Sunday, October 23, 2016

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

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