On Wednesday the 27th of February, people gathered in St Patrick’s cathedral to pray for the Maidan. It was a somewhat poignant moment, with many people lost in thoughts and memories of the whole freedom for Ukraine struggle that went on in the Maidan.
Ukrainians have been struggling for freedom for many years. Corruption and a decay of morals have been a symbol and a legacy of communism. It took some 80 years to instil the Godless legacy of evil, and unfortunately it may take as long to be rid of it. With all the decay and absurd luxuries that we saw on the internet that Yanukovych had, a gaudy Versailles, it seemed that nothing was ever enough. He encouraged the people to tighten their belts because the country was going through economic hardship. At the same time pensioners were simply not able to make ends meet. It was not just the absurd wealth of one man. Orders were given to get snipers to shoot at will. Orders were given for the now disbanded Berkut militia to beat whoever and however they choose. The horrific demonstrations were seen around the world on youtube. Many young people of Ukrainian descent have been to Ukraine, and have made friends there. Some have friends who were on the maidan. Some of the priests who served are friends of priests in Australia. The former government lust for gaudy riches could never be fulfilled. It was not only one man, it was most of them, it was the lot. What brings people to have totally no regard for their neighbour. This made at least me think, do I care enough for the poor. It is perhaps impossible not to care. Obviously now all is different. We have to care, otherwise we cease being people.
Everybody in the Cathedral was thinking of someone. They did not die for a political cause, they did not die for that matter to get rid of a dictator, though that is what happened. They gave their lives voluntarily because they believed. They looked for a society in which honesty prevails and not corruption. They looked to a society in which there was freedom. They wished for a society where basic Christianity and Christian values are the bed rock of social life. Ultimately when pushed by the powers of evil hard enough, people with a clean heart will stand up and say. I believe in God. This is what brought people, young and old alike out in droves to the maidan.
This same vision and idealism brought people to saint Patrick’s on Wednesday night. We were not alone. Our prayers were linked to those of thousands of other such vigils around the world praying for peace. Knowing that there are thousands of groups of people, just like us around the world essentially looking for honesty and truth and a Godly life, was a one in a life time experience.
The service ended with the people joining in singing the hymn. “Oh great and only God”, the hymn of the exiled Ukrainians who sung this hymn of hope in the times of the Communist persecutions. Once again, we look to God when persecution comes.
At least for me, this service gave me hope. We in Melbourne are a Godly community who do have a sense of Christian values and when we need to stand up and be identified with the call of freedom to believe, we do so. Faith is alive in our community as well.
Rt Rev. Olexander Kenez
This post is also available in: Ukrainian