Monday, May 29, 2017

Today is Memorial Day

Today in America we celebrate Memorial Day. This civil holiday was first called Decoration Day and was connected with the decoration of the graves of Civil War soldiers and others who died in that most destructive of American wars. In 1971 this unofficial holiday became law in the United States. Today is the third day of a three-day weekend in America. Such weekends are always welcome. But let us not forget WHY we have this holiday – remembrance of our veterans and decoration of their graves. We ask each of our parish family today to take a minute and reflect on the sacrifice of others that allows us to live the life we live today. Many died in hope of a better future – and for them we are that future. Let us pray for them – that the Lord will have mercy on them – and let us live righteous lives in service to others, remembering the example of those who came before us and their honorable sacrifice on our behalf. May the Lord grant them a place in His Heavenly Kingdom!

Fr. Gregory

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ukraine Day 4

Today began with breakfast with the students of the Academy and Seminary. Again the day was beautiful (the weather was basically perfect during our time in Kiev: the evenings cool, the days about 65-70 degrees and sunny) so we joined the students first for prayer outside the main building, and then for a light breakfast. After that we had a few preparations to attend to for our flights (Archbishop Peter is heading to Moscow via Warsaw - there are no direct flights from Ukraine to Russia these days, and I am headed back to Detroit via Amsterdam). We had hoped that we might be able to pay a courtesy call to Metropolitan Onuphry after this, but given the difficulties the Ukrainian Orthodox Church faces these days he is extremely busy and could not see us. That was unfortunate, but not really unexpected.

After lunch with professors of the Academy Archbishop Peter was shown two special exhibits in the Academy Library: one on St. Luke of Simferopol, and one on Metropolitan Vladimir (the previous Metropolitan of Kiev who reposed a few years ago). Some pictures of that visit are here:

Following the museum trip Archbishop Peter was interviewed by a reporter for a local Orthodox web site. Pictures of the interview are here:

Following Archbishop Peter's interview we headed out on a driving tour of Kiev which was designed to bring us to a hospital where one of the nuns that Archbishop Peter worked with when he was head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in the Holy Land was a patient. Please remember Nun Theodosia in your prayers. Here are a few pictures from our driving excursion:

We then headed back to the Caves Monastery to pack for our flights early on Saturday morning. Our ride was scheduled to arrive at 2:45 a.m., so we needed to get packed and try to get a few hours of sleep. Part of packing for international travel, especially when one is returning to the US, is balancing the weight in one's baggage. For this I have a little scale that I keep with me. But the battery had died. And it is a funny type of battery - not easy to find. And of course I did not have an extra. So I went to the front desk to ask. They had neither a scale, nor batteries. Nor did they have any idea where to find one. But they thought that maybe there was some sort of scale in the cafe in the basement of the building. Off I went and sure enough - they had a scale for weighing produce. And it turned out to work particularly well for baggage as well! So I weighed my bags and went up to my room to pack. Internet turned out to have worked poorly here (that was the case on the last trip as well), and so it was hard even to read email, not to mention creating and posting blog entries. So most of this will go up after I am back in the states. Please pray for us as we (especially Archbishop Peter) continue to travel.

Fr. Gregory

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ukraine Day 3

Today we began early at the Kyiv Academy  & Seminary. Morning prayers were outside because of the nice weather. A few pictures of the morning prayers can be found here:

After the prayers Archbishop Peter and I had breakfast with the students gathered for their exams. His Eminence then met with a different group of students than he had the day previous for about an hour.

We then met with a friend of Archbishop Peter's from his time in the Holy Land as the Head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission who just happened to be in Kiev today.

Next we were off for an excursion to several of the important monasteries in Kiev. We visited the St. Jonah Monastery (which is right next to the botanical gardens - the gardens had been part of the monastery too before the Communist Revolution), the Zverinetsky Caves Monastery, and the Florovsky-Voznesensky (St. Florus/Exaltation of the Cross) Convent. Pictures from those visits can be found here:





Finally, we had dinner with the students of the Academy and Seminary.

Tomorrow is the last day in Kiev. Flights on Saturday are at 6:00 a.m., so we will leave the monastery at 3:00 a.m. That is 8:00 p.m. Michigan time on Friday, so if I seem a little tired at Vigil on Saturday night it is because I will have been awake from at least 8:00 p.m. on Friday by the time you seem me at Vigil. :)

Please pray for us as we travel!

Fr. Gregory