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HELPING CARRY THE CROSS...
AS SIMON OF CYRENE HELPED CHRIST CARRY HIS CROSS, THIS HOLY WEEK THE CHURCH STEPS UP TO HELP THE SUFFERING INDIVIDUALS OF UKRAINE CARRY THEIR CROSSES
As the Russian incursion into the sovereign nation of Ukraine passed its 50th day, the world witnessed atrocities never dreamt of in their worst nightmares. The brutality of the attacking forces towards the civilian population stood against every law of humanity, respect of life, dignity of personhood. The barbarism stood against the Rules of War set forth by the Geneva Convention to minimize harm done to innocent civilians. The cruelty inflicted upon the people of Ukraine by the invading Russians goes against every tenant and teaching of Christ and the Orthodox Church.
Even as their demolished cities smolder and with over a quarter of the populace of Ukraine displaced either internally, or as refugees to foreign lands, their faith and hope in God keeps them going. Huddled in underground cellars, or tempting fate above ground in damaged parish churches, or gathering in parishes outside of Ukraine who have warmly greeted them, Ukrainians celebrated the Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem/Palm Sunday, filled with hope. Just as Christ entered the city fully aware that tough times lay ahead for Him, He did not faulter because He knew that in the end good would conquer evil. And so the people of Ukraine follow their Lord’s example, and with evil and darkness all around them, they focus their gaze and place their hope in God, knowing full well that Christ has already conquered this fallen world.
Entering this Holy Week, as we ponder the Passion of Christ, His humility, and His love for all others, even those who falsely accused Him. As our Lord made His way towards Golgotha, He permitted a man to help Him carry the heavy Cross, showing us that it is okay to allow others to assist us in our life’s journey, especially when our own crosses seem to heavy and hard to carry.
As Simon of Cyrene helped Christ carry His Cross, the Church has stepped up and is helping the refugees and those suffering due to the military aggression against them, by aiding in any way possible to ease their suffering and strengthen their hope God.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, continues to provide life’s necessities to the embattled people of Kharkiv, working through local volunteers to deliver food to the elderly, children, and those who are living in damaged homes, or in cellars beneath the ground.
As the Orthodox celebrated Palm Sunday, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Diaspora, traveled to Germany to firsthand minister to the needs of the refugees who had gathered there. He listened to their heart wrenching recollections, mourned with them at the loss of their loved ones, prayed with them, cried with them, and delivered much needed humanitarian aid to them, and passed along financial assistance to be delivered deep into the heart of ravaged Ukraine to those who are hunkering down during the onslaught.
The Church has sponsored 7 ambulances, 2 of which are already in use saving the lives of those who have been injured by the bombs, and shrapnel.
The embattled regions of the nation, including the city of Dnipro, where the Church is working with Metropolitan Serhiy, are receiving much needed aid and support for the refugees who are fleeing the remnants of the once thriving metropolis of Mariupol.
While many able-bodied families have been able to evacuate the areas that are being currently targeted, many elderly and disabled people are not able to be evacuated and remain in their homes. These individuals are being aided by the Kyiv Metropolia of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, which is ensuring they receive the needed physical and spiritual sustenance to see them through these difficult times.
Through the generous donations of the faithful of the UOC of the USA, the OCU is able to provide the individuals stricken by the evil forces, their homes demolished, possessions lost, loved ones missing with stipends between $300-$1,000 depending on the size of the family unit and the need.
The Saint Andrew Society of the UOC of the USA, lead by Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay, has this week donated $5,000 to assist Ukrainian refugees in need in Germany.
As Orthodox Christians it is our duty to step up and help those in need, knowing that when we assist our neighbors, we assist Christ Himself. Therefore, the Church is stepping up and helping the embattled people of Ukraine, her military, her elderly and disabled, her children, her orphans, her clergy, her families and widows, dust themselves off, shift the weight of their burden and continue to carry their crosses through these dark times.
Please join the Church and help our brethren in Ukraine, and those fleeing Ukraine, carry their crosses as Simon helped Christ.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40)