to You. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely" (John 17: 14).
The Prayer of Jesus to His Heavenly Father provides us with a magnificent theological lesson, which completely clarifies the Person of Christ and His act of salvation in the redemption of the human race.
Our joy and contentment will be complete when we, in imitation of Jesus Christ, submit ourselves completely to the will of our Heavenly Father and follow His footsteps. The knowledge of God's will becomes more apparent as we daily pray: “Lord, not my will but Yours be done!”
The fathers of the Nicea-Constantinopolitan Creed gave us the basic and fundamental tenets of our faith. Let us follow their directives! Amen.
Fr. Mykola Dovzhuk
Call for volunteers Ukrainian American Cultural Club of Houston is looking for volunteers to organize a carpool trip from Houston to a Texas Folklife Festival in San-Antonio on June 13-14, 2015. Ukrainians from San-Antonio and Ukrainians from Dallas will be performing at the Festival on both days: June 13th and June 14th. Unfortunately, none of the current UACCH Board Members will be available to organize this trip. If you would like to contribute and make this happen, please contact UACCH at email@example.com.
A note from Ukrainian Women's League Our local branch of Soyuz Ukrainok had a successful campaign of sending birthday wishes to Nadiya Savchenko by mailing at least 45 cards to her. Nadiya Savchenko celebrated her 34th birthday on May 11th in prison. We can only hope that the cards we mailed were passed on to her and gave her some indication that Ukrainians around the world have not forgotten her. We also requested that last week’s Divine Liturgy (May 10th) and prayer be dedicated to Nadiya.
This Sunday, May 17th, after the Divine Liturgy at Pokrova Church, we will have our monthly meeting during which we hope to make plans for Summer months events. The meeting will be held at noon in the small building next to the priest’s residency.
UNWLA Branch #118 – Houston group of Soyuz Ukrainok
Upcoming events On Saturday, May 30th, Alina Uddin, Ukrainian-born pianist is co-hosting a Piano Recital: “A Journey to the Solitude”. Program includes works of Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Scriabin. Tickets are $20. Concert starts at 7:30pm at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston, 1900 Bering Dr., Houston, Texas 77057.
On Sunday, May 31st, 12PM to 3PM Ridna Shkola Ukrainian School of Houston will celebrate Graduation Day with their most senior students by putting a special program for parents. Sports activities will follow (weather permitting). Beginning after the Liturgy (Liturgy starts at 10:00 a.m.) in the Pokrova Parish Hall and grounds, 9100 Meadowshire St, Houston, Texas 77037.
On Sunday, June 7th, join us for "Mother's Day/Father's Day Spaghetti Luncheon and FUNdraiser" to be held at Pokrova Parish Hall between at 12:00pm and 4:00 pm (9100 Meadowshire St, Houston, Texas 77037). We will celebrate all the Mothers and Fathers of our Ukrainian Community, enjoy a delicious Italian Spaghetti Lunch, dessert, and wine. Proceeds will go for Pokrova maintenance.
Review of religious news On May 12, the Holy Synod of UOC-KP heard a statement by the UAOC Bishops' council on the association of the UAOC with the UOC KP into one church. In the Statement the UAOC officially declared its desire to start a real process of association with the UOC-KP and submitted a proposal to keep its historical name of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the UAOC dioceses and rural deans’ districts.
A new report, prepared by the Center for Civil Liberties, titled “When God Becomes The Weapon”, provides a detailed, unsettling first-hand account of religiously motivated persecution in rebel-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine. Human rights activists published evidences of religious persecution in the occupied Donbas.
Bishops of the UOC (MP) remained seated when President Poroshenko was reading names of heroes of Ukraine. The representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) with their Primate Onufriy did not rise at the solemn session of Ukraine’s Parliament as President Petro Poroshenko read aloud the names of the Heroes of Ukraine, who received the title for their actions during the Anti-Terrorist Operations.
Bishops of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches of Lviv region appealed to residents of Lviv region on May 8, the Day of Memory and Reconciliation. This Galnet reported in the press service of the department staff Lviv Regional State Administration. “Today, from the depth of our hearts we urge all of you, dear brothers and sisters, to become the builders of the Kingdom of peace. Believe,it’s possible to do although difficult. Let us recall the words of Christ: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,” and think how happy we are that so many of God's children have been born to date- our soldiers, volunteers, who have become the keepers of our peace, protecting lives and integrity of our state.”
Review of Ukrainian news Bombings in Odesa continued this week. One bomb blasted at a railway bridge a couple of minutes before scheduled passing of a commuter train. The train was stopped by promptly arriving security patrol and nobody was injured. If not the patrol, however, a disaster would be imminent as about 2 feet of a rail was destroyed by the blast. Another bomb blasted on one of Odesa’s streets during nighttime. Again, no one was harmed. According to the SBU’s spokesman, the main aim of the bombings is to increase the atmosphere of tension and unsafety in the city. On Friday SBU also defused a bomb under a railroad bridge in Dnipropetrovsk region.
According to information from the Analysis Center of The National Security and Defense Council (NSDC), from 05/09/2015 to 05/15/2015, separatist forces in Donbas shelled the ATO forces positions and civilian objects in the vicinity of Shchastya, Stanytsia Luhanska, Horlivka, and the Donetsk Airport. Besides actively using light weapons, pro-Russian forces are using weapon systems that, by the Minsk agreements, were supposed to be withdrawn from the demarcation line. Kremlin-backed separatists used 82-mm and 120-mm mortars, 122-mm artillery, and armored vehicles in attacks and armed provocations. Additionally, heavy anti-personnel and anti-tank grenade launchers, heavy machine guns, and anti-aircraft guns (ZU-23-2) were used. As a result of these attacks and mine explosions, 24 soldiers were wounded and 3 were killed. Also, 4 civilians were injured, including two children, 7 and 13 years old.
Ukraine’s Parliament approved a bill allowing foreigners to serve in the Ukrainian army. Also Ukrainian President signed into law the “decomunisation bill” passed by the Parliament in April. Poroshenko did this on the very last day before the bill would be “expired” and returned back to the Parliament. Kyiv City Council ruled to remove all Lenin and hammer and sickle images from buildings in Kyiv.
Amnesty International reports that there are at least five witnesses of Arseny Pavlov, better known as Motorola, killing Ukrainian prisoner of war Ihor Branovytsky. Last month Pavlov, a Russian citizen, bragged in a phone interview with a Kyiv Post correspondent that he killed 15 Ukrainian prisoners of war. Also another leader of so called DNR is wanted by Moscow police on fraud allegations. The note was removed from Moscow police website after it was publicized by Ukrainian journalists.
Dmitri Dinze, a lawyer of Oleg Setsov, announced this week that Sentsov was tortured in a Russian prison in the attempt to force him to plead guilty. So far Russian prosecutors weren't able to break Sentsov and he continues to deny all allegations. Detention of another Ukrainian activist, Oleksandr Kolchenko, was prolonged by two month. Ukrainian and Russian activists celebrated the birthday of Nadiya Sachenko by holding Ukrainian flags and banners across the street from the prison where Savchenko is held. Russian police reacted by arresting indiscriminately people present at the rally, including journalists. Rallies in Savchenko’s support were held in other Russian cities and around the world. Savchenko is no longer on hunger strike. Also, her lawyer Mark Feygin reported that Russia currently holds about 30 Ukrainian prisoners. One of them, Mykola Karpiuk, is probably already dead. Oleksandr Kostenko, a EuroMaidan activist, was sentenced to four years in prison by a Simferopol court for throwing a rock at Berkut riot police officer during EuroMaidan in Kyiv. Apart from clear jurisdiction issues, Kolchenko's case is also peculiar since he was a medic during EuroMaidan protests and apparently did not participate in acts of violence.
US Secretary of State John Kerry had visited Putin in Sochi, Russia. He later called Ukrainian President Poroshenko to discuss his visit. Reporting on this visit The New York Times called it “an acknowledgment that Russia and its leader are simply too important to ignore.”
Russian opposition had finally released the report “Putin. War.” The report was mostly prepared by Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov who was slaughtered in Moscow, across the street from the Kremlin, in March of this year. The report is an interesting read and can be found in Russian here. English translation is going to be released on May 28th. While some places of the report might appear to Ukrainian readers as great understatements, it is important to appreciate that the report is released in the atmosphere of harsh crackdown on Russia’s opposition and also that the authors provided only the facts which they can support by proofs. We do not provide a summary of the report here since this job was done by all major news outlets: click on the links for BBC, Ukraine’s Unian, Reuters, The Guardian, and (the best one) Kyiv Post. Also Reuters published a report about Russian soldiers quitting army service over the conflict in Ukraine. According to the report, one of the reasons for Buryat soldiers (Siberian ethnic group living about 4,500 km from Ukraine) fighting near Debaltseve this winter, is that soldiers from Central Russia, the main Russian force during the Summer campaign, are now reluctant to go to Ukraine. Area covered by forest fires in Buryatia, Russia, increased 11 times this week.
In the attempt to deter Russian submarines a special subsurface sonar was installed in waters just outside of Stockholm. The system is sending out the Morse code “This way if you are gay” and features large dancing male figure. You can find more information about Russia’s military activity across the globe here.
Springer, one of the world's largest publishers of scientific journals and books, canceled subscription to about one fifth of Russian research institutions. The decision was made after Russian partners were unable to pay 830,000 euro debt. Japan supplied 348 Toyota Priuses to Ukrainian police as a payment for carbon emission quotes.
Stepan Bandera’s gravestone in Munich, Germany (last week we mistakenly stated that Bandera is buried in Paris), was vandalized this week as well.
Past week in Ukrainian history This week we break chronological order of this section to start with May 13, 1933: the day when Mykola Khvylovy, one the most prominent leaders of Ukrainian cultural Renaissance of 1920s, took his own life. Khvylovy committed suicide amid increasing persecution of Ukrainian intellectuals by Soviet regime. However, it was not clear back then that this persecution aims at complete incineration. Khvylovy apparently had understood that. In April 1933, he visits Ukrainian countryside. Usually so peaceful and beautiful, that year it was stricken by famine: Holodomor was underway. As it is described by Arkady Lubchenko in the short autobiographical story “His secret”, Khvylovy concluded that this famine was artificially organized: “...я знову гайну проти течіїї. Я ще раз скажу одну ‘єресь’ і прощу в неї повірити. Голод - явище свідомо організоване. Голод і розруха - хитрий маневр, щоб одним заходом упоратися з дуже небезпечною українською проблемою. Зрозумійте мене, будьте на часинку ‘єретиками’. Колізія тільки починається.” [Любченко А., Вибрані твори, Смолоскип 1999, ст. 432] Now we know that Khvylovy’s conclusion was right on the spot. We can appreciate it even better amid all the “controversy” surrounding the war in Ukraine’s East and annexation of Crimea. Cover-up, disinformation, and propaganda of 1933 was much more difficult to penetrate. For instance, “The New York Times” back then was not impressed. For more information about all this we send you to Oksana Zabuzhko’s lecture “The flight of Icarus or Antey’s Death: Introduction to the history of Ukrainian suicide.”
Two Ukrainian Hetmans were born this week: Petro Doroshenko (in 1698) and Pavlo Skoropadskyi (in 1873). Both are notable for their military campaigns against Moscow. Also this week were born Vasyl Stefanyk, a world famous Ukrainian writer, Mykola Kostomarov, a prominent Ukrainian historian and a founder of Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius, and Panas Myrny, a prominent Ukrainian writer. Works of both Stefanyk and Myrny are now included in Ukrainian school curriculum. English translation of Stefanyk’s prose can be found here. On Kostomarov we suggest you to read a very interesting novel by Viktor Petrov (Domontovych) “Alina and Kostomarov” available in Ukrainian here.
May 11th is notable for two reasons: in 1907 Mykhailo Hrushevsky created the Ukrainian Scientific Society, while in 1944, a day before Crimean peninsula was completely freed from German troops, USSR’s State Defense Committee, headed by Stalin, ordered deportation of Crimean Tatars from Crimea to USSR’s East (mostly to Uzbekistan). Also this week in 1157 Yuri Dolgorukiy, who is now regarded as a founder of Moscow, was poisoned and died in Kyiv.