Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ukraine Day 7

Today was going to be a good day no matter what. The opportunity to serve Liturgy at the great Kiev Caves Lavra. It is just silly to say that would not be a great day. The plan was for Metropolitan Phillip and Archbishop Peter to lead the Liturgy at the Dormition Cathedral of the Lavra, but the Metropolitan got sick unfortunately, and so Archbishop Peter ended up as the main celebrant at this historically significant cathedral. Pictures of that part of the day can be found HERE.

HERE is a little video I made of a couple of pro Subdeacons (pro in that they vest bishops multiple times per week) putting the Great Omophorion on Archbishop Peter. This may be helpful for those that don't have the opportunity to vest the bishop often, but need to do so occasionally. Most of the hierarchal vestments are not too tough, but that Great Omophorion is a real mystery most times. I hope this helps some of you who are reading this.

After a nice meal at the brotherhood trapeza we rested a bit, did some shopping for priests and parishes, and then were given a guided tour of both the near and the far caves by Archimandrite Barnabas (the guest master of the monastery). Those two designations have to do with how close each set of those caves is to the Dormition Cathedral, by the way. The lighting was bad and I didn't think I would get any good pictures but I snapped a few just in case. I should have done many more, since I was able to edit the things so that they came out decently. Sorry now that I didn't. So I will just have to return another time to do this. :) Perhaps we will arrange a parish pilgrimage here if Archbishop Peter blesses. This is one of those places that every Orthodox Christian should visit once in his or her lifetime. Jerusalem and here. The holy fathers resting in the caves in their incorrupt relics are a real spiritual inspiration. So worth the trip if there is any way you can make it. The pictures I took are of the New Martyr Metropolitan Vladimir. I did that because the day of his commemoration and martyrdom is the same as my name's day. I had the great honor to serve Liturgy on an antimins sanctified by him as Metropolitan of Kiev at Holy Trinity monastery the last year we lived there (when I was a newly-ordained priest). I will never forget that. And so when this opportunity came up I had to take the pictures. Here are the few other pictures we have of the day (some from Liturgy, some from the tour):

Tomorrow Archbishop Peter and Fr. Victor head on to Pochaev. I won't get to make that part of the trip as I need to return to Michigan on Tuesday to resume our parish and seminary work. Vladyka and Fr. Victor will return to the states on Saturday.

Please pray for us all as we travel. Thanks for following the blog during these days. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your interest. Please continue to pray for us - even when we are not travelling.

Fr. Gregory

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Day 7 - Coming Soon

Great day today! BUT - we are waiting on pics from the seminarians who took them so we'll wait on posting. Hopefully on Monday sometime. More to come soon!

Ukraine Day 6

Today we left the Poltava diocese and headed for Kiev. We traveled through the Cherkavskaya province and stopped at the Zolotonoshnaya convent. St. Sophrony of Irkutsk built the Transfiguration cathedral here before he went to Siberia. We were met by the Assistant Abbess (at the very end the bishops had an opportunity to visit the very ill Abbess), and later joined by Bishop John, who is the vicar bishop of the Cherkavskaya diocese. Pictures from the monastery are below, with a video of Archbishop Peter saying a few words about St. John of Shanghai & San Francisco HERE, and a short video of the sisters bidding Vladyka goodbye HERE.

In addition to the monastery proper (which is quite impressive, with more than 100 sisters) we visited the Skete of St. John the Theologian, which houses another 15 sisters or so. This is new construction which is quite impressive – and not that rare. In almost all the convents and monasteries we visited there was some sort of new construction or restoration going on. The physical wound of the Soviet period is still present on some level, although one is happy to see that the spiritual would is beginning to be healed. To say that it is “healed” is premature and no one here would argue that. Things are much better, but a large part of the population still remains unchurched, and a part is still hostile to faith. Thus, we can say unequivicatlly that much has been done, but there is even more to do. And everywhere we go they ask our prayers that their work will be fruitful and continue long after this generation has passed. And so I think it is really encumbant upon us to pray – to ask the Lord to help us to sanctify our American land, but also that the lands that suffered under the Communist yoke continue to move towards sanctifying their lands also. Pictures from the visit to the Skete are here:

After the skete we moved towards Kiev in a more focused way. There were no more stops, although there were churches we passed by that Metropolitan Phillip pointed out to us as significant for various reasons. Finally we arrived at the Kiev Caves monastery, the oldest and arguably the most important in the history of Rus and the subsequent Russian Empire. Here we had the honor of serving Vigil with His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriachate). Metropolitan Onuphry heads by orders of magnitude the largest Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and the only one recognized as canonical by any of the other Local Orthodox Churches. After a really beautiful service sung by two choirs (a mixed choir on the right “kliros” and a men's choir on the left “kliros”), His Beatitude invited us to dine with him at his official residence. Before we get to that I want to note why I put kliros in quotation marks. It is true that at the Dormition Cathedral where we served there is a choir on the right and a choir on the left. BUT, those kliroses are about 50 feet above the floor of the cathedral. So we are not talking about small areas that we might think of in this regard, but huge choir lofts which happen to be on the right and the left. Pictures from the afternoon at the monastery and the vigil are here:

Pictures from the meal at the Metropolitan's residence are here: 

We included pictures from the meal only because there was an exchange of gifts then and I thought you would find that interesting. We would not be joining the Metropolitan for Divine Liturgy the following day, so we needed to exchange gifts at the meal.

After the meal we headed back to the really beautiful monastery guest house that we are staying in and prepared for the Divine Liturgy the next day.

Please continue to pray for us as we travel!

Fr. Gregory