Father Theophan Mackey: A Parable

Saint Job of Pochaiv Orthodox Church

There once was a lovely woman. Her hair was the color of ripe wheat in the field and her eyes were the color of the sky on a clear summer day. She was endowed with every talent under heaven: she could sing and dance, write poetry, and her laugh was infectious and bountiful. She had a keen and inquiring mind and was generous to all who knew her. 

Throughout her life she had been alternately courted and abused by her stronger neighbors. But she survived it all while keeping her good graces intact and for the most part lived in peace and harmony with them.

Her closest neighbor was a bear of a man, large and intimidating. He convinced her once to marry him, but their marriage was at best a tumultuous one. He was heavy-handed in his treatment of her, domineering and petty. He forbade her to use her own language, on occasion he would keep her from eating, and would not let her have friendships with their neighbors who he disapproved of. They shared the same religion, but he used it as another means of controlling her, even though her family had practiced the faith longer than his.

As tumultuous marriages often do, this one ended in divorce. It was not pretty, neither was it fair. She remained his neighbor and he continued to exert pressure on her whenever and however he could. Often just the threat of his presence was enough to curtail her behavior. 

But as the years went on, she became more and more like her other neighbors, less guarded, more liberal, more open. But this threatened the man, although divorced, he was still infatuated with her, the idea of her as his own. Nothing was more repugnant to him than when she made her own decisions and stood on her own two feet. He was quick to point out any mistakes she made and immediately offer help. However, control was always a condition of the offer.

One day, when she was standing firmly on her own, growing more confident every day, he could take it no longer. In a fury, he smashed into her house, started breaking everything he could, assaulting her and killing her children, all while yelling that it was for her own good.

The neighbors could hear and see what was going on. They knew their history. 

If this rings a bell you may be paying attention to what is happening in eastern Europe. What happens next is up to all of us, our empathy, our sense of justice, and our resolve. 

Saint Job of Pochaiv Orthodox Church here in Los Alamos, belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the United States of America. We are under the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople (Istanbul), just as the OCU is in Ukraine. We have family members in Ukraine, both fighting and sheltering. We have family members who have fled to safer nations. This aggression has hit home for us. 

What can we do?

First, pray. It is not just good feelings; we believe in the power of the faithful prayer. We will be having a special prayer service on Saturday evening, March 5th at 5:30pm for the cessation of aggression, the establishment of peace, and the safety of all. Please attend and show your support.

Second, pressure. Contact your representatives and let them know you stand with Ukraine. Keep posting positive images of Ukraine on social media. Don’t let it fade with a new news cycle, people are dying. 

Third, donate. www.uocofusa.org is accepting donations 100% of which will be sent to humanitarian aid in Ukraine. They have the connections to be efficient disbursement.

The story may yet have a happy ending.