Spiritual Direction: What Happens When It Is The Wrong Way?
Not since Mark Lane's 1966 book, Rush to Judgement, has there been a topic like this one. Just like
On Feb. 25, 2022, Patriarch Kirill (Gundjaev) has sent a message to all the pastors and faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church, "whose flock is in Russia, Ukraine and other states", calling on the parties to the conflict to "do everything possible to avoid casualties among the peaceful population". He called on everyone to assist refugees and those in need.
His call came after Russian troops began invading Ukraine in late Feb. 2022. This shows exactly how hard it is to understand what is really going on in Russia. On one hand you had the leader of the Russian Orthodox church calling for assistance to refugees and the needy, for mutual understanding between the conflicting parties. On the other hand you had the Country’s Leader Putin saying that the attack was inevitable: it was nothing more than the defense of Russian values from Western aggression.
Can both sides actually co-exist? Can you be a good a supporter of good Christian values and advocate war crimes and genocide? Can you complain about other people's values yet commit crimes upon them because they are doing something different than what you choose to do in your country? With this logic how could anyone possibly believe or subscribe to the theory that somehow Ukraine is to blame for this war? How can they believe or subscribe to the theory that somehow the victim is actually criminal? Brothers and sisters, this defies logic and is simply morally wrong, ethically wrong, and legally wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Then in an amazing turn of events, on Sunday March 7, 2022, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, leader of Russia’s dominant religious group, sent his strongest signal yet justifying his country's invasion of Ukraine — describing the conflict as part of a struggle against sin and pressure from liberal foreigners to hold “gay parades” as the price of admission to their ranks.
Kirill, a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, https://www.asianews.it/files/img/RUS_UK_KIR_PUT.jpg had already refrained from criticizing the Russian invasion – alienating many in the Ukrainian Orthodox churches who had previously stayed loyal to the Moscow patriarch during a schism in their country (2019). Several of these former loyalists are now snubbing Kirill in their public prayers, with some demanding independence from the Moscow church even as their country's political independence is imperiled. To them it is a matter of what is right. Obviously in this case Krill is doing nothing more than being a puppet for Putin. Is that what a man of God should do? Should a man of God advocate for war crimes or to stop the war? This simple question has no easy answer but it should be asked and answered by all Christians in both countries before it is too late to ask such questions.
Kirill, in a sermon delivered Sunday before the start of Orthodox Lent, echoed Putin’s unfounded claims that Ukraine was engaged in the “extermination” of Russian loyalists in Donbas, the breakaway eastern region of Ukraine held since 2014 by two Russian-backed separatist groups. Kirill focused virtually all of his talk about the war on Donbas — with no mention of Russia’s widespread invasion and its bombardment of civilian targets.
To Krill’s statements I pose this question,”Show me the beef?” The famous 1984 TV commercial where a lady questioned the claims of burger place by lifting up the bun and examining the facts. Today, I call upon Krill to show the world the facts and let us investigate these. Until and unless he does this, I would humbly suggest that he would stick to Lenten themes for his Homilies. I also pose the simple question, What would Jesus do?
Kirill on Sunday in his homily he depicted the war in spiritual terms. Not good vs evil not in the terms of Pope Leo XIII but in the terms of a more earthy spokesperson, Mr. Putin.
“We have entered into a struggle that has not a physical, but a metaphysical significance,” Krill told the parish members.
He contended that some of the Donbas separatists were suffering for their “fundamental rejection of the so-called values that are offered today by those who claim world power.”
He claimed that this unnamed world power is posing a “test for the loyalty” of countries by demanding they hold gay pride parades to join a global club of nations with its own ideas of freedom and “excess consumption.”
What media is reporting this event outside of Russia? Who is this unnamed world power? Who requested this and why? Is freedom something that needs to be taken away because people can not handle it? Then I suggest what did God do when he gave us Free Will? Did he make a mistake? Or maybe you are listening to the fallen angel, Lucifer, who appears to be advocating that no individual should be able to exercise their free will unless they agree with him. Is this right?
But many Orthodox Christians in Ukraine have been appalled by Kirill’s stance on the Ukraine war and should listen to what he is saying. The Moscow patriarch has for centuries claimed the ultimate loyalty of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, even though the latter retained ample autonomy. How could a person who claims authority from St. Vladimir is now attacking his capital city of Kiev? St. Vladimir, the man from Kiev, the man who converted his city and was the grandson of St. Olga, would not do this to Kiev. The only Vladimir that would do this would be Vladimir Putin and he is no saint. In fact no matter what his claims are he is no Ukrainian nor a true humanitarian.
Yet, in the build up to this war as well as the annexation of Crimea many priests, monks and faithful had remained loyal to Kirill even with the formation of a more nationalist, Kyiv-based Orthodox Church of Ukraine, in 2018 and 2019.
The war is shattering that loyalty for some, however.
Numerous bishops in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have authorized their priests not to commemorate Patriarch Kirill in their prayers during public worship services — a symbolically important statement in Orthodox tradition, which puts a premium on the faithful being in communion with their divinely ordained hierarchy. Brothers and sisters, let us include Patriarch Krill in our prayers and pray that both he and Putin have a change of heart and leave Ukraine alone. Pray for peace in Ukraine. Pray for peace in the world and pray for a new direction to come from our Church leaders. Remember we are supposed to look for spiritual guidance with our Church leaders, now we need to make sure that they guide us in the right direction now and forever. Amen