Christmas Pastoral of the Ukrainian Catholic Hierarchy of the U.S.A.

To Our Clergy, Hieromonks, and Brothers, Religious Sisters,
Seminarians and Beloved Faithful

“Today Christ is Born of the Virgin in Bethlehem. Today, the eternal One has a beginning, today the Word becomes incarnated. All the heavenly powers rejoice, and all who dwell on earth are happy. The magi offer the gift to the Master, the shepherds proclaim the marvel; and we cry aloud unceasingly: Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace and good will to all.”
STICHERA AT THE PRAISES, MATINS OF THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD.

The liturgical texts of the Nativity of Our Lord often repeat a word “Today” and call everyone to respond to God’s invitation. Emmanuel—God with Us—came to the world over two thousand years ago and was greeted with marvel by shepherds and magi offering him homage and gifts. If we want that joy of Christmas to invade our lives, we must do what the shepherds did so long ago. We must come to our parish churches and bow before the newborn King. Hope is available but only to those who will humble themselves and bow in faith before the Lord Jesus Christ. We often think about Jesus Christ each year in the Christmas season. We are deeply touched by the beauty of the nativity scene, and resolve to know Christ personally, follow Jesus in our daily lives and be with Him. But, then the Christmas season passes and the pressures of a new year lead us away from the manger. There is great danger in coming near to Christ but never making a commitment. Sooner or later, we must make a personal commitment that Jesus Christ will be our Lord and Savior. Every time we put it off, it becomes harder the next time. May God give us, the grace to make room in our hearts for Jesus Christ! The angel said, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior.” “Unto you.” “For you.” He came for us! This is where Christmas becomes intensely personal. It’s not enough to say abstractly that we believe Christ came. Many people say that and are still lost in their search for the living God. It’s not enough to say that Christ came for someone else. We can never be saved until we say, “Christ came for me. He died for me. He rose from the dead for me.” Two thousand years ago God sent a gift wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Jesus is God’s Christmas gift to us. But we will never experience Christmas joy until we personally receive God’s gift—the Lord Jesus Christ. There is left to each of us a choice. What will we do with the Christ-child this Christmas? Will we run to meet him and make him welcome in our hearts? Will we sing with the angels or will we be too busy to go to see the babe in the manger? Will we open our hearts and our homes to Jesus? Today, let us come and welcome Emmanuel—God with Us. Let us with joy welcome Christ among us! The beauty of this personal encounter with the living God will call us to share this “Good News” with others. This is the same message the shepherds received from the angels. If we want to experience the real joy that Jesus wants for us, then we must learn to share! By sharing what God has so generously given to us, we will receive an even greater gift—the gift of joy. This is the true joy. It is found in a Person—in Jesus Christ our Savior. This joy flows out of a relationship with the One who never changes, the One who never lets us down, the one who never leaves us or forsakes us—the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior. On this Christmas day, let us come to our churches and personally encounter this great joy. Let us experience the life-giving Christ. Then, with the deep personal conviction we will be able to share this “Good News” with those whom we encounter in our daily lives, and say to one another “God is among us”!

+PAUL (Chomnycky, OSBM) Eparch of Stamford +

ANDRIY (Rabiy) Apostolic Administrator of the Archeparchy of Philadelphia

+BENEDICT (Aleksiychuk) Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

+ BOHDAN J. (Danylo) Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma

+JOHN (Bura) Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

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!

One day, during the pre-Nativity liturgical service celebrated at the Basilica of St. Sofia-Wisdom of God in Constantinople, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, the Theologian, overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit, exclaimed: “Christ is Born! Go out to meet Him!” This short phrase expresses the innate meaning of the forty days of the Nativity Fast, popularly known as the Philippian Fast. This period isn’t filled with grief, but rather with joy, because Christ is coming to transform the world and grant us salvation not only through His suffering and resurrection, but also through His incarnation.

True God from true God, begotten, not made descends from heaven to us, in order to be with us in our mundane earthy life often filled with difficulties. The Lord comes because He dearly loves us and desires to make the first step toward reconciliation and lift up our human nature broken and damaged by sin. Thus, the Nativity Fast is not a mere expectation or an effort to recall the important historical event of Christ’s birth that occurred more than 2000 years ago, but primarily, it is a time of our soul’s preparation for the encounter with the incarnated Christ. How should we prepare ourselves for this salvific event of Christ’s Nativity?

The secular world proposes its own version of such preparation by using festal illumination of our streets, bright and ornamented windows of our shops and richly decorated evergreen trees. The entertainment industry employs various sales tactics which entice us to make more purchases. While in the whirl of preparatory activities, we might forget to prepare ourselves to meet with the newly born child, who is God eternal. It is important to know that the festive atmosphere would only be filled with adequate internal meaning when we repent and open our hearts in order to make it ready for the Birth of Christ.

Our liturgical texts pertaining to the Nativity Fast period often proclaim: “Bethlehem, Get Ready” or “the Cave of the Nativity Be Ready,” although, in reality, poor Bethlehem and the meager cave is our destitute human existence which is in need of God’s nurturing. The Lord did not enter this world in the royal palace, thus, if we want God to live with us and be born in us, we have to cast aside any kind of pride and luxury of self-indulgence and chose a path of humility and quiet joy from the fact that “God is with us.” Therefore, if we would like to prepare “a modest cave in our soul” for the birth of the child Jesus, then it would be imperative to get rid of the imaginary illusion of our self-worth and gladly accept the modest circumstances of our present lives as given to us by God for our benefit and salvation.

During the Nativity Fast, the Holy Mother Church puts in front of us the images of our forefathers, fathers and prophets, who foretold the coming of the Savior. Although, they were not soothsayers, or using the modern term “futurists,” but having been inspired by the Holy Spirit, they spoke on behalf of God about essential things concerning our present life with God. After all, it is crucial to maintain our relationship with God “here and now” rather than “somewhere and sometime.” Apostles Andrew and Phillip, whom we commemorate during the Nativity Fast, understood this well, since they sought intimacy with Christ and unconditionally followed Him in search of “light that enlightens every person.” Similarly, amid these dark late autumn days we strive for sunshine and warmth that can only be given to us by the “authentic Sun of Truth”- Christ, the Savior. Therefore, the aim of fasting is to strive to be filled and sifted through by the uncreated light of God’s presence in our souls granted to us by the newborn Lord.

God’s Son leaves behind His Heavenly dwelling in order to become one of us. So, what should we leave behind during fasting? Traditionally, the Church calls to refrain temporarily from festive celebrations and some foods, but even more importantly – to abandon pride, laziness and all that alienates us from God, from all that is superfluous in our lives and interferes with the joy of celebrating the incarnation of Christ.

“The Lord is coming,” – exclaim our liturgical chants. He comes again and again to all of us together and to everyone in particular. So, let’s prepare a road for Him to our heart. We will light the lamps of our faith, open the caves of our souls and become prepared for the gift of the new life incarnated wants to grant us.

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM
Eparch of Stamford

+Andriy Rabiy
Apostolic Administrator of the
Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia

+Benedict Aleksiychuk (author)
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

+ Bohdan J. Danylo
Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma

+John Bura
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

Pylypivka 2018

2018 — 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!

David, ancestor of the Lord, danced and made music before the Ark, which was only a symbol.
As God’s holy people let us witness the symbol fulfilled,
And rejoice in spirit, for Christ, being almighty, is risen.

From Ode 4, Paschal Canon

Beloved in Christ!

 Today in all of Ukraine and in our settlements abroad Christians are filled with an inexpressible joy. From the moment we first hear our traditional Easter greeting “Christ is risen!” in each one of us, from the youngest to the oldest, our soul undergoes a profound change. We feel how all life’s problems and challenges disappear, how all cares and sorrows are washed away “as wax melts before the fire.” This joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and a true sign, that the risen Lord is present in our hearts.

David, ancestor of the Lord, danced and made music before the Ark, which was only a symbol.

In the sixth chapter of the second book of Samuel, we read how King David at the beginning of his reign arranged for the transfer of the Ark of the Covenant to his capital, Jerusalem. In this relic were contained the tablets of Divine Law, received by Moses: they were the most precious possession of Israel. The Ark was a guaranty of invincibility for the people of the Old Testament, of strength for the king. For this reason, David greets it with great joy, with dance. This presence of God in the midst of His people and their sense of duty to live according to the Lord’s commandments will later allow the Psalmist to say: “Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to His holy name!” (Ps. 97:11-12).

Our Paschal Matins see in the behavior of the king an image of our paschal joy today. And while the Ark-symbol was lost in the time of the Babylonian onslaught in the VI century B.C., the risen Lord is eternally present in our midst: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). This is no symbol or prediction of some unsure or unreachable future. Christ Himself, who rose from the dead, comes to us, His disciples, as a source of our strength and victory over evil. In the Resurrection, in the news of His victory over death is found the summit of our joy and the fulfillment of all prophecies and human aspirations.

To rejoice in God is to allow the victory of the risen Lord to penetrate my heart, to be fulfilled in my personal life. This is not merely some temporary feeling, but real participation and communion in Christ’s Resurrection. Saint Paul wrote: “For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His” (Rom 6:5). To celebrate Pascha is to rise together with Christ, to triumph in Him and with Him. Thus, our joy in Him and with Him is no passing emotion, but the permanent state of one who lives in the faith of the risen Lord.

As God’s holy people let us witness the symbol fulfilled…

In today’s world people do not know how to rejoice—they find happiness in possessions, but largely cry over that which they would like to have but do not possess. Today there in an entire amusement industry that “sells joy,” suggests that you “buy happiness” in the form of empty and short-term distractions, compulsions, or narcotics, promises quick satisfaction without responsibility, seeks to entice through an escape into virtual realities or the acquisition of temporal riches.

A person seeks happiness but cannot find it in those things. For joy is not possible without God. Happiness without God is an illusion which quickly dissipates. It is a dependency that simultaneously enslaves and saps one of strength.

How often in today’s society we find irresponsible politicians, newfound messiahs, in the role of “purveyors of joy.” With empty slogans they appeal to the lowest of human desires. At the price of the blood and tears of innocent victims, or even entire nations, they promise happiness “for the chosen” who belong to their “world” which they artificially designed, and count on the fact that in the face of their lawlessness, “in all tongues”—here we paraphrase our great Kobzar- Shevchenko, all will be silent. But such joy is built on the sand of idols, falsehood, and violence, and thus, sooner or later, it will collapse under its own weight.

We, on the other hand, are called to build our happiness and our joy as a community of children of God. It isn’t easy to live in the joy of the Lord, especially in today’s circumstances. We often ask ourselves: How can be rejoice today? Why are we suffering? Why is this happening to us? Is there any sense to our struggles, the blood and suffering, the deaths and devastation? Without the mystery of Christ’s Pascha, these questions remain unanswered. For the risen Christ Himself opens up for us the meaning of human suffering—transforming it in our paschal journey into joy in the Lord. St. Maximus the Confessor wrote: “If God suffers in the flesh when He is made man, should we not rejoice when we suffer, for we have God to share our sufferings? This shared suffering confers the kingdom on us. For he spoke truly who said, ‘If we suffer with Him, then we shall also be glorified with Him’ (Rom. 8:17).” The suffering and risen Lord is present in each person who undergoes suffering till the end of the world—in each human hurt, in each spilt tear and drop of blood—and He draws us into His Resurrection, grant us joy therein. The one who suffers in the name of love of God and neighbor, that person knows how to be glad in God, how to rejoice with the authentic and eternal joy of the Risen One.

And rejoice in spirit, for Christ, being almighty, is risen.

Therefore, let us view our personal, family, community, and national sufferings in light of our paschal journey led by the risen Christ, in light of our transformation into joy, our movement towards hope on this lightsome day, made by the Almighty. The Lord’s Pascha opens up for our people the truth that through our struggle we enter into His joy. Our love for the Fatherland, which calls us to self-sacrifice in the name of its freedom and independence is, indeed, a path to Resurrection. Our invincible spirit bears witness before the world that one need not be fearful before deadly falsehood and violence, for “Christ is risen, being almighty!”

Today the Lord Himself gladdens us, changing our sorrow into joy, as it was for the myrrh-bearing women. They went to the Lord’s tomb crying and returned filled with authentic joy in God. They went in the darkness of hopelessness and received the light of the Risen One and proclaimed to the Apostles and the entire world that Christ was truly risen. May we be transformed by this “miracle above all miracles,” and through us—our society and land, wherever we may live.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ! May the victory of Jesus Christ over death and evil dispel our doubts and renew hope and joy in our hearts. To all of you, in Ukraine and throughout the world, I send you my heartfelt greeting together with sincere prayers. To all the soldiers and their families, to all refugees, all who lament on the occupied territories and in the Crimea, all captives and prisoners for the sake of their conscience and love for Ukraine, to all the sick and suffering, to those who labor abroad, I wish all of you divine joy above all! I 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 Fifth Sunday of Lent

March 25, 2018 A.D.

Major Feasts and Fasts 2018

Pascha and the 12 Great Feasts are in bold.
Includes Major Civil Holidays
January 1
Circumcision of Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ
Feast of St. Basil the Great
Sunday Before Theophany
New Year’s Day (Civil)
January 6
Theophany of Our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ
January 7
Sunday After Theophany
January 14 Sunday of Zacchaeus
January 15 Martin Luther King Day (USA)
January 21 Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee
January 28 Sunday of the Prodigal Son
January 30
Synaxis of the Ecumenical Teachers and Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom
February 2 Encounter of Our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ with Simeon and Anna
(Presentation of Our Lord Into the Temple)
February 3 First All-Souls Saturday
February 4 Sunday of the Second Coming of Christ (Meat-Fare)
February 11 Forgiveness Sunday (Cheese-Fare)
February 12 Beginning of the Holy Forty Days Fast
February 18 First Sunday of the Great Fast (Sunday of Orthodoxy)
February 19 Washington’s Birthday (President’s Day) (USA)
February 24 Second All-Souls Saturday
February 25 Second Sunday of the Great Fast (St. Gregory Palamas)
March 3 Third All Souls Saturday
March 4 Third Sunday of the Great Fast (Veneration of the Cross)
March 10 Fourth All-Souls Saturday
March 11 Fourth Sunday of the Great Fast (St. John of the Ladder)
March 14 Canon of St. Andrew of Crete
March 17 Akathistos Saturday
March 18 Fifth Sunday of the Great Fast (St. Mary of Egypt)
March 24-31 Great and Holy Week
March 24 Lazarus Saturday
March 25 Annunciation to the the Mother of God, Palm (Flowery) Sunday – Entrance into Jerusalem
March 26 Great and Holy Monday
March 27 Great and Holy Tuesday
March 28 Great and Holy Wednesday
March 29 Great and Holy Thursday
March 30 Great and Holy Friday
March 31 Great and Holy Saturday
April 1
Pascha – Feast of the Resurrection of Christ (Easter Sunday)
April 1-8 Bright Week
April 8 Second Sunday of Pascha (Apostle Thomas)
April 30 Third Sunday of Pascha (Myrrh-Bearing Women)
April 22 Fourth Sunday of Pascha (Healing of the Paralytic) Feast of Saints Cyril & Methodius
April 25 Mid-Pentecost
April 29 Fifth Sunday of Pascha (Samaritan Women at the Well)
May 6 Sixth Sunday of Pascha (Man Born Blind)
May 10
Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ
May 13 Seventh Sunday of Pascha (Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council)
May 19 Fifth All-Souls Saturday
May 20
Pentecost – Descent of the Holy Spirit
May 21 Feast of the Holy Trinity, Victoria Day (Canada)
May 27 All Saints Sunday
May 28 – June 28 The Apostles’ Fast
May 28 Memorial Day (USA)
June 24 Nativity of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John
June 29 The Holy Glorious and All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter & Paul
July 1 Canada Day (Canada)
July 4 Independence Day (USA)
July 15 Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils
July 20 Holy, Glorious Prophet Elijah
August 1-14
Dormition Fast
August 6 Transfiguration of Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ
August 15 The Dormition of our Most Holy Lady, the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary
August 29 The Beheading of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John
September 1 Liturgical New Year (7526)
September 4 Labor Day (USA), Labour Day (Canada)
September 8 The Nativity of our Most Holy Lady, the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary
September 14 The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross
October 1 The Protection of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary
October 8 Columbus Day (USA), Thanksgiving Day (Canada)
October 15 Sunday of the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council
November 8 Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers
November 11 Veterans’ Day (USA), Remembrance Day (Canada)
November 15 Nativity Fast (Philip’s Fast also known as Advent)
November 21 The Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple
November 22 Thanksgiving Day (USA)
December 6 St Nicholas the Wonderworker and Archbishop of Myra in Lycia
December 9 The Conception of the Most Holy Mother of God by the Righteous Anna
December 17 Second Sunday Before Christmas (Holy Forefathers)
December 23 Sunday Before Christmas (Holy Fathers)
December 24 Christmas Eve
December 25 The Nativity of our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ
December 26
Synaxis of the Most Holy Mother of God
December 27 First-Martyr and Archdeacon Stephen
December 28 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia
December 29 14,000 Infants (the Holy Innocents) Slain by Herod at Bethlehem
December 30 Sunday after Christmas: Commemoration of the Holy Righteous David the King, Joseph the Betrothed, and James the Brother of the Lord

Note: The Byzantine liturgical year starts on September 1 and ends on August 31. The movable feasts are determined by the date of Pascha (the feast of the Resurrection). There are two systems currently in use to calculate Pascha – Gregorian (Western) and Julian (Eastern). Roman Catholics, most Byzantine Catholics in America and some Orthodox (notably those in Finland) follow the Gregorian date. Some Byzantines in America and most Byzantines and Orthodox in Canada and elsewhere follow the Julian date. In the year AD 2018 the Gregorian date is April 1 and the Julian date is April 8..

Christ IS Born! Glorify Him! Nativity 2017

My Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we come together again to celebrate the great feast of our God’s incarnation as a human being, we realize that our faith is unique in the history of humankind. We believe that our God loved His creation so much that He decided that He would make us unto His image and grant us the potential to grow in His likeness. Because we are made in His image, we have free will, we share in His most important powers and we have the ability to cooperate with His Spirit to become the best possible version of ourselves that is possible during this lifetime on earth. Indeed He spared nothing to help us achieve the status as His children. He decided from all eternity that He would be with us, helping us to understand how to live this earthly life so that we might become all that we can possibly be. We actually believe that He came to show us how to live this life so that we might truly benefit from the experiences of life and spiritually grow. He could have created us with many different powers. He decided that we must have free will so that we, like Him, might be able to freely and voluntarily return His love. His intent was not to create robots or slaves, but rather free men and women who could freely choose to return His love. He voluntarily created us as we are so that we might share in His life in an intimate way. He unconditionally loves us and allows us to freely respond to His love. As we celebrate this great feast, we must ask ourselves if we truly are trying to understand this great mystery OR are simply just going through life without a clue about the meaning and purpose of their lives. So today I ask you to pause and ask yourself this serious question: Why would God become a human being? How did this action bring about the completion of His creation? It is truly my hope and prayer that all who celebrate this feast with me might come to know they are loved by God and also by me. Thanks to all who have supported me all these years.

Father Wayne

РІЗДВЯНЕ ПОСЛАННЯ БЛАЖЕННІШОГО СВЯТОСЛАВА

 

Високопреосвященним і Преосвященним Архиєпископам та 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 рождається! Славімо Його!

Дорогі в Христі!

Сьогодні ми знову ділимося невимовною радістю святого Різдва, яка наповнює серце кожного віруючого. Божий Син став одним із нас, взявши собі за матір Діву з Назарета. Син предвічного і всемогутнього Бога, Творця всього видимого і невидимого, народився в бідному вертепі та особисто зазнав всієї людської нужди. Це не тільки історичний факт, подія давно минулих років, а й наша дійсність. У цій події, що сталася у Вифлеємі Юдейському понад дві тисячі років тому, ми пізнаємо безмежну Божу любов до всього роду людського на всі часи: «Бог бо так полюбив світ, що Сина свого Єдинородного дав, щоб кожен, хто вірує в Нього, не загинув, а жив життям вічним» (Ів. 3, 16).

Споглядаючи новонародженого Спасителя в бідному вертепі, у яслах на сіні, ми відчуваємо, наскільки Божа мудрість перевершує мудрість людську. У світлі різдвяної зорі сила, слава і багатство, що походять від людини, виглядають порожніми, минущими та малозначущими. Христос, Син Божий, задля нас став убогим і немічним, відмовився від небесної слави, щоб народитися як останній серед людей – нужденним, що немає де голови приклонити, як співає наша колядка: «…не в царськім палаті, а поміж бидляти…» Він задля нас «стає бідним, бувши багатим, щоб ми Його вбожеством розбагатіли» (пор. 2 Кор. 8, 9). Приймаючи людську нужду і неміч на себе, Син Божий підносить убогу людину до Господньої величі. Примітно, що саме вбогі пастушки в околицях Вифлеєма стали першими адресатами цієї спасенної благовісті, яку і нам сьогодні сповіщає ангел Господній: «”І ось вам знак: Ви знайдете дитя сповите, що лежатиме в яслах”. І вмить пристала до ангела велика сила небесного війська, що хвалила Бога й промовляла: “Слава на висотах Богу й на землі мир людям його вподобання”» (Лк. 2, 12-13). У Різдві немов відбувається обмін дарами: Бог сходить із неба на землю, щоб людина вийшла на небо; Син Божий стає вбогим, щоб збагатити людину.

Коли нині живемо у світі, де жадоба матеріального збагачення нерідко переростає, за словами Святішого Отця Франциска, у «нове ідолопоклонство грошам», а в «економіці проявляється великий брак уваги до людини, що зводить людську істоту лише до однієї з її потреб – споживання» (Радість Євангелія, 55), ангел Різдва скеровує своє послання саме до вбогих і закликає їх, а заразом і нас прославити Бога, в якому вміщене справжнє і вічне багатство людини. Будучи з’єднаними з Христом, «в якому сховані усі скарби мудрості і знання» (Кол. 2, 3), християни постають перед світом «як бідні, які багатьох збагачують; як ті, що нічого не мають, а все посідають!» (пор. 2 Кор. 6, 10). І ось у Різдві те багатство – життя з Богом і в Бозі – приходить до нас і стає джерелом нашої радості і надії, якими ми обдаровуємо одне одного.

Попри злидні і випробування сьогодення, маємо визнати, що насправді існують різні види бідності – духовна, культурна, освітня, цивілізаційна і аж тоді – матеріальна. Убозтво сучасного світу частіше має не матеріальний, а духовний характер. Нинішні «скоробагатьки» в Україні переважно є бідніші – і духовно, і культурно – за жебраків. І ця духовна убогість, тобто віддаленість сильних цього світу від Бога, нерідко спричиняє соціальну несправедливість, згубне використання влади, корупцію та зловживання ресурсами, даними для загального блага.

У такій ситуації не достатньо, щоб багачі призначили частину крихт зі свого стола як певну допомогу убогим. Потрібна переміна людського серця, яке допустило б до себе Боже світло і Божу благодать. Бо хто вважає себе рятівником бідних, а не несе Бога ‑ той пропонує порожні ідеології, які лише використовують злидні людини з політичною метою і, насправді, не здатні їх усунути. За таких обставин бідні ставатимуть ще біднішими, а багаті далі наживатимуться. Лише той, хто стане багатим Богом, зможе преобразити власне життя та сприяти побудові справедливого суспільства, у центрі якого стоятиме людина, а не прибуток; загальне добро, а не егоїстичні інтереси окремих груп чи кланів.

У Різдві Христос нас усіх робить багатими, насичує і підносить з усіх видів бідності, бо Він народжується у Вифлеємі для того, щоб кожну людину зробити своїм братом чи своєю сестрою – дитиною Божою, учасником вічних Божих благ. Ось чому Різдво – свято загальнолюдської солідарності, коли особа не багата, позбавлена «золота-дарів» цього світу, збагачує багатьох своїх ближніх «ціннішим даром» – «вірою серця і щирою любов’ю», як про це співаємо в наших колядках.

Дорогі в Христі! Щоб гідно святкувати Різдво, ділімося з убогими –  всякого виду бідності –  тим багатством, яке ми, віруючі люди, посідаємо, насамперед духовними дарами, а відтак і матеріальними благами. Нехай прадідівська коляда, яка вітає Царя в бідному вертепі, буде для нас Божим заповітом наближатися до вбогих і збагачувати їх скарбами нашої святої віри. Похиляймося над Христом, присутнім у наших нужденних братах і сестрах, даючи їм відчути близькість Бога, який огортає кожного своїм безмежним милосердям і своєю безумовною любов’ю. Завітаймо з колядою до наших воїнів у місцях їхнього перебування – чи то в домівках, до яких вони повернулися після виконали святого обов’язку захисту Батьківщини, чи у військових частинах, чи на фронті. Навідаймося до постраждалих від бойових дій, приймімо до свого серця біль убогого та потребуючого – так ми приймемо Христа із Пресвятою родиною, збагатимо наш дім, родину та суспільство невичерпними Божими скарбами, «яких ані міль не точить, ані злодії не викрадають» (Мт. 6, 19-20). До цього кличе нас свята Церква, коли співає: «Приготуймося нині духом і поспішімось зустрінути чистими очима і добрими ділами Того, хто своїм чудесним народженням схотів прийти до своїх. Він народжується у Вифлеємі, щоб нас, позбавлених райського життя, зі свого милосердя, знову до нього ввести» (Стихира з Вечірні Неділі перед Різдвом).

Дорогі браття і сестри, зі щирого серця бажаю кожному з вас, від наймолодшого до найстаршого, від найбагатшого на Божі дари до найбіднішого, в Україні і на поселеннях, справжньої радості дітей Божих, смачної куті, веселих свят Різдва Христового та щасливого, мирного і благословенного нового року!

Христос рождається! Славімо Його!

† СВЯТОСЛАВ

Дано в Києві,
при Патріаршому соборі Воскресіння Христового,
в день Святих преподобномученика Стефана Нового та мученика Іринарха,
11 грудня 2017 року Божого

CHRISTMAS 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!

Today once again we share the unspeakable joy of the Holy Nativity, which fills the heart of each believer. The Son of God became one of us, having taken as His mother a Virgin from Nazareth. The Son of the Pre-eternal and Almighty God, the Creator of all that is visible and invisible, was born in a poor stable cave and personally experienced all human misery. This is not merely some historical event from long ago, this is our reality as well. In this event that took place in Bethlehem more than two thousand years ago we recognize God’s infinite love for the human race, for all time: “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

Gazing upon the newborn Saviour, lying in a simple stable cave, on hay in a manger, we sense how Divine wisdom exceeds human wisdom. In the light of the Christmas star, human power, glory, and wealth seem empty, fleeting, and insignificant. Christ, the Son of God, became poor and helpless for us. He abandoned heavenly glory in order to be born among humans—deprived, having no place to lay His head, as we sing in our traditional carol: “not in a royal palace, but among cattle….” For us He becomes poor, having been rich, so that we might become rich in his poverty (see 2 Cor 8:9). Taking human misery and frailty upon Himself, the Son of God raises us poor humans to our Lord’s grandeur. Indeed, the poor shepherds of the Bethlehem and its surroundings are the first to receive this good news of salvation, proclaimed to us today by the Angel of the Lord: “’And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!’” (Lk 2:12-14). Christmas, it would seem, brings about an exchange of gifts: God descends from heaven to earth, so that mankind might ascend into heaven; the Son of God becomes poor, so that we might all be enriched.

Today we live in a world where, in the words of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, the pursuit of material enrichment frequently grows into a “new idolatry of money,” and “the economy lays bare… a lack of real concern for human beings; man being reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption” (Evangelii gaudium, 55). And yet, the angel of the Nativity directs his message to the poor and calls upon them, and us as well, to praise God, in Whom we find hidden the true and eternal wealth of humankind. In being united with Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3). Christians appear before the world “as poor, yet making many rich, as having nothing, yet possessing everything” (2 Cor 6:10)! And thus, in the Nativity, this wealth—a life with God and in God—comes to us and becomes a source of our joy and hope, which we exchange with one another..

In the midst of the misery and challenges of the present day, we should recognize that there are many forms of poverty—spiritual, cultural, educational, civilizational, and only then—material. The poverty of the present world is frequently not material, but spiritual. Thus, in a certain sense, today’s “new rich” in Ukraine may, in fact, be spiritually and culturally poorer than beggars. On the other hand, this spiritual poverty, that is, this distance of the powerful of this world from God, frequently creates social injustice, disastrous abuse of authority, corruption and misuse of resources, given for the common good.

In this situation it is not enough for the rich to share a portion of the crumbs from their table as a form of help for the poor. What is needed is a change of the human heart, an opening which will allow Divine light and grace to enter. For the one who claims to be a saviour of the poor, but does not have God in his or her heart—such a person carries empty ideologies which only exploit human suffering for political gain, but in reality, are unable to end it. In such circumstances the poor become poorer while the rich continue to prosper. Only those who have become rich in God can transform their own lives and contribute to the creation of a just society, having the human being at its centre rather than profit, the common good rather than egotistical interests of particular groups or clans.

In His Nativity Christ makes us all rich, fills us and raises us out of all forms of poverty, for Christ is born in Bethlehem in order to make every person His brother, His sister—a child of God and sharer of eternal divine blessings. That is why Christmas is the feast of solidarity for all humankind, even for those who cannot bear the gifts of gold of this world, for it enriches all with “a gift more precious than myrrh: the faith of the heart and sincere love,” as we sing in our Ukrainian carol.

Beloved in Christ! In order that we may worthily celebrate Christmas, with those who suffer from all forms of poverty let us share of the riches that are ours—our spiritual gifts above all, and then material gifts. May our ancient carol-koliada, which greets the king in a poor stable cave, be a Divine covenant for us, to approach the poor and share with them the riches of our holy faith. Let us lean down before Christ, present in our impoverished brothers and sisters, allowing them to experience the closeness of God, Who embraces all with His endless mercy and unconditional love. Let us greet with carols our soldiers, wherever they may be—in their homes, having fulfilled their sacred duty to defend their country, in their military units, at the front. Let us visit those who were wounded in battle, let us receive into our hearts the pain of the poor and the needy, for in doing so we will receive Christ with the Most Holy Family, enriching our own homes, our families, and the society we live in with endless divine treasures, “where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Mt 6:20). This is what the Holy Church encourages us to do in singing: “Let us meet Him with pure hearts and with good works. Let us prepare ourselves now through the Holy Spirit to greet Him who is coming to His own people as He himself had willed. He is being born in Bethlehem, so that through His compassion He might bring back all of those who were exiled from life in Paradise” (Sunday before the Nativity, Stikhera from Vespers).

Dear Brothers and Sisters, with a sincere heart I wish each of you, from the youngest to the oldest, from the richest in Divine gifts to the poorest, in Ukraine and abroad—the true joy of children of God, a tasty kutia, a Christmas full of cheer, 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 Venerable Martyr Stephen the Younger and the Holy Martyr Irenarchus,
the 11th of December (28th of November) in the 2017th Year of our Lord

 


 

CHRISTMAS PASTORAL MESSAGE OF THE UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC HIERARCHY OF THE U.S.A.

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

CHRIST IS BORN!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christ is Born!

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

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM
Eparch of Stamford

+Benedict Aleksiychuk (author)
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

+ Bohdan J. Danylo
Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma

+John Bura
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

+Andriy Rabiy
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

Twenty-Eighth Week After Pentecost

Twenty-Eighth Week After Pentecost

Monday 12/11/2017

2 Timothy 2:20-26

Luke 19:37-44

Tuesday

2 Timothy 3:16-4:4

Luke 19:45-48

Wednesday

2 Timothy 4:9-22

Luke 20:1-8

Thursday

Titus 1:5-2:1

Luke 20:9-18

Friday

Titus 1:15-2:10

Luke 20:19-26

Saturday

Ephesians 1:16-23

Luke 12:32-40

Twenty-Eighth Sunday After Pentecost 


Second Sunday before Christmas: Sunday of the Holy Forefathers of Christ

 

Matins:

Luke 24:36-53 (Matins Gospel 6)

Liturgy:

Colossians 3:4-11

Luke 14:16-24

SCHEDULE FOR WINTER FEAST DAYS

SCHEDULE FOR FEAST DAYS

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Sunday, December 24th
Christmas Eve Liturgies
Holy Ascension’s Liturgy – 5 PM
St. Michael’s Liturgy – 10 PM

Monday, December 25th
Christmas Day Liturgy
St. Michael’s Liturgy – 10 AM

Tuesday, December 26th
Synaxis of Mary
St. Michael’s Liturgy – 8 AM

Wednesday, December 27th
Protomartyr Stephen
St. Michael’s – 8 AM

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30th
Holy Ascension Divine Liturgy @ 5:30 PM

Sunday, December 31st
St. Michael’s Divine Liturgy @ 10 AM

Monday, January 1st
St. Michael’s Divine Liturgy @ 10 AM
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