March 13th, 2015

Eparchial Appeal — SHARE 2015

Eparchial Header

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.
Matthew 6:19-21

Glory Be to Jesus Christ!

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The theme of this year’s Eparchial Appeal is taken from the Gospel of Matthew — Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). This passage is from the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus outlines proper ways for our approach to God and our interaction with other people.

I would like to invite you to ponder the message of the author, who tries to direct our attention to the ever-present problem of wealth and possessions, and the anxiety they bring to our life. Jesus wants us to note that our possessions on earth are fleeting and temporary. They can be destroyed by natural processes, lost, or stolen by thieves. He contrasts temporary “treasures on earth” with eternal “treasures in heaven.” Christ points out amassing “treasures in heaven” refers to conducting oneself in expectation of God’s judgment and reward. We are directed to rethink merely earthly ways and see the real benefits of life. These verses are very much in-tune with the evangelist Matthew’s idea of the “fullness of the kingdom of heaven.”

The true value of wealth lies not in its drive to accumulate possessions for power and comfort. Real wealth encourages generosity toward others; and a generous heart with its path directed toward God. Jesus’ mention of “treasure in heaven” unfolds in two ways. First: prudent use of wealth shows where our heart is and demonstrates that we follow Christ. The way we use our money shows our innermost beliefs and concerns. Second: our hearts follow where our treasure lies. As we invest in charitable causes, our heart will care more deeply. This does not mean we have to develop extreme concern for the needy before exercising our charity. Giving toward causes that promote God’s vision of righteousness may help us to experience what God desires for the world He created for us.

I again ask you to open your heart in support of our Eparchial Appeal — SHARE 2015 — and for your prayers for the success of all our ministries! Know that I am ever-grateful for your generous support of this Appeal.

May the Good Lord grant you peace and love in your families, with your friends and in the workplace. You are in my prayers: please keep me in yours. Thank you!

Your Brother in Christ,

Most Reverend Richard S. Seminack

Bishop of Saint Nicholas Eparchy


«Не збирайте собі скарбів на землі,
де міль і хробацтво нівечить, і де підкопують злодії і викрадають.
Збирайте собі скарби на небі, де ні міль,
ані хробацтво не нівечить і де злодії не пробивають стін
і не викрадають. Бо де твій скарб, там буде і твоє серце».
Матея 6:19-21

Слава Ісусу Христу!

Мої Дорогі Брати і Сестри у Христі,

Тема цьогорічного Єпархіального Заклику походить з Євангелія від Матея – Збирайте собі скарби на небі (Матея 6:20). Цей уривок находимо у Нагірній проповіді, де Ісус окреслює правильні шляхи для нашого наближення до Бога і взаємодії з іншими людьми.

Я хотів би запросити вас роздумати над поcланням автора, який намагається привернути нашу увагу до завжидиприсутньої проблеми багатства і майна, і неcпокій, який вони приносять у наше життя. Ісус бажає, щоб ми звернули увагу на той факт, що наше майно на землі є тимчасове і швидкоплинне. Воно може бути знищене в результаті природних процесів, загублене, або викрадене злодіями. Він протиставляє тимчасові «скарби на землі», вічними «скарбам на небі». Христос вказує, що накопичення «скарбів на небі» відноситься до поведінки в очікуванні Божого суду і нагороди. Нас закликають переосмислити лише земні шляхи і побачити реальні плоди життя. Ці рядки гармонізують з ідеєю Євангелиста Матея про «повноту Царства Небесного».

Дійсна міра багатства полягає не в прагненні до накопичення майна для влади і вигоди. Справжнє багатство заохочує щедрість по відношенню до інших, і щедре серце спрямовує свій шлях до Бога. Згадка Ісуса про «скарб на небі» трактується у двох напрямках. По-перше, розсудливе використання багатства показує де наше серце і демонструє, що ми йдемо за Христом. Те, як ми використовуємо наші гроші, відкриває наші найпотаємніші переконання і турботи. По-друге, наші серця прагнуть туди, де знаходиться наш скарб. Щоразу жертвуючи на благодійні справи, наше серце почне глибше перейматися. Це не означає, що ми повинні розвивати крайню стурбованість до нужденних для здійснення благодійної діяльності. Жертвування на цілі які сприяють Божому баченню правди, може допомогти нам пережити те, що Господь бажає для всього світу, який Він створив для нас.

Я знову закликаю вас відкрити своє серце та підтримати наш Єпархіальний Заклик – SHARE 2015, та прошу о ваші молитви за успішність наших служінь! Знайте, що я є завжди вдячний за вашу щедру підтримку цього заклику.

Нехай Добрий Господь дарує вам мир і любов у ваших родинах, з друзями та у праці. Ви є у моїх молитвах: будь ласка, пам’ятайте мене у своїх. Щиро дякую!

Ваш Брат у Христі,

Владика Ришард С. Семенюк

Єпископ Єпархії Святого Миколая

March 13th, 2015

Discern and Honestly Respond to Your Call!

youth runningA loud assortment of children happily chase each other on the playground by the church patio, where I am enjoying beautiful music and delicious Ukrainian food: holubtsi, sauerkraut with kovbasa and Jalapeno varenykys (yes, we do have those in Texas, and I am sure we hold patent rights on the creation!) at our annual Fall Festival. Every November, the North Texas community comes together at St. Sophia parish to celebrate an event where people share and enjoy heart-warming Ukrainian food, live music, good fellowship, and a well-deserved rest.

It is the children of the parish though, who catch my attention as they run past. Their laughter, excitement and joy give evidence to the fun they are having. The cares of the world do not seem to touch their happy faces. They are running free of all the troubles, concerns and worries that most of us as adults burden under on a daily basis.

Looking at this lively and happy group of children, I wonder who will they grow up to be? I am sure in that carefree bunch we have future musicians, drivers, nurses, electricians, teachers, astronauts, doctors, accountants, clergy… So, who will they grow up to be? What will they choose to do in life?

I know that every one of them is given a unique set of skills and talents to make this world better, to make the world a holier place. As a matter of fact, I believe everyone is called to do something special, to change the world for the better, to make a difference. Everyone has a God-given purpose. Everyone has a special and unique mission. Everyone has a vocation…

At the same time, it is our responsibility to discern what our true vocation is and fulfill it to the best of our abilities. Of course, in the process of discernment we will encounter our secularized society trying to pull us one way or another. Our modern culture will try to convince us that our vocation is in reality what it considers to be our vocation, and our success will be measured by what it considers to be success.

Society and culture will try to persuade us that we have to be this or to be that; that we have to behave this way or that way; that we have to live up to their expectations. Unfortunately, at times we might even be tempted to believe it… and act accordingly. Nonetheless, the question is, with all that interference, how much room is left to hear what God really wants us to be? To discern what God really expects us to do? To discern what is our true vocation?

In a beautiful passage, the prophet Jeremiah talks about his vocation and how the Lord called him before he was even born: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” (Jer. 1:5). Similarly, God only desires what is best for us. There is no catch; there is no trick with God. He is not there to cheat us or mislead us. No, He is there to guide us, to lead us, to help us to grow in holiness and become what we were meant to be from the very beginning. Therefore, if we respond to God’s call, if we answer Him truthfully and faithfully, we will be able to find happiness and fulfillment in life. We will discover that we can only be our true selves if we follow our vocation, if we follow the path of who we were meant to be.

In addition, with a multitude of different vocations in life, some of us are called to the priesthood and religious life. I believe that especially in this day and time our church and our eparchy needs young men and women to be honest with their discernment and to seriously respond to that call. In the words of St. John Paul II: “be not afraid” to answer this call – you are gifted by God. Do not worry about things that ‘the world’ will try to convince you of and have you believe. Stay counter-cultural. Pray. Discern. Listen to God’s gentle words. Honestly respond to your call!

May God bless us and help us all in our discernment!

Fr. Pavlo Popov
Director of Vocations
St. Nicholas Eparchy of Chicago

(972) 370-4700
5600 N. Colony Blvd.
The Colony, TX  75056

Fr Pavlo Email Address Image

August 2nd, 2014

Dormition Fast for Peace

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Sophia,

TheotokosAugust 1st was the beginning of the Dormition Fast. Traditionally, this fast, which lasts until the Feast of the Dormition (August 15) is observed as a special time of prayer and fasting for healing.

Within the past months, our world has seen a dramatic increase in violence – violence that especially threatens our Christian brothers and sisters. The Syrian Civil War has been devastating to the Eastern Christian communities there. ISIS militants in Iraq have undertaken the task of eradicating Christians, Shiite Muslims and other religious minorities from areas under their control. Militants in northern Nigeria, known as Boko Haram, have consistently been targeting the Christian populations within their reach. The war against foreign invasion and terrorists in Ukraine has escalated in a very dangerous way (especially after the attack on the Malaysian Airlines flight by the terrorists). The current war between Israel and Hamas has led to unprecedented suffering for the Palestinian people living in Gaza. And finally, in our own State of Texas, we are witnesses to a tragic refugee crisis affecting children from Central America – sent on a perilous journey by desperate relatives to escape the horrific criminal violence that ravages Central America.

In the face of all of this suffering and unrest, we begin the Dormition Fast. In unity with our sister churches all over the world we will dedicate our fasting and prayers to these intentions.

Attached is a prayer book with selections from the “Paraklesis to the Theotokos” – a service traditionally chanted during this fast – combined with special petitions for peace and an end to injustice. There are also daily scripture readings that will aid in our meditations during this fast. The prayers should take no more than 10 minutes a day, but they will serve as a daily reminder to hold our suffering and terrified brothers and sisters in our thoughts and prayers throughout the day.

Let us pray that, through the prayers of the Theotokos, Christ will quickly bring peace and the end of conflict and suffering.

Please feel free to pass this along to anyone you think may be willing to join us in these prayers.

Fr. Pavlo Popov

Click to Download the Dormition Fast for Peace Daily Prayers and Readings

February 22nd, 2014

Popular Roman Catholic Media Attacked Married Clergy

Rob Stothard/Getty Images

Ukraine, you might know, is in the middle of a revolution. The people are protesting the government’s tyranny and corruption. The Ukrainian government is responding by torturing and killing the citizens in a scorched earth policy. Numerous images of fearless priests standing between the government soldiers and the citizens, holding nothing but the cross of Christ as they call for peace, have gone viral. These images capture the manly and fatherly call of the shepherd willing to lay down his life for his flock.

The majority of the Ukrainian Catholic priests are young and married as they come from a life-filled and fruitful church, built on the blood of the martyrs. Ours is a church that has always had both celibate and married men ordained to the priesthood, a tradition whose continuance the UGCC assured when they entered reunion with Rome.

RISU

RISU

Patriarch Sviatoslav, the head of the largest Eastern Catholic Church, gave clear directions to his priests on how they’re to conduct themselves amid this revolution. His Beatitude affirmed their presence on the Maidan and their call for peace, saying, “The calling of each priest, in all frightening circumstances – is not to abandon his flock and to be with them. ‘The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. ‘ (Jn 10:11). Setting aside all fear, a priest is called ‘to be a witness to Christ and His truth.’ ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Mt 24:35).”

In the mean time, Fr. Robert Barron’s popular Roman Catholic catechetical and evangelization ministry Word on Fire published a photo of one of these fearless Ukrainian priests as an accompaniment to the specious argument that a mandatory celibate priesthood is supposedly “non-negotiable” for Catholics.

As a reason given to defend this novel assertion, the blog explained: “To give a dire example, in the case of a catastrophe, I would want my priest to be at the front of the lines leading his flock to shelter. If the priest had a biological family of his own, he would first think of their safety before his flock as the natural instinct would drive his protector reaction towards sheltering his own.” They accompanied this assertion with the image of a Ukrainian priest who is most likely married as their model, on a day when married priests are literally standing between their flocks and death and many faithful lost their lives.

Word On Fire Blog Image

Image from Word on Fire blog

Not only did the blog writer appear not to know that the pictured priest was Eastern and probably married, he taught that the man’s marriage undermines and invalidates his priesthood. An outcry erupted from both East and West which led to the ministry apologizing for the use of that image, but after hundreds of messages, the requests for revision of the text remained unacknowledged and the blog post stood. The silence was interpreted by many to indicate the apparent approval of the ministry’s leader Fr. Barron for this attack on married clergy; an attack so poorly formed that it likewise undermined the sacraments of marriage and ordination, the call of vocation, and manhood, not to mention the obvious attack on the unity of the Church and the Body of Christ. That the Word on Fire ministry has a history of removing the East from it’s catechesis allowed their silence and continued support of the offensive and erroneous assertion done in their name to show how far we still have to go to leave behind the legacy of Roman Catholic Bishop John Ireland.

Fr. Roman Galadza and Family

The witness of the courageous priests in Ukraine, married and celibate, proves the blogger’s notion to be nothing more than a straw man. The Lord calls each man to his vocation–whether celibacy or marriage–and the church calls these men to ministry so transformational that they are given sacramental grace in their ordination to carry it out, as we so boldly witness in the images from the Maidan and in the loving and faithful presence of our own beloved priest and his family.

We stand in solidarity with all the married Catholic clergy and their families here in DFW, in Ukraine, and around the world. We thank the priests’ wives for sharing in their husbands’ ministries. We thank their children for being an image of the Lord’s fruitful love. We pray for the safety of all in Ukraine especially those so nobly working for peace. And we pray for unity here at home and throughout God’s Church, so that we may rejoice together in God’s plan of salvation.

Update:
Our prayer for unity was answered and we have cause for rejoicing. After this commentary was published, the Word on Fire blog post was also removed because of the sustained outcry of the faithful from across the universal church. Word on Fire explained:

Thank you for all of your feedback regarding the ignorance and error in our post titled ‘Why I Don’t Want Priests to Marry’. We regret the content, which contained some theological errors, and we also regret using a photo of a Ukrainian Catholic priest, for obvious reasons.

We’ve removed the post and the photo. The mistake was an oversight and a regrettable lack of attention to detail, and was not meant to insult any priest or any rite, most especially those who are standing in harm’s way to protect their flocks. Our most sincere apologies for any offense this photo caused. We certainly continue to pray for that priest and for all priests.

We thank all who publicly shared their support for our priests and their communities, both married and celibate. Please continue to join us as we pray for our courageous priests and their families who sacrifice their lives day in and day out for our salvation.

Update 2:
Word on Fire blog published a follow-up article about Ukraine: The Icon Corner of the World written by Andrew Summerson, a married seminarian for the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, Ohio. Please express your appreciation to them!

I Corinthians 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

February 19th, 2014

What’s going on in Ukraine?

– AP photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

– AP photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

“I appeal to everyone to immediately stop the bloodshed,” Patriarch Sviatoslav admonished. “I call all the children of the Church to fasting, prayer and solidarity with victims. At this moment, when Ukraine is in danger of fratricide, let all the bells in the UGCC churches ring,” he said.

Specifically he stated,”Each night at 9 p.m. [which is 1 p.m. Central], pray one Our Father and one Hail Mary for the intention for a peaceful and nonviolent resolution to the crisis in Ukraine.”

We especially invite the community to join us at St. Sophia parish in our prayers for peace in the world this Saturday morning from 8 AM – 12 PM in our Morning with Mary.

“With a worried soul,” Pope Francis has “been following what is happening in Kyiv in these days,” Vatican Radio informs. The Holy Father assured the Ukrainian people of his closeness to them, and prayed for the victims of violence, for their families, and for the injured.

Where can you find out more?
Religious Information Service of Ukraine
Information Resource of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church
Ukrainian American Society of Texas
Euromaidan in English page on Facebook
Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine article by Timothy Snyder
Decoding Ukraine article by Anne Applebaum
National Review Online coverage by George Weigel
Bishop BORYS (Gudziak)’s Facebook coverage
Espresso TV Live Streaming Video
BBC News Europe Coverage