The homily at this Sunday morning Mass was very interesting and instructive. The visiting priest grew up in the U.S. but has been a missionary priest to the Ukraine (of the former Soviet Union) since the collapse of the Soviet Union. He returns to the U.S. each years to obtain funds (the 2nd collection at Mass) for continuing the seminaries in Ukraine.
I wish that this priest could have given his homily at every Mass in the U.S. before this election. I am certain that many people were thinking about our election while he was describing life in the Ukraine under socialism and then communism. It was not hard to see the comparisons with the choices that we made on November 6th.
Just a few examples from the homily this morning:
> The communists promised to take care of all of the peoples' needs, from cradle to grave. All they wanted in return was your entire work life and your soul.
> The main opposition to the communists was the Eastern Catholic Church. The communist government systematically set about eliminating all traces of religion in the Soviet Union. The Catholic Church was banned, leading the Church to go underground for about 70 years (approximately). The communist government taught people to rely on the state instead of their faith.
> Churches were destroyed or re-purposed for other government uses. I know of one large Catholic church the was converted to a grainery (e.g. filled with wheat or barley) under Soviet rule.
> There was no unemployment, education was free, health care was free, but the communist government decided what your life's work would be and assigned jobs to each person. The choice was not yours to make. The priest discussed this working situation with some of the citizens... They said "We pretended to work all of the time and the government pretended to pay us for our work." The population had some money to spend, but there was hardly anything that they could buy in a store.
> Many priests, sisters and citizens were tortured and killed under the Soviet system. One of the large local university buildings was converted to a KGB headquarters. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the basement of this building was excavated for another project and was found to have hundreds of bodies buried within it.
> One priest ,with which this missionary priest worked, was assigned the night job of stoking the coal-fired boilers to run a factory (as he was no longer allowed his duties as a priest). This turned out to be a good job for the priest. Young men would come to him in the evenings on the job and this priest would instruct them in all of the things that they needed to know in order to become a priest. He would secretly ordain them as priests once he decided that they were fully prepared. This apparently happened with dozens of priests.
> After the Soviet Union collapsed, the strong underground Catholic Church in the Ukraine was able to come into the open and worship freely. The Ukraine was noted as reviving it's Church the most quickly after the collapse, due to it's strong underground church.
> Under communist rule, a bottle (a fifth) of vodka was cheaper than a bottle of selzer water. The communists discovered that if the population was in at stupor much of the time, it was easier to get them to comply and not revolt. Since the collapse, a few priests have set up an alcohol recovery center on an old government installation. The addicts live there and get treatment based on an American AA 12-step program. Alcohol addition is a huge problem in the Ukraine. Because of this, they have a declining population and a declining life expectancy.
I hope that we don't venture very far down the socialism path before we (as a country) come to our senses. With the developments of the past four years, we have certainly started in that direction.
Just my thoughts.