“The Stuff Priests are Made Of”: Orthodox Edition – UPDATED Phones IDing Protesters

A couple of years ago, jumping off of this appreciation by Katrina Fernandez, I chronicled a few Catholic priests who had put themselves in the middle of danger, in astonishing ways, for love of Christ and humanity.

Currently, there are terrible stories, violent images and reported deaths coming out of Ukraine, as citizens and journalists have attempted to peacefully demonstrate for their right — the very basic human right — to be able to freely question and protest against public policy without undue limitation. Amid the photo essays are pictures like these:

Photo: Sergei Supinsky/AFP

An Orthodox priest here places himself between the frustrated mobs and the armed soldiers; urging calm, he holds up the cross. Note the rifle, poised, behind him. He is directly in the line of fire, where he clearly feels called to be.

Priests tend to do stuff like this. In fact, while people may misunderstand and deride the vows of celibacy taken by Catholics priests, and also by Orthodox monks, these Christ-minded men consistently show the sort of toughness that is conceived and nurtured within a most paradoxical tenderness; in pictures like these, they are the very model of forthright masculinity, quite unlike anything preferred by the pop culture.

Let us pray for the people at risk in Kiev, and the ones fighting, throughout Ukraine, to insure their fundamental freedoms. And let us thank God that they have priests and monks like these, willing to go amid the violence and stand for the way of peace.

That via Billy Kangas, who links to this noting:

Although they were invited to join the “people”, the fathers only prayed and sang the Paschal troparion: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life,” wrote the Ramensky deanery of Moscow on its facebook page. The conflict ceased.

More pics of priests and monks stepping into danger found here

UPDATE: They’re going to need those priests,
because things are heating up and the jackboot doesn’t even need the shadows, anymore. As Tom McDonald is pointing out technology is being used against the Kiev protesters.

Kiev is exploding in protests as Ukraine’s president attempts to move the country away from EU membership and closer into the Russian orbit.

On Tuesday, anyone in the vicinity of the protests received the following message on their phones: “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”


Got that?

We know who you are now and you can expect a visit.

I knew the tech existed, but the idea of it being deployed in such a blatantly totalitarian and oppressive way still shocks. Anyone with an active cellphone in that area is identified, complete with a list of contacts and just about everything else anyone needs to know. They don’t even need to be participating in the protest. Just nearby.

Read the rest of Tom’s piece here, and don’t be embarrassed to admit that your blood chills a little at the ease with which we are all now watched and counted. And “registered.” Coming soon to a mass or March for Life near you. And our priests can’t stand between us and that.

That prayer of the monks can be heard in the last 30 seconds of this haunting chant:

YouTube Preview Image

(Thanks, Joanne!)

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  • Gail Finke

    Tom doesn’t say where he got that information, is it confirmed?

  • MeanLizzie

    He links to it right there in his post, in the body of his comments. You must have missed it. I also linked to it when I reproduced his comments. From here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/22/world/europe/ukraine-protests.html?_r=1

  • FW Ken

    I’m surprised marketing companies aren’t using the tech to send attendees at events targeted advertising.

    As to registering attendees at the March for Life, I can’t walk well enough to go, but maybe someone will take my phone for me.

  • Susan Windley-Daoust

    I can’t believe I was in that square a year and a half ago, eating an ice cream cone, waiting to head out the next day to adopt our son a few hours south. It’s surreal and horrifying. These images of the priests are very inspirational, but frankly, all the thousands of people crowding that square even after the cell phone ping is pretty inspirational too. The ones who died yesterday (and it sounds like more than five) are inspirational. I remember when we were there for three weeks hearing from a native Ukrainian “we just want to live in a normal country.” Not yet, apparently. My heart breaks for them.

  • FatherMapple

    This is one of those rare situations where the vow of celibacy actually makes MORE sense – as in, without wife or children to fear for, they can put their lives at greater earthly risk. Not saying people with spouse and child don’t think as clearly or don’t have the same strength of faith or conviction (and there is definitely an argument that then they’d have “more” to stand up for) but in a potential standoff like this, it would be a relief to know I only had to worry about myself and God for the next few years if it all went sideways.

  • Manny

    We need more manly priests like that over here.

  • ichen

    There’s a livestream of the protests. This video shows the priests: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/42960877. At 2min, they turn around so you can see them better.

  • Steve

    I knew that phones were going to be used for this sooner or later. I’m not trying to be a luddite, I’m just saying. Note to protestors: leave cell phones at home.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Every time I think the world is getting better the more I am proven wrong. Perhaps all I’m seeing lately is negative news, but I have never seen the world and this country (the US) in such horrible shape.

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.
    Well, not quite true. Those Ukrainian priests most definitely have conviction and are among the best. God bless them and may they stand tall with Christ’s cross.

  • MeanLizzie

    Did you not see the link to my previous post on great priests? They’re all western, Catholic. And there are plenty of them around. We’ll find out about them soon enough, I’m sorry to say.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    That’s a different Manny, but let me defend him for a second. He probably means geographically here in the US.

  • Manny

    Yes, sorry for the confusion, I meant here in the US.

  • Inge Loots

    Aren’t most Orthodox priests married?

  • MeanLizzie

    They’re here in the US too. As I said, we’ll see them, soon enough, the way things are going.

  • MeanLizzie

    Orthodox seminarians who believe they will want to marry must do so before they are ordained. After ordination, if they are not married, they can no longer marry and are to be celibate. Orthodox monks vow celibacy. Bishops are only chosen from among the monks.

  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    I’m so relieved that tracking dissidents using the metadata and location of their phones does not happen in these US of A! Can you imagine if the NSA could collect the data off the antennas in the vicinity of the March for Life on which phones were there? No, we live in a state of law where court decisions are open to public scrutiny and everyone is secure in their persons from unreasonable seizures, no, sir. Ah, how exceptional America is…

  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    Google does exactly this when browsing on phones.

  • Alexander C. Wroblicky

    Fr. Mapple, Please read the life of Blessed Emilian Kovch, priest martyr at the Majdanek concentration camp. He was married. Celibacy makes no more sense than marriage in a true vocation by God to be a priest. Most Catholic and Orthodox priests in the Byzantine Tradition are married. If the priest and his family have a mature understanding of their commitment to Christ as a disciple, earthly concerns will not get in the way when duty calls. I think that it is safe to say that many a celibate priest have flinched in the face of evil and chosen a worldly path instead of laying their life down for Christ and His flock in the two millennia of Christian History, as have worldly married priests. It is not a celibacy issue. It is one of mature discipleship.

    Fr. Deacon Alexander

  • Frank

    I think MeanLizzie is saying that Totalitarian Liberals will soon be sending troops to point guns at prayerful Catholic priests is the USA.

  • Frank

    So the Ukrainian people, and their priests, want the freedom to develop closer ties with the secular, liberal EU. The president of Ukraine wants closer ties with an increasingly traditionalist Russia.

    Very strange indeed.

  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    After having half of its population deported from the Ukraine to the Gulags by Stalin and then settle millions of Russians in order to wipe out the Ukrainian culture should make it easy to understand why they reject Russia. Once scalded…

    But I’d say that they’d be better off remaining on their own. The EU is just looking for more patsies to pony up the entrance fee for the rescue fund of its failed states in order to save the French and German banks.

    I’d hate to be between a rock and a hard place, or an Ukrainian between Russia and the EU.

  • Slocum Moe

    Your life may have been populated by heroic and virtuous priests. I have not found them to be numerous.

  • FW Ken

    I wonder if it’s about secularism as much as lingering distaste for Russia and it’s ex-KGB president.

    But what I meant to say is that every time I come back to this story I am more in awe of these heroic men. Blessed are the peacemakers.

  • Molly

    I would like to learn more about the first photograph. I hope you will update us. Thanks, Elizabeth.

  • Peggy Coffey

    Will our priests and bishops tell the ones in authority that abortion is murder and the Catholic congressmen and senators must fall in line with the religion they belong to? Will they censure these men and women who say abortion is a right of a women and will they prevent them from taking the sacraments? No, of course they won’t . If they can’t stand up for the unborn they won’t stand up for the rest of us.