PASTORAL MESSAGE OF THE UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC HIERARCHY OF THE U.S.A. TO OUR CLERGY, HIEROMONKS AND BROTHERS, RELIGIOUS SISTERS, SEMINARIANS AND BELOVED FAITHFUL

CHRIST IS BORN!

 

The birth of Christ – the time when the Christian world becomes immersed, as if in a fairy-tale of its childhood: fancy sparkling garlands, glistening Christmas tree ornaments and the comfort of family festivities, with its familiar aroma of Holy Eve supper reminiscent of childhood and the excitement of waiting for gifts as children.  At this time, it even seems to adults that the mystical joy of Christmas, almost here and now, is leading them to the Promised Land of comfort and fulfillment of all dreams.  We would venture to say that Christmas, somehow in a mysterious, incomprehensible way, hands down to us the distant, gentle taste of Heaven.

 

On a purely human level, Christmas, possibly as no other of our Christian feast days, manifests to us the essence of all our most profound aspirations, that is, to be part of a community, the community of a large family, sitting at the festive table of Our Heavenly Father.

 

Nevertheless, somehow we forget or we don’t want to possibly remember, that in order to achieve the aim to which our entire inner being aspires, it is necessary we go all the way through.  For we, as human beings, still find ourselves in the valley of tears and as our divine services say, the earthly “life – is but a shadow and a dream”.  To walk along this road, along the road of achieving our destiny – is to follow Jesus Christ.  It means to follow Him Who put aside His glory and entered the darkness of this world, where the human being suffers, removed from the intimacy of God.

 

Christ could have been born in a royal palace.  He could have become a worldwide ruler who imposes his will on the passive masses of subjects, whom He forcibly pulls, each and every one, into the embrace of the Loving Father.  However, how could God, who is Love, desire compulsory “love”?  Could a Loving Father try to compel his children to love Him by force?

 

This is the reason why Christ did not choose the path of power.  He chose the path of Love, which is the only one that can overcome evil which reigns in this world.  Love is the one and only thing that can prompt the human heart to respond with love.  He chose the path of accomplishing the will of the Father in order to gather together into one all the scattered children of God (John 11, 52) through Sacrifice.  His mission – redemption of humanity, restoring the relationship of the human person with God, this – the Sacrifice, is a sacrifice from the very beginning to the very end.

 

The Sacrifice which began at that moment when the Son of God, the Second Person of God, set aside his Glory, Power, Grandeur and lowered Himself, assuming human nature, becoming one of those who suffer in the valley of banishment.  His Sacrifice passed both through the cold cave, which served as a stable for flocks of sheep in the vicinity of Bethlehem – the town of his human ancestor – King David.  It went through the simplest manger, where feed was left for the livestock, through the prickly hay, through the rejection of the neighbors.  It continued through the flight into Egypt and simple years of childhood and youth in the forgotten Galilean town, which, it seems, had a bad reputation among the people.  His Sacrifice undergoes the rejection of those to whom He was sent, who dishonored Him by their ridicule and cruelty all the way to the Cross.  Nonetheless, Christ fulfilled His mission and accomplished the will of the Heavenly Father.

 

Each one of us is called to walk down His path, to continue His mission.  However, this requires our understanding of the fact that we are members of His Body, that is, the Church.  This demands of us an ever closer union with Him here on earth, a unity with Him in Love, in order to be able to unite ourselves with His Sacrifice, as participants in His mission.

 

In Christmas, in a mysterious and incomprehensible manner, the beginning of His mission is joined together with our foretaste of Heaven.  The beginning and end unite. Simultaneously, we have a call to come walk with Him on the way, and in doing so, we already have the power to experience in advance the foretaste of the joy of a completed journey.  Thus Christmas is not only the joy of a family celebration, not just the shimmering heavenly lights, but a call directed to each one of us, a call to set out on a journey.

 

At the time of beginnings of the Chosen People, God said to our Forefather Abraham in Ur of Chaldea: come out of yourself.  And this call is directed to each one of us: come out of yourself.  Come out of your preoccupation with daily monotony; come out of your fears and limitations and come stand before the manger in which the mission of Christ begins.  It is a mission which is not easy, but a necessary prerequisite for reaching the goal of our existence, – to be with God for all eternity.

 

Christ is Born!

+Stefan Soroka

Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians

Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM

Eparch of Stamford

+Benedict Aleksiychuk (author)

Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

+ Bohdan J. Danylo

Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma

+John Bura

Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

+Andriy Rabiy

Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

Christmas 2017


 

PYLYPIVKA (ADVENT) PASTORAL OF THE UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC HIERARCHY OF THE U.S.A.

 TO OUR CLERGY, HIEROMONKS AND BROTHERS, RELIGIOUS SISTERS, SEMINARIANS AND BELOVED FAITHFUL

Glory to Jesus Christ!

“Pylypivka” or Philip’s Fast that begins on November 14th is upon us. It is a time of preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are once again called to embark on a journey to welcome Emmanuel among us!  In a short forty days we will celebrate the Feast of Nativity of Our Lord.  At the Matins of the Nativity we will sing:

Christ is born, let us glorify Him. Christ comes down from heaven; let us go out and meet Him. Christ lives on earth, let us exalt in joy. All you faithful sing to the Lord, for He has been glorified.” Hirmos 1, Canon Matins of the Nativity of Our Lord.

How can we prepare ourselves to welcome God among us?  How will we glorify Him?  Can this Christmas season be a profound and spiritual experience for me?

In order to properly prepare to meet Christ on His feast of the Nativity, Mother Church is giving us forty days to challenge ourselves to live our Christian calling and vocation: to deepen knowledge of the Word of God, to live a life of community and personal prayer, and to perform acts of charity and mercy both in the church, and in the world.  In these three points, we can describe our vocation as a Christian, as well as the vocation of the entire Church.

If every parish is called to be a place to encounter the living Christ, then Christ the Teacher must have a central place in our lives and our parish life. Now is the time to daily set aside time for reading the Sacred Scripture and to meditate upon it.  We are also called to learning of Divine truth, the truths of the Christian faith

and the foundations of Christian life.

Gathered together “at the breaking of the bread”, that is at the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we are mystically united among ourselves, and are also united with Christ’s sacrifice, offered to God the Father for us and by us. The Eucharist is the center of the Christian life. The parish – the community gathers for the “breaking of the bread”, that is for the Eucharistic service. The Eucharist is at the same time the culmination of the parish life and also the source of all its spiritual blessings.  Let us invite a friend or neighbor to join us for the liturgical services in our parish community.

During these days, we are called both personally, and as a member of the community to pray, for oneself, and for others, to offer one’s self as a sacrifice to God, to forgive others and to ask God for forgiveness, to bless God and to be a blessing for others.

What is most important: all of us together are called to strive for holiness, to be a truly holy people. What does this mean? In parish life, every liturgical service and all of our liturgical practices and prayer life is to promote the sanctification of the time and the place where we are, and we ourselves become sanctified as well, as a gift consecrated to God. That is why during the time of preparation for coming of our Lord we should guard oneself from sin, and strive to grow in the virtue of moderation, purity of body and soul, according to one’s state in life.

We are also called to look beyond ourselves and be of service to others, especially the less fortunate among us. During the Philip Feast let us look at our community and find those who need our help and assistance. We can visit the sick, assist the poor, give food for the hungry, care for orphans, support those who suffer injustice, promote peace, and offer comfort for those grieving.  We can perform all of this in our community where we live and work, as the needy live among us.

Let us start this season together!  Let us pray, meditate upon the Word of God, sacrifice for one another and trust in God.    Then with joy we will be able to welcome God among us!

+Stefan Soroka

Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians

Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM

Eparch of Stamford

+Benedict Aleksiychuk

Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

+ Bohdan J. Danylo (author)

Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma

+John Bura

Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

+Andriy Rabiy

Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

Pylypivka 2017


 

Jubilarians Honored during Annual Archieparchial Wedding Anniversary Divine Liturgy Celebration

 

Philadelphia, Pa.–On Sunday, October 15, 2017, seventeen couples were honored during the Annual Wedding Anniversary Celebration during the Divine Liturgy at the golden-domed Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka was the main celebrant and homilist at the 11:00 A.M. Divine Liturgy, concelebrated by Very Reverend Roman Pitula, cathedral rector. Lisa Oprysk led the congregation in the singing of the liturgical responses. During his homily, Metropolitan Stefan offered congratulations to the jubilarians and said, “Thank you for having lived your covenant of marriage with great mercy and joy.  You lived it because of your deep love for one another.  You lived it because of your care for one another…  God’s hand was present throughout, known and unknown to you, and He promised this in the blessing you received in your marriage.” Just before the Dismissal, the Jubilarians, standing on the solea in front of the iconostas, renewed their marriage vows.  Metropolitan then bestowed a blessing upon each couple and sprinkled them with Holy Water.  Each couple was also presented with a commemorative blessing certificate by Metropolitan Stefan. After the Divine Liturgy, a dinner reception was held at the Archbishop’s residence for the anniversary couples and their guests.  The anniversary cake was cut by Peter and Bernadette Nush and Jason and Deborah Yulich, who were observing the longest and most recent wedding anniversaries, respectively. The celebration was coordinated by Very Rev. Archpriest John M. Fields, Director of Religious Education and Evangelization of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia. May the Lord, our God, continue to bless and grant to all the Archieparchial Jubilarians long life, peace, good health and happiness for many happy and blessed years! Watch a video and see pictures from the Anniversary Celebration on our “Archeparchy of Philadelphia” Facebook page.


 

TRAGEDY CONFRONTS OUR THOUGHTS AS TO THE VALUE OF LIFE

The recent tragic loss of life and well-being in Las Vegas and from the terrorism act in Edmonton, Canada, preceded by the loss of life and major hardships experienced as a result of hurricanes in the Caribbean Islands, Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas have caused all of us to reflect on the preciousness of life. As we pray for the victims of these tragedies, we reflect on the gift of life each of us is given. One’s thoughts during prayers are filled with thanksgiving for the gift of life. We renew our personal resolve to value and cherish this precious gift of life shared with loved ones. Hopefully each of us will be motivated to give greater thought and commitment to efforts to value and protect life from the conception of life to natural death. Perhaps our best testimony to the innocent lives lost in the tragedies of recent weeks could be our own commitment to ensure respect for life from conception to natural death.

The gift of life is endangered by destructive forces of nature, and the manipulative and controlling hearts and minds of humanity. Innocent life is daily taken by those who advocate abortion and euthanasia. Our efforts are needed to support people in every stage of life. Can we do more to advocate and assist those who are mentally and physically handicapped? The weak and elderly also require our love and attention for their special needs.

Let’s cherish the gift of life given to us generously by God. Express our gratitude to Almighty God in our prayers and with thankful hearts. Our expressions of gratitude ought to lead us to active commitment to love and serve in whatever ways are presented to us in the journey of life. Each October we renew our commitment for RESPECT FOR LIFE! Celebrate the giftedness of life given to us by God.

By Metropolitan Stefan Soroka


 

LIVE BROADCAST ON EWTN OF DIVINE LITURGY SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 24 AT 3 PM FROM UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION IN PHILADLEPHIA

On Sunday, September 24 at 3 PM, EWTN will telecast the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy celebrated by Bishop Andriy Rabiy from the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia. Responses will be sung by the choir of the Ukrainian National Shrine of the Holy Family, Washington, D.C. Watch on your EWTN TV Channel