Thoughts on the 100th Anniversary of the "Fourth Universal"

I recently finished a new critically acclaimed book, Red Famine – “Stalin’s War on Ukraine” by Anne Applebaum. This book is a must-read  for anyone interested in Ukraine, its history and politics especially in light of current events. Below are my thoughts... 

Fr. Roman Galadza

MONDAY, JANUARY 22(9), 1918 - 2018

Yesterday during the sermon I mentioned that today, January 22, is the 100th Anniversary of the “Fourth Universal” – the declaration in Kiev of the establishment of the Ukrainian National Republic, independent of Russia.  I rationalized this departure from my usual preaching on the Gospel by calling to mind that the message of the Incarnation of Christ is that God came down from heaven to be a part of our earthly existence, to unite “Nebo I Zemlya” as we sing in the Carol/Kolyada, and that although it is the Kingdom of Heaven that is usually preached here, what we have on earth was not ignored by God, nor should it be by us…..

For those unfamiliar with the History of Ukraine-briefly:

100 years ago, in the aftermath of The Great War, the Ukrainian “Rada” – Council in Kiev under the presidency of Prof. Mychajlo Hrushevsky, declared the 4th and final “Universal” - its intent to establish a Ukrainian state independent of Russia.  The fact that this was done after centuries of foreign domination, denial of identity and outright persecution is amazing. Unfortunately, the Bolsheviks, realizing that they could not succeed without Ukraine, quickly sent in the Red Army and this brave attempt was systematically and brutally put down.   This was a tragedy not just for Ukraine, but for the world, for without Ukraine, the Soviet Union with all its horrors would have never existed. The events following the Fourth Universal were horrible, taking place through the ‘20’s and on into the infamous “Holodomor – Death by Famine” in the early ‘30’s and beyond. This tragedy, taking place less than a hundred years ago is most recently depicted in the book “Red Hunger” by Anne Applebaum. (see above)   With the opening up of archives in Ukraine and Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union the facts and anecdotal records of what took place makes for compelling reading.  The lessons there may be applied to governments and political movements even today.  And all the while, in the midst of the horror, the people remembered who they were and that they had a right to live as God’s family in a free and independent of foreign rule Ukrainian land.


I concluded by saying that in church we pray for “peace in the world”, we are told to “lay aside all cares of life” and at the end of the Liturgy sing out “Blessed be the name of the Lord”.  The thought comes to mind – how is this possible, with such slaughter taking place in the country?  What great faith and hope in God it must have taken not to give up but to still believe and to still sing the hymns of the Liturgy that follows especially on this occasion, at this season of the year…. something to remember today.

For those who are interested + in memory of those who suffered and died for it click here to read the full text of the  "Fourth Universal"