Bibles on the window

January 25 2017

Khrystos Okhrestyvsya! Christ is Baptized!

I feel moved and called to offer a few brief thoughts today to us all, (me included!) – and to draw attention to something that the “world” around us is seeking to shine a light on, today, and that is mental health.

I am aware, of course, that in our “Ukrainian/Ukrainian Canadian hromada” (not unlike other “ethnic communities,” or for that matter, “religious communitites,”) there has historically been a reluctance to admit that issues of mental health affect “our hromada,” much less anyone of us personally.

The reality is – issues of mental health DO affect all of us. While we certainly hope that in being “church people,” and availing ourselves of the gifts and resources offered by Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through His Holy Church, as conveyed and handed down to us through the centuries in our Ukrainian Orthodox tradition will help us, this does not make us immune from suffering from mental illnesses.

We all want and seek the best for ourselves, for our families and loved ones, for “our hromada,” and for those of us who serve in the “governance/administration” of our beloved UOCC or in any other church leadership setting, we certainly also want the very best for our UOCC.

Indeed, as our Lord calls us all – we are all called to holiness, to “obozhennya,” to become by grace what God is by nature.

I have long believed though, that this process also calls every one of us to also acknowledge when/where/how/to what extent we, personally may be feeling stress, anxiety, sorrow, anger, jealousy, envy and so forth… which certainly can get to the point of affecting our own mental health. And this is only made worse when we do not acknowledge this, and do NOT talk about it – hence the “Let’s Talk” campaign, put on by a private commercial enterprise…

I am aware, (to as great an extent as God has revealed to me,) that there have been struggles with mental health in my own family – going as far back as my early childhood. That is why I seek very hard, with God’s help, to be patient, kind and understanding with everyone with whom I have dealings, to remember… that all of us are in one way or another affected by the mental health issues and struggles of people around us, and perhaps with our own feelings of stress, anxiety, and so on.

One last thing… I have long thought why is it that our “hromada” has had, and does have so much apparent conflict – much of it now “frozen” as a result of battles of long ago… and one day it “dawned” on me… to and for a people who have struggled with (and continue to struggle with,) the economic, political, religious, and social realities of the late 19th and 20th centuries Ukraine, and subsequently the realities of the life and history of our beloved UOCC right to the present, it has led to no small amount of stress, anxiety, grief and sorrow…

We do not overcome this though, by “expressing” or projecting our stress, anxiety, grief or sorrow onto each other. We certainly do not help each other by reminding each other how this or that has not been done, or has not been done when or to the extent that “we” think it ought to have been done.

So, as I noted in my “Rizdvo” column/article in Visnyk, which initiated this “Chancellor’s Corner,” none of us know the cross or crosses that another is bearing… and therefore, please – let’s be gentle, patient and kind to and with one another. Let us seek to grow in understanding of the other… and let’s not be afraid… “Let’s Talk”…

– Fr. Taras Udod, Chancellor of the UOCC