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Issue 02 – Assumption 2020


Against The New Nationalism

On the Church as a universal empire.


I first visited Ukraine in November of 1998, just a few days before my fifteenth birthday. I was travelling with my family to a Byzantine Catholic priestly ordination. We took a Soviet-era train (with red velvet upholstery) from Vienna to L’viv. At the border between Slovakia and Ukraine, the train was hoisted upon cranes and the wheels changed. The reason, we were told, was that Stalin had had the gauge of train tracks in the Soviet Union widened to discourage invading armies.

Crossing the border into Ukraine in the nineties was like going back in time. As the train rattled through the Carpathians, we looked out on women in headscarves washing clothes in icy rivers and horses pulling sledges and wagons. The wagons had car tires on their wheels, but otherwise we could have been in the nineteenth century.

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About the author

Edmund Waldstein

Edmund Waldstein, O. Cist., is a monk of Stift Heiligenkreuz.