Today the snow was a bit daunting. It was showering down upon us with such haste as to make every step precarious. Add to this the fact that the Ukrainians do not believe in shoveling the sidewalks and each foot forward may well be your last. Now all of this was in my mind. But it meant nothing to the locals. They run down the walks without a care in the world!
We went to St. Andrew’s Church today. It was built in the 18th century and is so beautiful from the outside. Inside the church has styling of the era, very Baroque. The icons were very Western, not the flat two-dimensional styles that, allegedly, all icons are supposed to be. It is no less holy.
The church itself is very small within, yet inspiring. It is a living church; parish services are still held for the neighborhood faithful. Contrast its still utilitarian nature with the fact that it is a historical site, burdened with glorious wood-works of the period and irreplaceable works of art, and you have a failing facility. Without a benefactor whose generosity would promote legitimate restoration, the facility’s decay will progress unchallenged. This is but one facet of what I saw.
A fellow priest once told me, “Russian churches are dirty and ill-kept.” I wondered, at the time, if this was truth or bias. I have learned over the years the comment was not bias. The interior of the church was ill-maintained: dirty; dripped wax on the floors; ladders and chairs posted and leaning on the nearly 200 year old walls; and icon frames broken and bent out of shape by the hands of weather and time. And it was here that I prayed. The Lord, saints, and angels worry not from where prayers originate. All prayers are heard.
We saw the priest; as we were carefully ascending the steel stairs to the church, he was rapidly descending. How do they do that with snow and ice everywhere?!
Juxtaposed to the church in which he serves, he was the suave and pristine model – and debonair priest.