The Latin Church celebrates the Feast of All Saints today, so Eugenia Geisel very appropriately published her final piece on World Youth Day on my blog today, launching her blog Lipstick on My Relics.
In the Kyivan Church, though, today is the anniversary of the falling-asleep of our father among the saints Metropolitan Andrey (Sheptytsky); he reposed in 1944. Metropolitan Andrey is a key figure not only in our church, but as Archimandrite Robert Taft SJ points out, in the development of Eastern Catholic theology altogether (Taft also points out that Eastern Catholic theology is a little bit like the legal definition of pornography: nobody quite knows what it is, but you know it when you see it). He headed the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church for the first half of the twentieth century, and he and his Eastern Catholic allies like Cyril Korolevsky and Oreste Kerame developed the understanding that we need to be who we are, not who someone else thinks we should be – or worse, what we think someone else think we should be in a kind of self-colonizing way. We are Orthodox because we are the Church of Kyiv. We are Catholic as a local church and in communion with the Bishop of Rome. We have been colonized, and we have engaged in a self-oppressing self-colonization, and yet we are persons.
Metropolitan Andrey asked that all of our Kyivan temples might put up an icon of Holy Sophia in our altars. As Fr Andriy Chirovsky shows, this was part of a longstanding outworking of his sophiology, his mystical and theological understanding of wisdom that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with all the other Orthodox sophiologists we associate with the early twentieth century: Solovyov, Bulgakov, Evdokimov, Florensky, and so on – even Lossky, I might add, with a wicked, wicked smile. And for those who might add that, but no, Ukrainians are not as smart as those other guys, this is the point: wisdom is not about how smart you are. Wisdom comes from above; she is the sophia who animates our life.
Chirovsky relates a prayer that Metropolitan Andriy gave our church to pray regularly. It is for Divine Wisdom, the sophia who animates our church, the sophia that once animated Byzantium. From our temples, that same Constantinopolitan spirit rings out. Of course, for those reading the prayer and are Orthodox-not-in-communion-with-Rome, there will certainly be places where our communion with Rome will grate on their soul. Uniate! doubtless they might say, without having read a word of Sheptytsky, Korolevsky, Kerame, Sayegh, Zoghby, Madey, Taft, Chirovsky, Galadza père et fils, Butcher, DeVille, and so on. So whatever la.
As Metropolitan Andrey was quick to point out, this is who we are. We are the Kyivan Church. We, like our sister Eastern Catholic churches, despite our many flaws and pained histories, can be said to understand our self-existence as annoying people into communion. Who knows if it will work? For this, we pray for God’s wisdom.
Here is the prayer in full:
Oh Great and Almighty God! From your exalted and holy heavens and from the throne of your glory send down on me your holy wisdom, which sits beside You. Give me the wisdom of your pleasing, that in life I might know to earnestly desire, wisely seek, confess in truth, and perfectly fulfil that which is pleasing to you for the glory and honour of Your holy name, “for the praise of the glory of your grace” (Eph. 1:6). Give me, God, the wisdom of my state, that I might fulfil what you desire, let me understand my obligations and let me perform them as needed and as is fitting for Your glory and the profit of my soul. Give me the wisdom of Your ways and the wisdom to walk the paths of Your holy will; give me the wisdom of faring well and ill, that I might know not to exalt myself amid the first and not to fall amid the second; give me the wisdom of joy and the wisdom of sorrow: may I rejoice only in that which leads to you, may I grieve only on account of that which distances from you. Give me the wisdom of all that passes and all that endures; may the first shrink in my eyes and the second grow; give the wisdom of labour and the wisdom of rest; may work for you be a luxury and rest without you – fatigue. Give me the wisdom of sincere and simple intention, the wisdom of simplicity, the wisdom of sincerity. May my heart always turn to You and seek You in everything my whole life through. Give me the wisdom of obedience toward your law, toward your Church. Give me the wisdom of poverty that I might never value goods other than according to their actual worth; give me the wisdom of chastity, according to my state and vocation; give me the wisdom of patience, the wisdom of humility; the wisdom of merriment and seriousness, the wisdom of the fear of the Lord; the wisdom of veracity and good works; may I be patient without any complain, humble without the least pretence, cheerful without excessive laughter, serious without severity; that I might be veracious without a shade of double-dealing; may my goal works be free from self-contentment. Give me the wisdom to admonish my neighbour when need be, without self-exaltation; let me edify people by word and deed, without hypocrisy; give me, God, the wisdom of sensitivity, attention, and caution; may no idle thought lead me to directionlessness; give me the wisdom of nobility; may no duty or unworthy attachment ever topple me; give me the wisdom of rectitude, may no selfish intention ever lead me off the road of obligations; give me the wisdom of fortitude and strength; may no storm bring me down; give me the wisdom of liberty, may no forcible passion ever enslave me.
Give me the wisdom of the theological virtues and the moral virtues: faith, hope, love, prudence, piety, moderation and fortitude; give me, God, the wisdom of the Apostles, the wisdom of the Martyrs; give me priestly and pastoral wisdom, give me the wisdom of the preachers and teachers, give me the wisdom of the ministers of the Holy Mysteries, give me eucharistic wisdom and a mystical wisdom – the wisdom of prayer and contemplation, and above all, Lord, give me the wisdom of sincere repentance, of imperfect and perfect contrition, give me the wisdom of recognizing myself in my weakness and malice; give me the wisdom of mortification and fasting; give me the wisdom of renunciation and sacrifice of self; give me the wisdom of sacrifice, the wisdom of the Cross; the wisdom of blood; God, give me, finally that wisdom, which, according to Your holy intentions leads to the union of Churches under one supreme shepherd, the Roman hierarch; give me the wisdom to value that work of holy unification, to love it, and even to sacrifice my life for it; give me the wisdom of our Eastern Rite, its preservation, renewal and development; give me the wisdom of the Fathers of the holy Eastern Church and all the great Church teachers; give me the wisdom of your great Apostle Paul, that I might at least understand his Epistles well, remember them, and know how to explain them to your people; give me the wisdom of Your first Vicar that I might understand the intentions of Your Divine Providence, which rules the Church through the Roman Hierarchs; give me the wisdom of obedience to them and the Universal – Catholic Church; give me the wisdom of Church history and theology, give me the wisdom which I and our people lack most; give me the wisdom of true contentment, of true happiness. Amen. (Chirovsky 1999, ‘Appendix D: The Prayer for Divine Wisdom,’ p. 252-255).