I came to the USA from Poland, being from an area next to what are now Slovakia and the Ukraine. The Orthodox Service Books printed in the early 1600s call this area Podkarpatskaya Rus. You can see this name on the first pages of the very oldest Slavonic Service Books printed in Mukačevo. I know my heritage, I know my faith, and I know what I am… I’m “Ruska”, a Russian woman from the Carpathians. My family has always been Orthodox. Always. My great grandparents would go to Yablechno or Pochaev to confess their sins every year when they could. Everyone in Europe knows who we are. It’s only here I’m informed I’m “really” Ukrainian or Ruthenian or Rusyn or whatever. I came to America when in the late 60s, looking for work. Poland needed American dollars. Life wasn’t too restricted in communist Poland. In fact, the communist government defended Orthodox from Roman Catholic persecution all the time. Sometimes, they rebuilt Orthodox Churches, too. Officially, it was because of “cultural value”, but they really helped the Church. I came to America and found work and husband. My husband and I (he was a Pole with a worker’s visa, too) ended up staying here. We found a good Orthodox church in a town nearby and joined it. Life went on.
In 1982, our American Orthodox Church did something even the communists wouldn’t do in Poland. They took on the Roman Catholic calendar. We weren’t happy, but we were able to keep our tradition by going to another church not too far away. Others elsewhere were not so lucky; for almost 25 years, the American Church attacked them. Sometimes, real persecution took place. Again, the communists never did such a thing in Poland or Czechoslovakia! The American Church said we couldn’t have “two Christmases”. It was wrong to keep one as the civil day and the other as a holy day. They always told us that we had to “sanctify” America by using only American Christmas. They showed much animosity against those who couldn’t accept this change.
Then, the White Exile Church and the Moscow Church made peace. They even united. They buried the hatchet. OK. However, now that the two Russian Churches united, what do we see? Every Orthodox Christmas, OCA people fill our churches! Even priests! They come, sing, eat festal foods, and go sing Russian Christmas carols. They keep two Christmases! What they persecuted others for doing for 25 years! It’s outrageous! I want to tell them what I feel! Either go back to the old calendar or go away and “sanctify” 25 December! You don’t have the right to be with us for Orthodox Christmas. You threw it in the garbage… with it you tossed out many of your own brothers! Maybe, you secretly preferred the old calendar? Nevertheless, you did nothing to defend it or defend the people who kept it. You sat on your hands as other people better than you suffered. I can’t forget this. I forgive you, but really, your appearance at our church for Russian Christmas is an insult. You sour my holy day and other people’s too! Go “sanctify” your calendar, please. If not, at least, issue a sincere and heartfelt apology… ask forgiveness from those you hurt. If you can’t do that, you’re not entitled to any Christmas at all!
As I always say, there was a REAL Church War and those who fomented it hurt many people, but the powers-that-be never gave a ruby-red goddamn, as the victims were “little people”. To hell with the First Families, their institutions, and their lies… the sooner that they disappear, the better it’ll be for the rest of us.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Gospel according to St Matthew 18.6