РІЗДВЯНЕ ПОСЛАННЯ БЛАЖЕННІШОГО СВЯТОСЛАВА

Високопреосвященним і преосвященним архиєпископам і митрополитам,
боголюбивим єпископам, всечесному духовенству,
преподобному монашеству, возлюбленим братам і сестрам,
в Україні та на поселеннях у світі сущим

Ви ж знаєте ласку Господа нашого Ісуса Христа,
що задля вас став бідним, бувши багатим,
щоб ви його вбожеством розбагатіли.
2 Кор. 8, 9

 

Христос народився! Славімо Його!

Дорогі в Христі!

Важко повірити, наскільки змінилося наше життя від останньої коляди минулого року до першого «Бог предвічний» цьогорічної різдвяної ночі. Упродовж 2020 року всі ми немовби були перенесені в інший світ—світ страху та непевності перед невідомим. Та незважаючи на обмеження, випробування і людські втрати через пандемію коронавірусу, ми разом, як Церква, у своїх родинах, парафіях, громадах і країнах не перестали бути носіями доброї новини надії, любові та радості. Тож цього року з нагоди Різдва Христового маємо в особливий спосіб засвідчити перед іншими про «велику радість, що буде радістю всього народу: сьогодні народився вам у місті Давидовім Спаситель, він же Христос Господь» (Лк. 2, 10–11).
Таїнство Різдва Христового – це радість приходу Божого Сина у світ, сповнений бідою, болем і стражданням людини. Він залишає небесну славу, щоби ввійти в людську неміч усіх часів, культур і народів. Христос-Бог стає не просто людиною, а людиною вбогою, людиною, яка страждає від початку свого земного життя. Предвічний Бог входить у людську історію і переживає людський голод та холод, біль та хвороби, ворожість та байдужість суспільства.
Новонароджений Бог-Безхатченко – яка це дивна суперечність, яка це дивна божественна убогість! Всемогутній Бог стає бідним, щоби нас збагатити. Цар всесвіту покладений «у біднім вертепі, в ясла на сіні», щоб нам простелити шлях до небесних осель. Вдивляючись у це таїнство, св. Григорій Богослов каже: «Той хто збагачує, став убогим; прийняв бо убогість моєї плоті, щоб я став багатим в Його божестві.» (Oratio 45, 9). Прийшов Господь, який своїми ранами зцілює наші рани, нашу слабкість, нашу біду. І Він залишається з роду в рід нашим Еммануїлом, що означає «з нами — Бог», у наших потребах, болях і стражданнях. Присутність воплоченого Бога в людській історії і в нашому житті є нашою безнастанною та невід’ємною радістю, як у день Різдва Христового, так і в усі дні нашого життя.
Вживаючи в побутовому спілкуванні якесь слово, ми зазвичай не замислюємося над його походженням і значенням. Мова розвивається стихійно і стрімко – ми забуваємо, звідки це слово виринуло, розминаємося з його глибиною. Так є із поняттям «убогий», яке вказує на бідну людину. Однак, якщо подивимося, як це слово утворене, то зрозуміємо, що «у-Богий» – це людина через яку Господь до нас приходить, особа яка є «у Бога», тобто під особливою опікою Всевишнього.
Христос учить нас, що фізично вбогі та вбогі духом, або покірні, є щасливі – блаженні, бо саме їм належить Царство Небесне (пор. Лк. 6, 20). Для вбогого останньою надією, опорою і спасінням є лише Бог. Його доля завжди лежить у Божих руках. А Господь особливо чутливий до того, як ми ставимося до Його вбогих, себто до потребуючих, знедолених, безхатченків, голодних, самотніх, вдів і сиріт. Хто зневажає вбогих – зневажає свого Творця. Кривдити таких людей – значить чинити гріх, який кличе до неба про помсту!
Цього року Синод єпископів нашої Церкви зосередив увагу вірних саме на обличчі сучасної бідності. Заохочую вас дослухатися до Синодального послання під назвою «Залишиться вам одне – те, що ви дали вбогому!» та розглянути його у світлі вифлеємської зорі, споглядаючи обличчя новонародженого Спасителя. Боже Дитя присутнє в кожній потребуючій людині, яка стукає до нашого серця, як Йосиф стукав у двері заїздів у Вифлеємі.
Тоді до цього міста Давида спішили мудреці зі Сходу, щоби принести Цареві віків, що народився як мале дитя у вертепі, ладан, золото і миро. Сьогодні немовля Ісус присутній у хворих, немічних, самотніх, опущених, які чекають, щоби їм хтось допоміг, приніс дари – золоте, тепле слово, ладан християнського братерства і миро невідкладної допомоги, яка їм необхідна. Хто простягає руку вбогому – той багатіє в Бога і стає причасником вічних благ самого Творця!
Ми святкуємо Різдво в умовах всесвітнього болю людини, спричиненого пандемією коронавірусу. Усіх наслідків і облич цієї біди ми ще вповні не збагнули і не усвідомили. Не відомо, які зміни чекають нас у сфері економіки, суспільно-громадського та церковного життя… Але ми вже зрозуміли, що вірус не цікавиться ні нашим місцем проживання, ні нашим достатком чи соціальним статусом. Усі ми однаково перебуваємо в небезпеці захворювання, а новітня загроза вбогості торкає всі закутки світу. Усі ми однаково потребуємо такої допомоги і сили, яка виходить за межі людських можливостей і сил. Тому Різдво Христове є для нас світлом надії та радості серед теперішньої темряви страху і розгубленості, і кожен із нас має бути відкритий для Божої благодаті, яка виливається на нас постійно, навіть у найтяжчі часи.
Святкувати Різдво в час пандемії – це просвічувати тих, хто в темряві, як це сповістив пророк Ісая: «Народ, який сидів у темноті, побачив велике світло; тим, що сиділи в країні й тіні смерти, – зійшло їм світло» (Іс. 9, 2; пор. Мт. 4, 16). Якщо нам дозволено зустрічатися, – звичайно, із дотриманням дистанції, – хай наша радість буде всім явна в наших очах. Носімо захисні маски, якщо потрібно, але не даймо, щоб вони приглушили спів наших традиційних колядок. Святкуймо, хто як може. Оспівуймо народження Спасителя в межах можливого, аби навіть у цій пандемії через нас передавалася найважливіша істина людської історії, що ми не самотні та покинуті, бо «З нами – Бог»!
Принесімо сьогодні разом до Вифлеєма в дар новонародженому Спасу нашу власну убогість і рани сучасного людства та просімо Його про багатство Божої мудрості для подолання цієї хвороби, про багатство Божої сили, щоби впоратися з її наслідками для суспільства, життя і здоров’я кожної людини, а передовсім – просімо про багатство Його любові, яка єдина здатна відновити наш стривожений світ і дарувати йому надію, безпеку та радість. Не втеча від страждання, яке нависає сьогодні над всіма нами, а солідарність і близькість із тими, хто є в потребі, співучасть у болю та тривозі дасть нам можливість тішитися і по-справжньому святкувати цьогорічне Різдво. Тож спішімо до цьогорічного вертепу, де у яслах на сіні спочиває наш Спаситель, і разом із пастирями та мудрецями заспіваймо:
Бог предвічний народився!
Прийшов днесь із небес,
Щоб спасти люд свій ввесь,
І утішив вся!
Дорогі брати і сестри! Незважаючи на нашу вбогість і неміч, сьогодні всі ми багаті в радості та любові новонародженого Спаса. Із Різдвом Христовим щиро вітаю вас усіх: від Києва до Лондона, від Буенос-Айреса до Мельбурна, від Вінніпега до Зеленого Клину, – хто сьогодні святкує в колі родини і хто тримається на певній відстані від рідних, щоб нікого не наражати на небезпеку, хто має змогу зайти до храму на святкову Службу і хто ще вдома єднається у спільній молитві через соціальні мережі. Особливо вітаю всіх медичних працівників, які, незважаючи на реальну небезпеку для себе і своїх близьких, невтомно і жертовно дарують свій час та свої таланти задля здоров’я інших. Обіймаю тих, хто страждає від тілесних і душевних ран. Посилаю слово потіхи тим, які цього року втратили рідних і близьких і яким особливо важко в цей Святий вечір сідати до столу. Єднаюся в молитві з тими, хто безстрашно стоїть на фронті та захищає нашу державу і рідний народ, ризикуючи своїм життям не тільки перед загрозою підступних снайперських куль, а й мікроскопічного ворога-вірусу, який наступив на нас і завдає нам додаткового терпіння і тривоги. Нехай всемилостивий Господь, який у своїй безконечній любові завітав до нашої вбогості, наповнить серця кожного і кожної з вас, дорогі брати і сестри, Своїм миром, Своєю благодаттю і надією!
Від щирого серця бажаю всім вам справжньої радості дітей Божих, смачної куті, веселих свят Різдва Христового та щасливого, мирного і благословенного нового року!

Христос народився! Славімо Його!

† СВЯТОСЛАВ

Дано в Києві,
при Патріаршому соборі Воскресіння Христового,
у день Святого всехвального апостола Андрія Первозванного,
13 грудня 2020 року Божого

CHRISTMAS 2020 PASTORAL LETTER OF HIS BEATITUDE SVIATOSLAV

Most Reverend Archbishops and Metropolitans,
God-loving Bishops, Very Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics,
Dearly Beloved Brothers and Sisters,
in Ukraine and throughout the world

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor,
so that you by his poverty might become rich.
2 Cor 8:9

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Beloved in Christ!

It is hard to believe how our life has changed from the final carol of last year to the first “Boh Predvichnyj” (God Pre-eternal) of this year’s Christmas Eve. Throughout 2020 we were, it would seem, transported into a different world—a world of fear and uncertainty before the unknown. Yet, in spite of the restrictions, challenges, and human losses we endured due to the coronavirus pandemic, together, as Church, in our families, parishes, communities, and countries, we did not cease to proclaim the good news of hope, love, and joy. And so, this year on the occasion of Christ’s Nativity, we are called in a special way to bear witness before others to the “good news of great joy that will be for all the people: for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11).
The mystery of Christmas is found in the joy of the coming of the Son of God into a world, full of affliction, pain, and suffering. He leaves heavenly glory in order to enter into the human frailty of all times, cultures, and people. Christ-God becomes not just a human being, but a poor human being, a person who suffers from the beginning of His earthly life. The Pre-eternal God enters into human history and experiences human hunger and cold, pain and sickness, adversity, and the indifference of society.
A homeless newborn God—what a strange contradiction, what wonder is this divine poverty! The Almighty God becomes poor in order to enrich us. The King of the Universe is placed “in a poor stable-cave, in a manger on hay” (from the carol, Vozveselimsya vsi razom nyni), in order to set a path for us to the heavenly abode. Gazing at this mystery St. Gregory the Theologian says: “The One who enriches became poor; for he took on the poverty of my flesh, in order that I may be enriched in His divinity” (Oratio 45, 9). The Lord has come, the One who with His wounds heals our wounds, our weakness, our affliction. And He remains from generation to generation our Emmanuel, which means “God is with us,” in our needs, pains, and sufferings. The presence of the incarnate God in human history and in our life is our constant and endless joy, both on Nativity Day, and all the days of our life.
In everyday life we sometimes use a word without thinking about its origin or meaning. Language evolves spontaneously and abruptly— we forget where the word came from and fail to grasp its depth. This is the case of the Ukrainian word ubohyj, which is used to describe a poor person. However, when we examine how this word is constructed, we understand that u-Bohyj (in God) is a person through whom the Lord comes to us, a person who is “in God,” that is, under the special care of the Almighty.
Christ teaches us that the materially poor and the poor in spirit, the humble, are happy, are blessed, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven (see Lk 6:20). Only God is the last hope, support, and salvation for the poor. Their fate is always in God’s hands. And the Lord is especially sensitive to how we treat His poor, that is, the needy, downtrodden, homeless, hungry, lonely, widows, and orphans. Those who disregard the poor scorn their Creator. To wrong such persons is to commit a sin that calls to heaven for vengeance!
This year, in fact, the Synod of Bishops of our Church focused its attention on the face of poverty today. I encourage you to heed the Synodal pastoral letter, entitled “Only one thing will remain yours – that which you have given to the poor!” and examine it in the light of the star of Bethlehem, contemplating the face of the newborn Savior. The Divine Child is present in every destitute person who knocks on the door of our heart, as Joseph knocked on the doors of the inns in Bethlehem.
Then, the wise men from the East hurried to the town of David, in order to bring gifts to the King of the ages, who was born as a little child in a stable-cave—gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Today, the infant Jesus is present in the sick, the frail, the homeless, and the neglected, who wait for someone to help them, to bring them gifts—the gold of a compassionate word, the incense of brotherhood, and the myrrh of immediate assistance, necessary for life. Those who stretch out their hand to the poor become rich with God and become partakers in the eternal goodness of the Creator Himself.
We are celebrating Christmas in the midst of a worldwide situation of human anguish, brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. We have not yet fully grasped or understood all the consequences and faces of this global misfortune. We do not know what changes await us in the sphere of economic, social-community, and church life… But we have already understood that the virus is not interested, neither in our place of residence, nor in our wealth or social status. All of us are equally in danger of infection, and a new threat of poverty hangs over all corners of the globe. All of us in the same way need the kind of help and strength that goes beyond human abilities and power. For this reason, Christ’s Nativity is for us a ray of hope and joy in the midst of today’s dark fear and confusion, and each one of us must be open to God’s grace, which pours out on us without ceasing, even in the worst of times.
To celebrate Christmas in a time of pandemic is to enlighten those who dwell in darkness, as the prophet Isaiah foretold: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2). If we are permitted to gather—with proper distancing, of course—may our eyes shine with a joy that is visible to all. Let us wear masks, when necessary, but let them not silence our traditional carols. Let us celebrate as we are able. Let us acclaim the birth of the Savior, however possible, so that even in this pandemic we might bear witness to the most important truth of human history—that we are not alone or abandoned, because “God is with us!”
Today let us bring to Bethlehem as our gift for the newborn Savior our own poverty and the wounds of humanity today, and let us ask Him for the richness of Divine wisdom in order to overcome this disease, for the fullness of divine strength in order to deal with its effects on society, on the life and health of every person. Above all, let us ask for the richness of His love, which alone can restore this distressed world of ours, and grant it hope, security, and joy. Solidarity with and closeness to those in need, participation in their pain and anxiety, rather than escape from the suffering that hangs over us all today—this will grant us the possibility to be merry and truly celebrate Christmas this year. Therefore, let us hurry to the creche where our Savior rests in a manger, and together with the shepherds and wise men let us sing:
The pre-eternal God has been born!
Today he came from the heavens,
To save all his people,
And has comforted all!
Dear Brother and Sisters! In spite of our poverty and frailty, today we are rich in the joy and love of our newborn Savior. With Christ’s Nativity, I sincerely greet you all: from Kyiv to London, from Buenos Aires to Melbourne, from Winnipeg to Zelenyj Klyn—those who are celebrating today in their family circle and those who are keeping distance from their loved ones to protect them from danger, those who are able to attend church services for the Feast, and those who at home join in community prayer through social media. I especially greet all medical workers who, in spite of real danger to themselves and their families, tirelessly and with great sacrifice give of their time and talents for the health of others. I embrace those who suffer physical and spiritual wounds. I send a word of comfort to those who this year lost family members and friends, and for whom it is particularly painful to approach the festive table this Christmas eve. I unite myself in prayer with those who fearlessly stand on the frontlines and defend our country and people, risking their lives not only before the threat of the insidious sniper’s bullet, but also before the microscopic virus-enemy that has come upon us and inflicts on us added suffering and distress. May the all-merciful Lord, who in His infinite love has visited our poverty, fill the heart of each and every one of us, Dear Brothers and Sisters, with His peace, His grace and hope!
From the bottom of my heart, I wish all of you the authentic joy of the children of God, a tasty kutia, a cheerful celebration of Christ’s Nativity, and a happy, peaceful, and blessed New Year!

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

† SVIATOSLAV

Given in Kyiv
at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ,
on the day of the all-praiseworthy Apostle Andrew the First-called
the 13th of December (30th of November) in the 2020th Year of our Lord

ПАСТИРСЬКЕ ПОСЛАННЯ ІЄРАРХІВ УКРАЇНСЬКОЇ КАТОЛИЦЬКОЇ ЦЕРКВИ США НА ПИЛИПІВКУ ВСЕЧЕСНІШОМУ ДУХОВЕНСТВУ, ПРЕПОДОБНОМУ МОНАШЕСТВУ, СЕМІНАРИСТАМ, НАШИМ ДОРОГИМ ВІРНИМ УКРАЇНСЬКОЇ КАТОЛИЦЬКОЇ ЦЕРКВИ В СПОЛУЧЕНИХ ШТАТАХ АМЕРИКИ,

Слава Ісусу Христу!

Вже надходить Пилипівка, радісний 40-денний піст, який розпочинається 15 листопада, день після почитання св. Апостола Пилипа, та триватиме до 24 грудня, Навечір’я Різдва Христового. Цей час є уділений нам для духовного приготування до величавого празника – Різдва Господа нашого Ісуса Христа. Цей час даний нам для глибокого усвідомлення Божої тайни – воплочення Божого Сина та приходу Месії, Царя Миру, Еммануїла та Світла світу. Це час віднайти у цьому правдиву радість через молитву, розважання та діла милосердя, а не у штучній атмосфері радості Різдвяних вечірок, купівлі та обміну подарунків і наготованих смаколиків на столі.

Ми можемо думати, що прихід Христа є звершеною подією, історичним фактом минулого, а очікування Його приходу має для нас радше символічне значення. Це не так! Христос завжди приходить до нас. Він постійно народжується духовно у серці кожної особи, яка вірує та очікує Його. Він приходить до нас у молитві та Святих Тайнах, особливо у Святій Сповіді та Причасті. Він приходить, щоби бути з нами і між нами.

Саме у час посту розуміння факту приходу Христа і Його присутності серед нас набирає особливого значення для нас цього року. Серед неспинної пандемії, перенесення захворювання вірусом, пережиття втрати рідних та знайомих, політичних незгод та нестабільності, заворушень, війн та порушень прав людини у різних кутках світу, ми є спраглі глибокого усвідомлення і переконання у тому, що Христос Господь насправді є присутній серед нас, а Його ласка є життєдайною та необхідною.

Пилипівка символізує Старий Завіт та світ, який завмер в очікуванні приходу Христа та Світла світу. Ми почуємо читання з книг стародавніх пророків Наума, Авакума, Даниїла та Ісаї, які пророкували про Його прихід вісім століть перед тим, як Він народився. Вони згадували, що Месія народиться у Вифлеємі, про втечу Пресвятої Родини до Єгипту та її повернення до Назарету, про зцілення недужих, про відкинення Його вибраним народом, про зраду та продаж Його одним з апостолів за тридцять сробняків, про розп’яття між розбійниками, про проколений списом бік, про Його Воскресіння та вознесіння на небо. Пізніше, святі євангелисти, пишучи євангелія під надхненням Святого Духа, додадуть ці пророцтва, щоби показати нам, що Ісус Христос є тим Месією, якого усі очікували, і є направду Сином Божим.

Історія спасіння не закінчується з приходом Христа 2000 років тому, а продовжується до сьогодні. Ми всі є в очікуванні Його другого приходу, про який Він сам пророкував, і буде дуже різнитися від першого. Коли Христос прийде удруге, усі Його впізнають. Бо коли він прийшов вперше, Його не злюбили та відкинули. Коли Він прийде вдруге, всі племена визнають Його Господом. Бо коли Він прийшов вперше, то тільки дванадцять апостолів пішли за Ним. Коли Він прийде вдруге, прийдуть з Ним численні ангели. Бо коли він прийшов вперше, Він був безпомічним немовлятком у яслах. Коли Він прийде вдруге, Він буде Царем над царями та Паном над панами. Ось чому очікування приходу Христа не є і не може бути символічним, а цілком правдивою подією – Він прийде вдруге.

Увпродовж Різдвяного посту зробімо наші приготування до Різдва головно духовними. Створіть молитовний куток у своїй хаті та виставте ікону Різдва Христового, розважуючи денно над тайною приходу Месії. Приступімо до святої Сповіді та святого Причастя у ці дні, особливо якщо не зробили цього під час Великого Посту. Стримуймося від м’яса у п’ятниці, переїдання та надмірного користування Інтернетом. Будьмо щедрими з своїм часом і талантами та послужімо бідним і знедоленим чим можемо. Помирімся з тими кого образили. Будьмо завжди свідомі, що Ісус Христос прийде вдруге як наш Господь і Суддя, а «про цей день і годину ніхто не знає» (Мт. 24:36).

Нехай благословить Вас Господь Ісус Христос, Різдво Якого у вертепі Вифлеємському ми радісно чекаємо!

 

+Борис Ґудзіак
Митрополит Української Католицької Церкви у США
Архиєпископ Філадельфійський для Укpаїнців
+Преосвященний Павло Хомницький, ЧСВВ
Єпископ Стемфордської єпархії
+Преосвященний Венедикт Алексійчук
Єпископ Чіказької єпархії святого Миколая
+Преосвященний Богдан Данило
Єпископ Пармської єпархії святого Йосафата
+Преосвященний Андрій Рабій (автор)
Єпископ-Помічник Філадельфійський
листопад 2020 р. Б.

PHILIP’S FAST (PYLYPIVKA) 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!

St. Philip’s Fast or Pylypivka is about to start. It is a joyful 40-day fast, which begins on November 15, the day after the feast of the apostle St. Philip, and lasts until December 24, Christmas Eve. This fast is meant to prepare us spiritually for the great and solemn holyday – the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the time given to us to deepen our understanding and awareness of God’s mystery – the Incarnation of the Son of God and the coming of the Messiah, the King of Peace, Emmanuel and the Light of the world. It is time for us to find and rediscover true joy of the Nativity of Our Lord through prayer, meditation, and acts of charity, not like it is in the artificial atmosphere of Christmas parties, buying and exchanging gifts and enjoying specially prepared holiday delicacies.

We may think that the coming of Christ is a completed event and a historical fact of the past, and the anticipation of His coming is only symbolic for us. It is not! Christ always comes to us. He is constantly born spiritually in the heart of every person who believes and expects Him. He comes to us in prayer and the Holy Mysteries, especially in Holy Confession and Communion. Today He comes to be with us and among us.

This year, St. Philip’s Fast and the understanding of the coming of Christ and His presence among us takes on a special meaning and significance for us. In the midst of the relentless COVID-19 pandemic, the suffering of many from this deadly illness, often resulting in the sad and tragic loss of family members and friends, political discord and instability, riots, wars and human rights abuses around the world, we are thirsty for a deep awareness and conviction that Christ the Lord is truly present among us and that His grace is life-giving and necessary.

St. Philip’s Fast recalls for us the Old Testament and the world, which froze in anticipation of the coming of Christ, the Light of the world. We will hear readings from the books of the ancient prophets Nahum, Habakkuk, Daniel, and Isaiah, who prophesied of His coming eight centuries before He was born. They wrote that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, about the escape of the Holy Family to Egypt and the return to Nazareth, about His healing of the sick, about His rejection by the chosen people, about His betrayal and taking thirty silver pieces by one of the apostles, about His crucifixion among robbers, about His side being pierced, about His Resurrection and Ascension to Heaven. Later, the holy evangelists, while writing the Gospels inspired by the Holy Spirit, will include these prophecies to show us that Jesus Christ is the Messiah that everyone expected and that He is truly the Son of God.

The story of salvation does not end with the coming of Christ over 2,000 years ago, but it continues to this very day. We are all awaiting His second coming, which He Himself prophesied, and it will be very different from the first. When Christ comes a second time, everyone will recognize Him. During His first coming, He was not loved but was rejected. When He comes a second time, all the tribes will acknowledge Him as Lord. During His second coming, He will also be accompanied by the angels. During His first coming, He entered the world as a helpless baby in the manger. When He comes a second time, He will come as the King of kings and Lord of lords. That is why the expectation of the coming of Christ is not and cannot be symbolic, but is a completely genuine event – He will come a second time.

During the Christmas fast, let us prepare spiritually for His coming. Create a prayer corner in your home and display an icon of the Nativity of Christ, meditating daily on the mystery of the coming of the Messiah. Let us receive the Mysteries of Holy Confession and Holy Communion during these days, especially if we did not have the opportunity to do so during Great Lent. Let us abstain from meat on Fridays, overeating and excessive use of the Internet. Let us be generous with our time and talents and serve the poor and disadvantaged as much as we can. Let us reconcile with those whom we have offended and those who have offended us. Let us always be aware that Jesus Christ will come a second time as our Lord and Judge, though “of that day and hour no one knows.” (Matt. 24:36).

May you and your family be blessed by Our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, whose joyful Nativity in the manger of Bethlehem we patiently await!

+Borys Gudziak
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
Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma
+Andriy Rabiy (author)
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia
November, 2020

ADULT DISCUSSION DURING The St. Phillip’s Fast.

ADULT DISCUSSION DURING
The St. Phillip’s Fast.

Presented by
The Deacons of the
Detroit Deanery

The deacons in the parishes of the Michigan portion of the St. Nicholas Eparchy, invite to join with them in discussions about topics dealing with Eastern Christian Spiritualty during the 2020  St. Phillips Fast, our preparation for Christmas and Theophany.

These discussions will involve in you reading an “article” prepared by Reverend Canon Priest Wayne Ruchgy and then posted for your reaction. This discussion will be conducted “virtually,”  namely using a host of interactive media.

Deacons involved are:
Zenon Czornij, Immaculate Conception Parish; Hamtramck, Michigan
Len Mier, St Michael the Archangel Parish; Dearborn, Michigan
Jim Frazer,
St Michael Parish; Grand Rapids, Michigan

The topics of these online discussions will be monitored and presented by Reverend Wayne Joseph Ruchgy, STL PhD of St. Michael’s and Holy Ascension Parishes in the Detroit Deanery.

These sessions are meant to stimulate “thinking” and “reflection” on the part of the participants. They are presented in a manner that will hopefully cause people to think about their beliefs.  No assignments other than reading the article before the discussion is required.

Before each scheduled group meeting on ZOOM, an article will be posted and emailed to you for your thoughtful reflection and will contain several “pertinent” questions. The discussion involved, which will be limited to one-hour, will revolve around these questions. Hopefully, you will benefit from these discussions. The matter will engage you in truly theological discussions so that you can spiritually benefit from them.

The meetings will be at 8 PM EST
November 12th
December 3rd, 10th. and 17th 

If you want more information, please sent the following information CONTACT:
Fr Deacon Leonard Mier at stmichaeldearborn@gmail.com

TO SIGN UP CLICK HERE

Memorandum of the bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States of America regarding of the COVID-19 pandemic

Memorandum of the bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States of America regarding of the COVID-19 pandemic

 

“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt. 25, 40)
Dear clergy, religious, and faithful!
Responding to the outbreak of the global pandemic virus COVID-19, which has been spreading with lightning speed across the globe, we, bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States, united in solidarity, wish to address you with assurances of our joint prayers and efforts. Bound together in our care for the spiritual and physical health of our faithful, we would like to inform you about certain norms and practices intended to confirm us in faith and truth, safeguarding all members of our communities, especially the most vulnerable, and preventing the spread of disease.
Keeping in mind the fragility of human life and acknowledging with humility the limits of human reason and resources, we are called to do all that is possible to help the national government, local authorities, and medical personnel to fight the spread of the virus.
Medical workers and scientists are unanimous in warning that this fight will be protracted, one that will require the solidarity of all people across the globe. The speed of transportation and the globalization of today’s world facilitate the spread of the virus. But the quality of our interpersonal relations and our solidarity—and it is Christ who grants these gifts—are able to slow down the contagion that takes more and more lives every day. The experience of the countries that squarely faced the consequences of the virus and acted quickly and decisively shows that it is possible.
“Love your neighbor!” These times call us to faith in God, trust in each other, focused efforts, solidarity and coordinated actions. Love, we know, entails closeness, even intimacy. In today’s circumstances, however, a certain distance may be the proper expression of interpersonal love and civic responsibility. Thus, the Ukrainian Catholic Church supports governmental regulations and public health measures connected with the pandemic. We ask you, our dear faithful, to follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and take care of your personal safety and hygiene as well as of those around you.
Christ is in our midst! Unfortunately, the necessary public health norms on social distancing, including restrictions on public meetings, make it impossible for the Church to carry on our usual rhythms. At the same time, despite the difficult situation, the Church does not stop Her activity and service. We are called to be creative in living our communion. We Christians continue to bear witness to the presence of God in the created world, to His action in the life of all people, to His love for every person. It is the hour to show our love and care for the elderly in our communities, who today are most at risk and for all who experience social isolation.
These times of trial are a unique opportunity to manifest our love for God and neighbor. Today, when we are limited in public liturgical practices, our life in Christ will be measured by the authentic quality of our personal relationship with God and neighbor: in private and family prayer and in works of charity. In the midst of today’s pandemic caring for one’s neighbor calls for clear and immediate expression.
The experience of our underground Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (1945–1989) is a source of inspiration and faith for us. In recent memory having been deprived of all of its church buildings and all other infrastructure, the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine and elsewhere in the communist world was led by God to find creative ways to foster the spiritual life of its members for two generations. Through excruciating suffering and great losses, our Church was forged, cleansed, and prepared for a new life in a new millennium. Now is the time to prayerfully reflect upon this salvation history. The Lord will guide us again in fortitude and flexibility to praise Him and foster communion and solidarity among us.

Public Services

1. All weekday and Sunday services will be celebrated temporarily without the participation of the assembly of the faithful. Our clergy will continue to celebrate and pray for you and with you vicariously. We will celebrate the Divine Liturgies and other services in behalf of and for all of you, especially for the sick and the healthcare providers. We will beseech the Lord for wise and prudent decisions on the part of government and medical authorities. We will pray for the eternal repose of the deceased. We are obligating our priests to be steadfast in prayer for their flock. Be as Moses, who raised his hands in prayer so that whole people of God could prevail over the enemy (cf. Ex 17, 11-12).
2. Our churches will remain open for private prayer at designated times. We ask the pastors to guarantee the safety and frequent disinfection of our churches.
3. We renew and confirm the dispensation from the obligation to participate in Sunday services. At the same time, we ask you to pray as a Domestic Church (as a family or household unit) on Sundays and on Holy Days. We suggest making use of the ZhyveTV and internet resources of your eparchy or parish. Read prayerfully the Holy Scriptures, reflect upon the source and meaning of your life, on God’s love and salvific action on our behalf.
4. We encourage you to make best use of the quarantine time, which coincides with Great Lent, for personal prayer, reading the Word of God, and building a more profound relationship with Our Lord, our neighbors and in our families.
5. We ask that all the Lenten practices — e.g., missions and spiritual exercises — be held with the aid of the internet and other means of social communication.

Sacraments and Sacramentals

1. We kindly ask that you postpone, in consultation with your pastor, the Sacraments of Christian initiation (Baptism and Chrismation) and Matrimony.
2. The faithful can avail themselves of the Sacrament of Repentance (Confession) in church, taking all necessary precautions for social distancing.
3. In cases of grave illness or danger of death, priests are obligated to administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, while assuring safety for all involved.
4. Priests will celebrate funerals with the participation only of the immediate family members of the deсeased, according to local regulations regarding public assemblies.

Practical advice

1. Dear priests, religious, sisters and brothers! If you feel sick, we urge you to stay at home, call your doctor, and obey all medical and civil regulations.
2. We encourage our pastors to maintain personal contact with their faithful, especially with the elderly and sick by phone and via social media. Our priestly ministry continues without ceasing.
3. Confessions are to take place in the open, not in a confessional. Safety of the penitent and priest must be assured.
4. Frequently sanitize with disinfectant whatever people tend to touch in the churches: pews, door handles, etc.
5. During private prayer in church, maintain a safe distance from each other (6 feet or 2 meters).
6. Venerate icons and the Cross by bowing your head and with a sign of the cross or by prostrations. Do not kiss icons or the Cross.
7. Comply with the guidelines and prescriptions of governmental authorities (town, county, state, federal) regarding public gatherings and personal safety.
These norms are effective immediately after being published on Wednesday, March 19, 2020. We carefully follow developments, consult experts and will update our norms and regulations according to new information and circumstances.
God is calling us to a new and deeper spiritual awareness. We encourage you to stay united in the communion of the Holy Spirit! Pray! Stay vigilant! Sing, smile, and laugh! Exercise and read! Pay attention to your health and help people who are under risk in your family as well as in your neighborhood! Communicate and support each other in spirit and deed!

+ 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

March 19, 2020
from Metropolitan Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia, PA

GREAT FAST PASTORAL OF THE UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC HIERARCHY OF THE U.S.A.

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

 

“Open to me the doors of repentance, O Giver of Life. As we worship

in Your temple this morning, teach us how to purify

the temple of our bodies, and in Your compassion,

purify me by the goodness of your mercies.”

Matins, Sunday of Publican and Pharisee

With these words, we are invited to embark on the Lenten pilgrimage. The doors of repentance are opening! The Great Lent is beginning! Every year Great Lent is repeated, and each time it brings us great benefit if we as individuals, our families and church community entrust ourselves to start this journey. It is a preparation for the life to come and, more immediately, a preparation for the Bright Resurrection. Repentance for us as individuals is the conscious transformation of our hearts, our minds, and the very essence of our lives. This is at the heart of the Great Lent.

Through this Lenten pilgrimage, we begin our preparation for the glorious feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord. Daily we acknowledge our need to repent as we recite the Lenten prayer of Saint Ephrem of Syria. “Yes, O Lord and King, let me see my own sins and not judge my brothers and sisters for you are blessed for ever and ever. Amen.” We pray acknowledging that it is only when we enter the “wilderness of the desert of our heart” and focus inward that we take the first step on the road to repentance and the journey to and beyond the empty tomb on the day of Pascha.

During the Lenten days, we are offered the opportunity to seek release from those things we have allowed, often unconsciously, to hold us captive, yet which in and of themselves have no real power over us. Now, during the forty days, we are challenged to do away with our passions, our preoccupations, our pride, our jealousy and anger. Now, we are assured that the doors of repentance are opened to those who knock.

Now, during the Lenten journey our prayer, fasting and almsgiving have the power to transform our lives and the lives of those around us. Repentance, however, must never be regarded as our spiritual activities that prepare us only for the feast of Pascha. Repentance stands at the very heart of our spiritual lives. Repentance is our ongoing, continuing and daily pursuit.

We enter this Lenten journey as individuals, but we are not alone, at the same time we enter this pilgrimage with our families and our church community. Together we stand at the doors of repentance. Together, we knock and implore the Giver of Life to lead us from the desert of our life into the joy of being with God.

On this journey with our eyes opened, and our hearts free to follow Christ, we will be able to see in the new light people around us. We will be able to listen attentively to those in need, those who are less fortunate than us in our community. We will be able to live our Christian vocation to preach the Good News of Christ, to be missionaries and missionary community, a welcoming and hospitable community both for its faithful and for strangers. We can manifest this spirit of service toward those who are closest to us – our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, fellow parishioners, and even to total strangers, whom we meet for the first time. We should remember that in our midst there are many, who have left the Church for a variety of reasons, or they do not attend simply because no one has ever said to them: “Come and see!” (John 1:46).

Great Lent is a perfect time to strive to live for our church community in unity, a community that is resplendent with evangelical joy and godly life. Our spiritual life will be a sign of God’s presence in the world, through our prayer and our service to others, we will proclaim the Good News.  This Lenten journey allows us to touch all aspects of our inner life, our church community and in a broader sense encompasses the fullness of Christian life. Let us be not afraid with joy to enter this Lenten pilgrimage, so on the Great Monday of Holy Week we can with a renewed spirit and sincere heart sing: “I see your bridal chamber completely engulfed with light, O my Savior, and I do not have a wedding garment to enter and enjoy Your brightness, fill the garment of my soul with light, and save me, O Lord, save me.”   Exapostilarion, Matins of Great Monday.

May God bless our Lenten pilgrimage toward the glorious Feast of the Resurrection!

+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 (author)
Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma
+Andriy Rabiy
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

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

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!

We, the faithful experience the life of the Church by means of the unending cycle of the liturgical year. The liturgical year is not simply how we mark the passage of time in the church calendar year. The liturgical year tells the story of God’s life in the world, a story in which we are participants, not just spectators or listeners. It is a re-living of the life of Christ, His Most Holy Mother and the Saints. And liturgy is the means by which we tell, live, and experience the story. Through liturgy it becomes real to us and becomes part of our own lives.

It has been said that liturgy is humanity’s yearning for God, and that grace is God’s yearning for humanity. Liturgically, this story of holy yearning – God’s yearning for us and our yearning for God – begins at the point in the liturgical year that we find ourselves at the present moment: Pylypivka: the 40-day period of waiting and watching for the fulfillment of God’s promises, and the coming together of humanity and divinity in the Christ child, who, with his nativity, will bring new life and new hope into our world and our lives.

Too often we see this time of Pylypivka, through the secular lens of our modern post-Christian society, as the final countdown to Christmas, the time when we get things ready for the holidays. By now the malls and stores have long been decorated for Christmas. Christmas gift lists are growing and the number of shopping days is shrinking. Party menus are being planned. Travel plans are being made. Families are gathering. Expectations and hopes are growing. Christmas trees need decorating and presents need wrapping. The pressure is mounting. There is so much to do and so little time to do it in. We feel stressed and distracted.

This is not the liturgical or spiritual understanding of Pylypivka proposed by the Church. This is not the ideal way of spending this holy time. Pylypivka is not the time when we prepare for Christmas. It is the time in which we are prepared for Christmas. It is the time not so much for action as for reflection, a time not for doing but for being open and receptive. Pylypivka is the time when the Church offers to us an alternative to the secular model of “getting ready for the holidays” and asks us to slow down, be still, and be quiet. We are called to keep awake, to be looking and listening for the God who is coming to us. We are called to prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts. It is a time to watch and reflect on who we are. It is a time to look for Christ in all the unexpected places – in the ordinary events of everyday life, in the poor, the hungry, and the needy. And we wait and watch for the angelic messenger who will tell us of the birth of the Christ child.

Being still and keeping attentive is hard work at any time but especially now, during one of the busiest times of the year, so full of distractions and stress, which makes keeping still and attentive even more necessary for us. The time of Pylypivka reminds us that waiting and watching is holy work. So how do we do this?

The tradition of the Church teaches us that silence is the key. Silence is a way of waiting, a way of watching, and a way of listening to what is going on within and around us. Through stillness and silence, through attentiveness and watchfulness we come to self-knowledge and the true spiritual meaning of the coming of Christ.

Of course, it is unrealistic for us to completely detach ourselves from the world in which we live. Our daily obligations and responsibilities prevent us from doing so.

However, during this time of Pylypivka, we encourage you to take just a few minutes each day to sit in silence and stillness, with perhaps the aid of Holy Scripture or a spiritual book, and meditate on the coming of the Lord in the flesh in the feast of His Nativity. If you do this, be prepared to be surprised at what the Lord might whisper to you in your heart!

May the blessings of the Lord Jesus, whose birth in a cave in Bethlehem we joyfully await, descend upon all of you.

+Borys Gudziak
Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians
Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM (author)
Eparch of Stamford

+Benedict Aleksiychuk
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

2019 Easter Pastoral Letter of His Beatitude Sviatoslav

Most Reverend Archbishops and Bishops,
Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers,
Venerable Brothers and Sisters in Monastic and Religious Life,
Dearly Beloved Laity in Christ of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church

Christ is Risen!

Let us rise at early dawn
And bring to our Master a hymn instead of myrrh,
And we shall see Christ, the Sun of righteousness
Who enlightens the life of all
.
Ode 5, Paschal Canon

Beloved in Christ!

Today heaven and earth, angels and men proclaim to the whole universe the most profound of all truths: Christ is risen! The power of this salutation is felt by all of us, from the youngest to the oldest, as we respond: Truly, really, indeed Christ is risen! In all languages, we solemnly proclaim this truth using the words of the Gospel for Pascha: “and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14). We are all lifted up with unspeakable joy and are given new life through Christ’s Resurrection—for He rises and lives in order that we too might live and rise in Him and with Him.

Let us rise at early dawn and bring to our Master a hymn instead of myrrh…

The radiance of the resurrection of the Sun of righteousness was first seen by the myrrh-bearing women in the darkness of a night filled with disappointment, despair, and fear. With tears in their eyes, they carry myrrh for the deceased, worrying about whether someone will be there to roll aside the great stone at the entrance to the tomb. Each one of us, having experienced the death and funeral of someone close to us, can understand the pain in the hearts of the myrrh-bearing women as they go to bid a final farewell to their Teacher. But lo, they come upon a different, unexpected reality. An angel in a white garment proclaims to them: “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him” (Mk 16:6).

Our Paschal Matins calls on us to “rise up,” that is, to awaken from sleep and be open to the Divine unexpected. To rise up means tо look out for that which is true, genuine, and authentic: look to recognize the Truth, look to not be fooled by that which is false and deceitful; look to encounter the Risen One. His radiance reveals to us the truth about Himself, about that which is worthy of our efforts, labours, and suffering, which is worthy of our action as Church, as a community and as an entire people. The truth that Christ is risen is as real and certain as the fact that the sun will rise and the day will take the place of the night. The Resurrection of Christ as the Sun of righteousness “enlightens life” for us. It shows us not only the true meaning of what the myrrh-bearing women were seeking but also the meaning of every person’s life, suffering, and even death: we are created for resurrection in Christ and our life on earth is an awakening to the expectation of this resurrection. Let the words of the Psalmist be our song in light of the Resurrection: “Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day” (Ps 96:1-2).

And we shall see Christ, the Sun of righteousness…

We live in a cultural world of fakery and untruth, of false commodities and deceptive ideologies. The age of post-truth is upon us. Truth is, it would seem, manufactured according to an individual’s private interests, “on special order,” with no connection to what is actually happening in regards to entire nations, cultures, and individual persons.

For a person today, truth is ceasing to have value. Therefore, all Christians who believe that Christ is truly risen should ask themselves: is truth still important for me? Is it possible that sometimes I neglect the truth because it is more comfortable for me to live without it, to not be bothered by searching for it? Am I able to be truthful with myself about my own life and my shortcomings, or do I attribute them to others and blame others for my own sins?

The environment we live in today, in the midst of “fakery and deceit,” is a veritable night for humanity and, essentially, the death and burial of the human spirit. Without truth, humanity dies like a flower without the sun. The prophet Isaiah cautions against such evil, saying: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” (Is 5:20-21).
To celebrate Pascha, the Resurrection of our Lord, in the midst of such a night is to be a servant of Truth, a torch for the Sun of righteousness—Christ, who enlightens our life. The example of the myrrh-bearing women is a call to us to search for the Risen Saviour. The myrrh which they carry to anoint the body of Jesus, laid in the tomb, is a symbol of our personal duty to search for truth and move toward it, serve it, bear witness to it before the powerful of the world, even at the risk of our own life. Bearing witness to the truth—this is the paschal calling of every Christian.

The Truth has its own power. It overcomes falsehood as triumphantly as Christ conquered death, as light dispels darkness, or the sun drives out the remnants of the night. With the courage to live in truth, we can become witnesses to the power of Christ’s Resurrection. It is a truth that must be shown with our very lives rather than defended merely with words, following the example of the myrrh-bearing women, who persisted in their witness before the Apostles, even when these would not believe.

Who enlightens the life of all.

As a people, we often have experienced the murderous power of falsehood. We have been robbed and are still being robbed of the truth about our past. False ideologies have been forced and are being forced upon us in order to destroy our present. In times of pre-election campaigns, we have been the target of deception and are still being fooled, so as to rob us of our future. The war which our nation is waging is, in reality, nothing less than a war against falsehood, lies, and all that they bring about in the lives of individuals and society, in international relations, and in the very existence of the global community.

This is why the good news of Pascha-day is so important for us: Christ is truly risen! The teaching of our Lord and Saviour is for us a beacon and a signpost. Indeed, the struggle against falsehood begins in the depth of the human heart. The chief Apostle Peter wrote this appeal: “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pt 1:22-23).

Let us, therefore, live in the light of the Risen One, before whom no darkness or falsehood can stand. Let us believe in the truth that is Christ and serve the truth in all spheres of human life—and Ukraine with its people will be invincible. Every initiative built on lies will collapse, as it was with the Communist empire of evil. Let us build our nation on truth and justice, no matter how bitter and difficult that may seem. The Risen Christ has the power to enlighten our life and raise us up to a new future.
Indeed today, in light of the authentic Truth that is Christ we must examine our past and, with trust in the Risen Saviour, we must order our present. Precisely now, by the power of his victory against falsehood, we must build our future—one that is not illusionary, dark, and sorrowful, but brilliant and joyful, in the fullness of life, which we have in the Lord.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ! In this bright, joyful day I wish to greet you all with the Pascha of our Lord. May the light of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, enlighten all of you to responsible service of the truth and grant you courage and perseverance in the face of dark and evil falsehood. To all of you, in Ukraine and throughout the world, I send you my heartfelt greeting together with sincere prayers. To all the soldiers at the front lines and their families, to all refugees and to those who are on the occupied territories, to all captives and prisoners for the sake of their conscience, to the young and old, to those in good and in poor health—I wish all of you the joy of life that is grounded in the truth of God’s infinite love for us. I embrace you with fatherly love and send you my sincere wishes for a blessed Easter feast, a tasty sharing of our traditional blessed egg, and a Paschal joy that is full of light.

The grace of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Christ is risen! – Truly, He is risen!

SVIATOSLAV

Given in Kyiv
at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ,
on the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel,
April 8, 2019 A.D.

PASTORAL LETTER OF HIS BEATITUDE SVIATOSLAV TO YOUTH ON PALM SUNDAY

Beloved in Christ Youth in Ukraine and abroad!

With great joy, as every year, on the occasion of Palm Sunday commemorating Jesus’ triumphal entry in Jerusalem, I wish to address you with this pastoral message. For indeed youth, in the words of Pope Francis, is the divine “now” of our Church and people to whom God wants to reveal His presence, His mercy, and His salvation. As Christ did then, when He entered into His royal city and inaugurated the triumphant coming of His Kingdom in humble service, so also in His eternal “now” through you He wishes to carry His light and His hope into the world. The future depends on your openness to Christ, your sensitivity to the living reality of your Church and people, and your ability to take on responsibility for yourselves and the world.

According to recent sociological surveys, the majority of young Ukrainians see freedom as the most important value in their life. It should be pointed out that this is also the position of a great part of the adult population. For post-Soviet Ukrainian society, such a shifting of values can be seen as a real breakthrough. Indeed, after decades of captivity and bloody communist terror, the freedom-loving spirit of our ancestors has awoken, a spirit which until now no enemy could break or extinguish. This is not surprising, for true freedom gives us the possibility to express our dignity, to fulfil our noble aspirations and goals. It enables us to feel free from all kinds of enslavement so that we might live in truth and create what is beautiful and good. As my predecessor, His Beatitude Lubomyr, aptly stated: “freedom is the possibility to create the good.”

As the year 2013 drew to a close, they sought to deprive us of the possibility to fulfil our national dream—the dream for a free, united, European Ukraine. And it is not by chance that opposing forces chose as their target none other than the youth. Church bells awoke our conscience, and on the Maidan, with great cost, we defended our right to do good in freedom, to live in liberty on our God-given land. Among the heroes of the Heavenly Hundred were our colleagues—students, sportsmen, volunteers, young parents. From the divine eternal “now,” they look down on us today in order to once again by the bells of our conscience awaken us to sensitivity and responsibility. Today our freedom is being preserved before the Russian aggressor by those fighting in the Eastern part of Ukraine at great cost and personal sacrifice. We have no right to stab them in the back.

Beloved in Christ! Freedom is not merely a human value, of which no one has the right to deprive us. True freedom is a gift from God which we received in Jesus Christ. St. Paul reminds us: “for freedom Christ has set us free,” and he immediately cautions us, “stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1). Entering into the capital city of Jerusalem, the Lord brings the good news of salvation, the good news of freedom. This freedom he proposes not as one who enslaves and oppresses. Throughout our national history, especially in the last century, we were visited many times by “liberators” who, hiding behind deceptive slogans about equality and freedom, brought with them terror, destruction, and death. Christ, on the other hand, in humble service by which He gave His life on the cross for our liberation and freedom, becomes the source and foundation of authentic divine freedom, which brings peace, gives hope, calls to growth. “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh…” (Gal 5:13). This call to growth in freedom is at the same time a call to mature responsibility. For today the enemy of our salvation—personal and national—once again seeks to lull our sensitivity. He wants us to see freedom as a right without personal effort, for us to “go with the flow,” while setting aside high aspirations and ideals.

True freedom is not possible without responsibility. Freedom without responsibility, in fact, becomes a blind and destructive force, а recklessness that closes its eyes to that which has been achieved thus far, destroys the present good—personal and common—and places in doubt the personal and national “tomorrow.” During the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, it was the youth that joined the ranks of Christ’s disciples and revealed their openness of heart and responsibility in the face of epochal changes and upheavals.

Dear youth! Today’s Gospel event teaches us to choose with maturity and responsibility—to stand on the side of truth, goodness, and justice, to stand against manipulations, cunning propaganda, and empty promises of an easy and carefree future. The history of salvation shows all of us that the path from slavery to freedom is difficult and long, and it must be travelled from day to day, steadily and patiently. There may be mistakes made on this path, but it would be awful for us to fall into an ill-conceived indifference and thoughtlessness by which we, often even unawares, cross over to the side of our enemy, having freely submitted once again to his tyranny.

Today in Ukraine we are demonstrating our national and Christian maturity through our participation in the elections for President of Ukraine. For some of you, this is, possibly, the first election in your life. This same day may become decisive for the fate of the county for decades, and even for its very existence. Therefore, I call upon you to mature responsibility. Only a mature person is capable of foreseeing the consequences of one’s choices and take personal responsibility for them. Let us not let anyone take Ukraine for a fool, scoff at the blood and suffering of our people, who fight for true freedom at the cost of their own life.

In order for you to be able to better and more conscientiously make a personal decision with responsibility, I would like to recall the criteria which at one time His Beatitude Lubomyr of blessed memory proposed, and according to which, in his opinion, it is imperative to evaluate candidates to positions of authority in government: professionalism, integrity, patriotism. Only one who has all three traits can be worthy of our trust. Today our entire Church calls upon the Holy Spirit to send down His grace on our youth, trusting that its choice, as well as the choice of our entire people, will bring good news to Ukraine and the world, just as the choice of the youth of Jerusalem became a famous part of the Gospel of Christ Himself!

The young faithful of our Church, who reside outside Ukraine and are not participating in the elections today, I wish to also call to responsibility in our communities—ecclesial and social. Take responsibility for the future of the country where you reside, do not be afraid to achieve success and perform service at the highest levels of society and thus to be a source of pride for your native people and your Church. Become active members of your parish and the Ukrainian community. And so will you, as the divine “now” will create a better future for yourselves, your descendants, the Church and all of humanity.

My dear youth! I greet you with this special youth day! Thank you for your active, mature, and responsible Christian life position. Be assured: who follows Christ and their life walks in the ways of God, such a person will always achieve a blessed goal—true freedom and happiness, which do not pass away.

The blessing of the Lord be upon you!

+ SVIATOSLAV

Given in Kyiv

at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ,

on the Day of the Venerable Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, and Deacon Cyril, and others martyred by the persecutor Julian, April 11, 2019 A.D.