Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross of Our Lord God And Savior, Jesus Christ

“We bow before Your Cross and we glorify Your Holy Resurrection”

(September 14, 27)

On the Gregorian calendar, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross is celebrated on September 14th.  The Feast is celebrated on the Julian calendar thirteen (13) days later, on September 27th. This Feast is of ancient origin and was already established in the fourth century.  St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great of Byzantium, went to the Holy Land in search of the true Cross of Christ.   Having found the three crosses, one of Christ and the other two of the criminals on each side of Christ, the authentic Cross was determined by healings (miracles) when the individuals were touched by the Cross and prayers invoked in the Name of the Lord.

The Archbishop of Jerusalem at that time had then taken the Cross of Our Lord and Savior and raised it, elevated it, for all the faithful present to see, bow and give praise and worship to the Lord God.  The elevation of the Holy Cross gave them and gives us today the opportunity to reflect upon the saving Death and Resurrection of Our Lord.  The Cross is a sign of victory and assured protection against the powers of evil.  To the non-believer the Cross appears to them to be “foolishness”, but to the true believer, it is the Power and Wisdom of God.  To the authentic Christian, the Cross is an integral part of their daily lives.  For just as the Lord carried His Cross patiently and lovingly, so too are we to carry our own personal crosses in like manner.

The Cross of Christ, an act of self-sacrificial Love, is to motivate us also to have an attitude of true humility and self-giving.  Having the Love of Christ within us, we are to put into practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.  We are to deal with others whom we meet with love, mercy, humility, patience, meekness, forgiveness and compassion.  Our Faith in Christ is to put into Action.  Our Faith is to be vibrant, alive and ever-ready to help our less-fortunate neighbor in need.  By the Power of the Cross we shall overcome evil and make present already here and now the Kingdom of God in our midst.  The prayer “Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” will take fruition.  Then, the presence of God will truly be in our midst.

Helping one another carry our crosses daily in a Christ-like manner will help a spirit of fraternity and trust among all peoples.  The Cross of Christ was followed by His triumphant Resurrection.  His Resurrection is a promise and pledge of our own resurrection, if we remain faithful to Christ to the end.  The Cross of Christ thereby is understood as a joyful sign of deliverance.

May our constant prayer be that of the Troparion designated for the Wednesdays and Fridays of each week: “Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance.  Grant victory to Your faithful people against enemies, and protect Your community by Your Cross.”

Rev. D. George Worschak




Statement of the Ukrainian Catholic Hierarchy of the United States on Commemoration of September 11

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

On September 11, 2001, the United States of America experienced the darkest hour in its recent history — the deadly terrorist attack that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people.

Twenty years have passed, but we still feel the consequences of the tragedy that shook the world and caused profound trauma in the global community. In one day we lost our sense of invulnerability. After September 11, we — our nation and all humanity — became a deeply wounded people.

But this is not where the story ends.  After September 11, 2001 we saw suffering and death, pain and sorrow but also courage, sacrifice, unity, and resurrection. During the attacks, evil manifested itself to be conquered by heroic love.

“Here in New York, we just don’t remember 9/11 — we celebrate 9/12,” commented Cardinal Timothy Dolan quoting one of the New York priests. This is our most precious memory — we remember the unspeakable tragedy and we remember what happened next. We remember solidarity, witness, prayer, service, and hope. In his appeal issued right after the attacks Metropolitan Stefan Soroka focuses on hope. “Christians are called to be primary instruments of hope and comfort to our fellow brothers and sisters… as opposed to be avenues of despair”. “Choose to be messengers of compassion and hope,” he asked our fellow faithful of Philadelphia Metropolia. We believe that this call is relevant today. The world has changed but many challenges remained, particularly the struggle for basic human rights and human dignity. Just as 20 years ago, we need peace and justice, which cannot be attained without repentance and forgiveness, faith and sacrifice.

Today the whole world is united in prayer for those who lost their lives during the attacks. We join the global supplication remembering in a special way before God twelve 9/11 victims of Ukrainian descent.

We encourage our priests and faithful to join together in prayer to remember those who died, were injured, or lost loved ones. Let us pray for strength, healing, and consolation. Let us pray for hope that conquers despair, peace that overcomes war, good that is stronger than evil, love that lives longer than hatred, life that triumphs over death. Let us put our hope and faith in Him who trampled death by death and gave eternal life to those in the tombs.

Eternal memory!

 

+ Borys Gudziak

Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians

Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States

+ Paul Chomnycky, OSBM

Eparch of Stamford

+ Вenedict Aleksiychuk

Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

+ Bohdan J. Danylo

Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma

+ Andriy Rabiy

Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia




Metropolitan Borys expressed condolences on occasion the death of Bishop Emeritus Severian Yakymyshyn

On behalf of Auxiliary Bishop Andriy Rabiy, priests, monks and nuns, and the faithful of the Philadelphia Archeparchy, metropolitan Borys Gudziak expressed his sincere sympathy and condolences to Bishop David Motiuk, Apostolic Administrator of the Eparchy of New Westminster and Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, previous exarch of New Westminster (2007-2020), superiors and brothers of the Order of Saint Basil the Great on the occasion of the repose in the Lord of Bishop Emeritus Severian Yakymyshyn.

“Being younger in age, priesthood, and episcopacy, I did not have the privilege to know Bishop Severian too well, but for many years I followed him from afar recognizing His energy and perseverance. He selflessly ministered to the needs of parishioners on the parishes he was assigned to, devotedly worked for the good of the Order of St. Basil the Great, which he entered as a young boy and remained faithful being involved on various positions in Canada and Rome, and, when it became possible, helped to restore the Order in Ukraine. Later, he took on the episcopal responsibility for the Ukrainian Catholic Church in western Canada, where it serves not only the descendants of Ukrainian migrants but all people of good will”, wrote the Archbishop.

 

April 22, 1930:           Born at Plain Lake, Alberta

March 16, 1945:         Entered the Novitiate of the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat (OSBM) in Mundare

November 21, 1946:  Made his Simple Vows in Mundare

January 1, 1953:        His Solemn Perpetual Vows in Rome, Italy

May 19, 1955:             Ordained a priest in Rome, Italy

1958:                            Received an STD in Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy

January 5, 1995:         Appointed Second Bishop of New Westminster

March 25, 1995:          Ordained to the Episcopate in Vancouver

1997-2007:                  Served as the eparchial bishop of New Westminster

June 1, 2007:               Retired

September 6, 2021:     Died in Vancouver, BC

 




“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)

Jesus Our Lord had given us two commands of LOVE to follow.  The first and greatest command is to love God completely and above all else and with one’s entire being – with all your heart, soul and mind.   The Lord tells us and the lawyer who put the Lord to the test that the second command of Love is liken to the first:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  The Lord then goes on to explain that upon these two commands of Love all the law and the prophets depend.

The keeping of the Ten Commandments are included in these two commands of Love.  The first three commandments are ways we are to express our love for God.  The other seven are ways we express a love for our neighbor as ourselves. Our love for God must come first in our daily lives.  A love for God involves the “total person” – heart, soul and mind.  Our priorities as Christians are right when we do this.

The second command to love one’s neighbor is not just one’s countrymen but rather is all-inclusive.  We as Christians are called to love even those who dislike or hate us.    We are called to pray for those who cause our harm or injury or may even persecute us.  The command to love others is one without distinction.

The two commands of love are linked together.  They are interrelated.  In the first epistle of John, chapter four we read: “We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God* whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

God is LOVE – absolute and pure.  He created us out of love in His own image and likeness.  God out of love for us, sinful mankind, sent His Only-Begotten Son into the world to save us from sin and gave us an example of what it is to be truly human.  Jesus is the Second Divine Person of the Most Blessed Trinity.  He has two natures: divine and human.  Jesus Christ was liken unto us in all things, except for sin.  He Himself was tempted by the devil, but withstood the temptations.  Jesus said “No” to the devil and did not sin.

He remained at all times obedient to the Will of His Heavenly Father.  In the Epistle to the Philippians, we read: “Rather, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance,   He humbled  Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” (4:8)

The Cross is an act of self-sacrificial Love. The Totally Innocent One took upon Himself the sin of the world.  By His death and resurrection Our Lord saved us from sin and the eternal condemnation and opened wide the gates to the Heavenly Kingdom.  We are told that whosoever believes in the Only-Begotten Son of God will not perish, but will live forever – be deemed worthy of entry into Heaven, the kingdom of God.

May the Love of Christ be within us.  May the Holy Spirit, a spirit of Love and Truth,  guide and protect us from all evil. May we share this love of Christ with all those we encounter, especially our brothers and sisters  in Christ in their hour of need.  In so doing, we shall give praise to God and continue Christ’s mission of saving souls.

Rev. D. George Worschak




Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God

“Your birth, O Virgin Mother of God, heralded joy to the universe, for from You rose the Son of Justice, Christ Our God.  He took away the curse, He imparted the blessing, and by abolishing death He gave us everlasting life.”  Tropar

On the Gregorian calendar, we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God on September 8th.  Sacred Scripture does not give any account of Mary’s birth.  Information of Her birth comes from non-Scriptural sources, namely the Proto-Gospel of James.  We learn that the Blessed Virgin Mary was born in the small city of Galilee called Nazareth.  The Jews of that time did not hold Galilee in good rapport. Remember in John 1:46, Nathanael asks Philip: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

Mary’s life was one of total humility and dedicated service to Almighty God.  Her parents, Joachim and Anna, were pious believers in Yahweh, the one true God. They were righteous in the eyes of God.  However, they had remained childless.  For the Jews of the Old Testament, childbearing was a blessing and a gift from God.  Mary’s parents were already elderly, but they had not given up hope of one day bearing a child.  They believed that all things are possible with God.  Their prayers were answered and there was great rejoicing.

The Birth or Nativity of Mary marks the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise to one day send a Messiah Who would free His people from sin and restore all creation to the harmony there once was before the fall of Adam and Eve.  This Marian Feast is of great importance in understanding salvation history.   Already was born the One Who would one day give birth to the Messiah, the Son of Justice, Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Our Church places this Marian Feast at the beginning of the church year.  September 1st marked the beginning of the new church or liturgical year.  It is but appropriate that the end of the church year would be marked by another Marian Feast, that of the Dormition or Falling Asleep of the Mother of God on August 15th. May we come to recognize the significant and central role Mary had in fulfilling God’s promise to save mankind, the world, from sin. May we be humble servants of the Lord God as was Mary.  May we seek to fulfill the Holy Will of God and live a life filled with the Holy Spirit as did Mary, the Mother of God and our spiritual Mother.

Rev. D. George Worschak

 




Feast for Today with Deacon Volodymyr. Episode 0. Intro.

The first day of September marks the beginning of the Church year. The Archeparchy of Philadelphia launched the series of podcasts about the 12 major feasts in the Ukrainian Catholic calendar. Please join Deacon Volodymyr Radko who will lead us through this liturgical year with his reflections.

 

UkrArchPhila · 12 Feasts for Today with Deacon Volodymyr. Introduction



Centralia. A site of pilgrimage

This year, as last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was no pilgrimage to the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin in Centralia, which has become a tradition for the Archeparchy of Philadelphia since 2016. 

Rev. Micheal Hutsko

​​Patriarch Sviatoslav came here and he was just moved to tears by how beautiful this property is, how symbolic it is, that this church stands looking at the devastation of the mine fire and the former town, and the fact that the church is built on rock. And he said that it is to be a place of prayer. He went back to Kyiv and has sent us a decree saying that it is to be a place of pilgrimage not only for Ukrainian Catholics but for all people. At the end of August, we have a day of prayer, a pilgrimage. 

Through all historic twists and turns, the parish has found a reason to live. A reason why they did not end up in town, why the Lord in His own way moved them here, why when everyone had to leave town abandoning their churches and their homes, this place remained. It was to become a place of prayer. The Lord, I believe, had this plan from the start of time.

We had four pilgrimages. We had to cancel because of COVID last year and this year. Hundreds and hundreds of people come from everywhere on the last Sunday of August here to pray. We set up shrines in different parts of the property for prayer and veneration. It has given the parish a new life. We have an older population but also some families with kids in college who come to church regularly. They still come back; it is still a home for them. It is their heritage.   

 

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic church in Centralia, PA was founded in 1911 and celebrated its 110th anniversary this year. On August 15, 1911, a committee decided to form its own parish and build a church. Construction finished in 1912 and the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Reverend Yosyf Bernatskiy from Keiser. A building to serve as a parish school was also acquired.

The town of Centralia rapidly developed during the coal mining era and suffered greatly during the Great Depression. Perhaps the most dramatic change, however, occurred on May 27, 1962 when a fire spread from a surface mine to underground seams and kept burning. More than 1,000 people moved out and 500 structures were demolished. 

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the last of Centralia’s seven churches. The others include First United Methodist Church (1863-1985), Holy Trinity Episcopal Church (1866-1966), a Presbyterian church (1867-1954), St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church (1869-1995), First English Baptist Church (1887-1917), and St. Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church (1916-1986). 

The Ukrainian Catholic church was also at risk of being destroyed. However, Archbishop Stephen Sulyk ordered a survey to be conducted under the hillside church, and solid rock rather than coal was found, so the building was saved.

In November 2015 the head of the UGCC, Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, visited Centralia during a tour of the US. He was so impressed by the church that he designated it a pilgrimage site. The first pilgrimage took place in August 2016.

Annual Marian pilgrimage draws hundreds to abandoned town, Centralia Pa.

https://thedialog.org/regional-news/annual-marian-pilgrimage-draws-hundreds-to-abandoned-town-centralia-pa/     

 

 




The Parable of the Wedding Feast

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come.

A second time: ‘Tell those invited: “everything is ready; come to the feast.”’ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.” (Matthew 22:2-4)

This most definitely is no way to respond to the generous, kind invitation of the king to joyously celebrate the wedding of the king’s son.  The king prepared a feast or banquet in celebration of this joyous event.   The fattened calves and fattened cattle were killed and all was prepared to begin the banquet.  The message to the invited guests was: “Everything is ready, come to the feast.”  However, those first invited ignored the cordial invitation.  They make excuses of various kinds as to why they cannot come:  some just ignore it and leave, another to his farm, another to his business.  Some do not merely refuse to accept the king’s invitation, but lay hold of the messenger servants and mistreat or even kill them.  We read that the king is upset (enraged) over their refusal and mistreatment of the messenger servants.  The king then sent his troops to punish them.

The king regards these first invited as not worthy to attend.  He then orders the messenger servants to go out “into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.”  The banquet hall is now filled with guests.  The invitation is an open one to the good and to the bad.

God’s love for man is for all.  God calls each and every one of us to salvation, to come and partake of the Heavenly Banquet.  All, however, will not respond positively to this invitation.  God is calling us to love Him above any other person and any other thing or possession.  God is to be at the center of our daily lives.  We need to set our priorities straight so that when the King calls us to the Heavenly Banquet we may be willing and ready to respond “yes”.  We are to “set aside every earthly care.” God alone is to have the first place in our daily lives.  Those in today’s gospel speak about going to one’s farm or taking care of some business.  For us today, the distractions may be money, power or prestige.  May we be living in the Spirit of Christ so as to be ready to open our hearts to the Lord and follow His Holy Will.

We who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  We’ve taken off the old self laden with sin and put on Christ.  The baptized in Christ have been cleansed of all sin.  The baptized have promised to serve Christ.  This decision to serve the Lord is not just a one-day occurrence.  But rather, the Christian life is to be lived all the days of our lives.  The guest who came to the wedding feast without the proper attire (clothing) showed a lack of respect and concern for the ways of the king.  Likewise, when we stand before the Lord God seeking entry into the banquet in the eternal Kingdom of God, may we be properly clothed.  The true Christian remains a humble servant of the Master who seeks to render constant praise to the eternal God.

When our time comes and indeed only the Lord God knows the hour and the day, may we be ready having “put on” Christ and living in the grace of God.  May our lives be so in tune with the Lord that we could say as did St. Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives within me.  Our hearts are to remain open to keep the Commandments to live according to the Holy Will of God.  May we be humble servants of the Lord who live here on earth “with and in Christ” in order to one day live forever with Him in Heaven.  May we enter into that place of Light where all the just and saints repose.

Rev. D. George Worschak




“They will respect my son”  (Matthew 21:37)

“Let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.” (v.38)

The Love of God for us, His creatures, is constant, unwavering and unconditional.  God out of love created each of us in His own image and likeness.  Adam and Eve were meant to live forever with God in the Garden of Paradise.  However, when they disobeyed God and listened to the evil one, the devil, and had fallen into sin, there were definite consequences to this sin of disobeying the Holy Will of God.  Man would have to work by the sweat of his brow and would experience death.

God did not leave mankind without the hope of redemption.  God promised that He would one day send a Messiah, Redeemer, to deliver us from the clutches of the evil one.  God had been preparing His people to be a holy people.  God sent Moses to lead the people away from idolatry and to believe in the one, true God.  God had given Moses the Ten Commandments to help the Chosen People, the Israelites, to live good and holy lives.  These very same Ten Commandments remain at the center of our Faith and are a guide to good moral living.

Moses had led his people to deliverance – freedom from slavery under the Egyptians and freedom from the bondage of sin.  The Chosen People crossed the Red Sea unharmed as the pursuit by the Pharaoh’s army was stopped by the hand of God as they drowned in the sea.  For forty years the Israelites traversed the desert in search of the Promised Land.  Moses had seen the Promised Land from a distance, but did not enter.  Aaron, Moses’ brother, would be the one to actually lead them into the Promised Land, the land of milk and honey.  There they were to be continually prepared to become the holy People of God from Whom would one day be born the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

The prophets of the Old Testament sought to bring about a metanoia, conversion, a change of heart.  The Prophets were the spokesmen of God.  They were given a special and unique mission by the Almighty God to fulfil. The Prophets did not speak their own words, but rather they spoke the Word of God.  They had a calling from God to fulfill this holy task and they responded “yes.”  Their message was one of conversion:  turning away from sin and turning back to God. This they did despite the ongoing suffering they experienced from their own people. They were rejected and hated and yet they faithfully completed their God-given task.  Some wished to permanently silence them and they stoned the holy men of God, the Prophets, to death.

Despite all this hatred, anger and rejection, God still loved His creatures.  In the fullness of time God the Almighty Father sent His Only Begotten to redeem the world from sin.  Instead of respecting His Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the opponents plotted against Him.  They incited the crowd to turn against the One Whom they had just acclaimed as King of Israel in the Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem just days prior.  The One Who was totally without sin took upon Himself the sin of the world to open wide the gates to the Kingdom of God, Heaven.

Today’s parable reminds us that we are servants of the Lord God who are to work arduously and bear fruit through our good works.  There is absolutely no place for jealousy or anger or hatred in the life of a true-believer, an authentic Christian.  In the end we shall see that the holy men and women chosen by God to fulfill His mission and did so faithfully may have been rejected, suffered and even died.  Nonetheless, these holy ones of God followed Christ Who was rejected by those of His time but has become the “cornerstone” of the structure.  And truly, this is marvellous to behold.

Rev. D. George Worschak




“The Seven Sacraments” Summer Camp held in Philadelphia

During August 16-20, 2021 a Summer Camp for Children “Vacation with God: The Seven Sacraments” was held at the Basilian Spirituality Center in Jenkintown, PA. The camp was organized and sponsored by St. Sophia Religious Association of Ukrainian Catholics, Inc. and the Sisters of the Order of Saint Basil the Great. Some 30 children aged 6-13 from various parts of the Philadelphia area participated in the event.
The organizers worked on the topic with the idea of the Holy Sacraments of the Church. The sacraments are signs, that is, words and deeds established by Jesus to bestow special graces on those who receive them in faith. Through the sacraments, Jesus is present in a special way among the faithful: “Therefore I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).
The Catholic Church recognizes the seven Holy Sacraments.
1. Baptism.
2. Anointing.
3. The Eucharist.
4. Repentance.
5. Anointing.
6. The priesthood.
7. The matrimony.
The camp’s program was created with the goal of molding the spiritual and cultural heritage of the Ukrainian people. The children enjoyed catechism classes, songs, dances, crafts, embroidery, and games. The program was coordinated by Iryna Ivankovych, President of St. Sophia Religious Association, and conducted by Sisters of St. Basil the Great: Sr. Olha Mykhayliuk, and Sr. Rose Ann, Sr. Lydia Sawka, Sr. Teodora Kopyn, with the help of many young volunteers. Divine Liturgies for the participants of the camp were celebrated by: Fr. John Ciurpita and Fr. Ruslan Borovyy.
This is the fourth joint initiative of St. Sophia Religious Association of Ukrainian Catholics, Inc. and the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great in the field of spiritual education of the young Ukrainians in the USA.
St. Sophia Press Bureau