And Now a Word From Your Pastor

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  • February 28, 2022

And Now a Word From Your Pastor…

Seems we’re slowly but surely moving back to normal. But what is normal these days? It seems our lives are confronted by one crisis after another. As I’m writing this article, the world is in turmoil over events unfolding between Ukraine and Russia. Though this may seem like a dis- pute on the other side of the world, we here do have a bit of a dog in that fight. Historically, the initial immigrants founding our church of St. Mary, though referred to as ‘the Germans’, were actually Ukrainians. They were Germans invited into the Ukraine by Catherine the Great (a German princess who married the Czar), when she assumed the title Czarina, ruler of Russia, in 1762. Over the centuries, those Germans became Russianized, but retained their German language, culture, names and, in our case their Roman Catholic faith in a Russian Orthodox country. They made the Ukraine the breadbasket of Russia. The migration to our area began in the late 1800’s lasting till the early 1920’s when Stalin and Communist Russia closed the Ukraine’s borders and initiated the elimination of this element of Ukrainian society which refused the collectivization of farms. It’s probably doubtful that many of the ancestors of our Ukrainian/German community survived Stalin’s genocide, but we can claim that the deep root of our parish lies in the area of the Ukraine.

It’s very uncertain how the situation there in the Ukraine will be resolved or be played out. We can only hope and pray that the people of the Ukraine will be permitted to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors. Hopefully the big neighbor, Russia, will respect the Ukrainian people’s desire to be a united people, a nation among nations.

I’ve been reflecting that, as the world situation has been spiraling into who-knows-what outcome, we will be entering the holy season of Lent, preparing our hearts and disciplining our bodies for the central feast of our Faith: Easter. This feast is ‘the Mystery of Faith’ we proclaim at each Eucharist: the suffering, dying and rising of Christ, our Savior, as we await His return. We will hear a lot about how during Lent special days of fasting (very little food), abstinence (giving up certain foods or pleasures) and prayer are important and vital to celebrating Easter, having ourselves experience a renewal of soul and body. Perhaps this Lent we can reflect how blessed we have been as a Nation, Community and Parish. We have been spared the anguish and destruction of war on our soil. Yes, we have our issues and problems, quarrels and conflicts. If the world situation deteriorates as some predict, we will all have to tighten our belts and make adjustments to our accustomed way of ‘carry on our lives’. Maybe we can remember those who are on the front line of the conflicts around the world who have lost everything, have had to abandon all they have known and loved and have nothing to return to. Our Lenten observance can become, not only uniting our sacrifices with those of Christ, but also uniting our sacrifices with those enduring much greater sacrifices in the Ukraine and other countries. Viewed in this way, our Lent becomes a solidarity with all the suffering who make the news and those who suffer nameless. My Dad would often say, “What do you have to complain about?”. If we find ourselves complaining during these 40 days, a swift kick could bring us back to reality and make our ‘offering up’ little sacrifices seem like nothing compared to the hardships so many are bearing silently and unnoticed.

These days of Lent will speed by like a lighting flash. Unfortunately, many in the present crisis will be living lives shattered more-than-likely for generations. Our prayers, sacrifices and hardships this Lent can make us ever more grateful for the example of our Lord who endured everything to bring us to share in the glory of His Resurrection.