Praise be Jesus Christ!

On November 14th, we began observing ‘Pylypivka’ or St. Philip’s Fast in preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of the Birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Society around is now entering a period of aggressively attempting to increase and enhance our appetite for goods, gifts, and items deemed necessary for the celebration of Christmas. It is difficult for most of us to withdraw from our earthly appetites as we attempt to make more time for prayer and meditation. From whom can we get some direction?

The Blessed and Holy Martyrs of our Ukrainian Catholic Church inspire us to surrender more of ourselves. Their sacrifice of life in the face of persecution and for God’s kingdom minimizes any excuses you and I may offer in neglecting making sacrifices for our faith in our daily life. We are quickly becoming a generation of people feeling entitled to daily privileges and rights, and even in our journey of faith. This attitude of feeling entitled deprives us of choosing that which has deeper and more significant meaning in our life. We even begin to presume Our Lord by not choosing to be excitedly motivated to meet him in celebrating his holy feast in his holy Church.

Christmas is coming! Bright lights and festivities surround us and lift our spirits. You and I share a responsibility to brightly shine with our light of baptism. “Pylypivka’ summons you and me to pause. We are reminded to meditate on our journey of faith with Jesus. Be still, calm yourself and hear the voice of Jesus in your life. Surrender more time for prayer and thoughtful meditation. Search for Jesus with more frequent participation in worship in your parish. Then let Jesus be the source of your energy and that which you value in your daily life. You will enjoy peace and joy which cannot be bought or garnered in the busyness of the world around us.

You and I are called to rekindle our light of faith to call others to Jesus. Choose to be a thankful person, rejoicing in your love for God. Choose to be a person of hope, offering encouragement and assistance to others struggling in daily life. You will be a source of light and renewal for others, even unknowingly at times. The Lord’s presence and peace will descend upon others and surround them with his joy and peace.   You truly will then be preparing for the joyous celebration of Jesus’ birth.

Thanksgiving Day provides opportunity for families and friends to gather and enjoy their common bond and love for one another. When proclaiming Thanksgiving Day in 1789, President Washington cited the importance of our unity in rendering thanks to God, and in offering prayers and supplications for the pardon of our transgressions. Celebrating forgiveness and seeking God’s forgiveness in the Holy Mystery or Sacrament of Confession is a life-giving way to humble ourselves before God and invite Him into our daily life. Choose to go to confession more often so as to come nearer to God in daily life.

George Washington also called for us “to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue”. We do this as we pray and support the many throughout the world who suffer persecution because of their faith. Particularly we pray for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine who face persecution and the onset of war and terrorism. We also pray for our suffering Christian brothers and sisters in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and various parts of Africa, some of whom need to flee their homelands because of persecution and war. You and I are called to raise our voices through our democratically elected leaders to express our outrage as to the loss of life and devastation which is occurring in various parts of the world. Let us be thankful for the peace we enjoy in our nation with prayers and actions in defense of others who do not enjoy the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue.

May your ‘Pylypivka’ journey be especially blessed with many opportunities for spiritual renewal and may you enjoy a joyful Thanksgiving!

+Stefan Soroka(author)
Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians
Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States

+Richard Seminack
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM
Eparch of Stamford

+ Bohdan Danylo
Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma

+John Bura
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

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