September 17th, 2016

In the Beginning…

Happy New Church Year!
September 1st was the first day of the new liturgical year. A pious tradition of the Church holds that Jesus of Nazareth began preaching the good news of His mission on September 1st. When our Lord entered the Synagogue, He was given the book of the Prophet Isaiah to read and He opened it and found the place where it is written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant,
and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”
(Luke 4:18-21).

 

Tradition also holds that it was during the month of September that the Hebrews entered the Promised Land. And, the custom of beginning a new year with autumn was common in Biblical and Mediterranean lands because the summer harvest was completed, the crops were stored, and it was a time when people began preparing for a new agricultural cycle. It was an appropriate time for a new beginning. This is evident in the services for the New Year as the Church beseeches God for fair weather, seasonable rains, and an abundance of the fruits of the earth.

Nativity of the Theotokos
The first great feast of the new liturgical year, September 8th, honored the Mother of God’s birth; the last great feast of the year, August 15th, remembered her falling asleep. Between these two great feasts the Church marks 1o more great feasts as well as Pascha, the Feast of Feasts. Please check the calendar for our parish’s liturgical schedule to make sure you set aside the time to worship God through the coming year.

St. Sophia’s Catechesis Has Begun

Our new catechetical program, offered in English and Ukrainian, will be featured in the New Star eparchial newspaper this month! Be sure to join us at the next one on Sunday October 16.

This month, we were focused on beginnings. We learned how to hold our fingers when praying the Sign of the Cross, how to ask a priest for a blessing, and how to venerate icons. We discussed the first day of creation (Gen 1:1-5). This led to breakout discussions with the catechists on salvation history, the monarchy of the Father, the integration of faith and science, our salvation in Jesus who is the light of the world, our use of candles in prayer, and much more. The St. Faith/Vira class served everyone chocolate and vanilla ice cream to recall God separating the light from the darkness.

Text won’t replace the Christian fraternity and personal interaction that comes from attending class, but we do have an all-ages pamphlet to help reinforce what was learned which you can now download here. The pamphlet includes:

  • This month’s Bible verse and prayers including the new addition of the morning prayers in Ukrainian
  • Instruction on the nature of the Trinity
  • Biography of Andrei Rublev, iconographer of the famous Hospitality of Abraham icon, often called The Trinity
  • Biography of St. Patrick of Ireland who is known for his teaching on the Trinity
  • Lyrics and links to the song God is the Boss, which teaches how to make the Sign of the Cross
  • Coloring page and information on the Feast of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross
  • Information on Evolution v. Creation and Genesis
  • Instruction on pious behavior, covering the internal and external dispositions of physical movements and postures like prostrations
  • Information on asking a priest’s blessing and venerating icons
  • Instructions on praying the Sign of the Cross
  • Information on the filioque

Everyone in the parish is focused on learning the same prayer and the same Bible verse this month. If you haven’t started to integrate the recommended morning prayers, included in the pamphlet, please take 2.5 minutes from the day to start the good habit now.

Homework: Memorize the Bible verse and learn the Sign of the Cross. If you know the Sign of the Cross well in one language, please learn it in a new language and teach others in the languages you already know. (We recommend knowing it in English, Ukrainian, and Greek.) We’ll pray these together at the next catechesis on Oct 16.

February 25th, 2016

Live-streaming Mercy conference

Sr Ann Laszok, OSBM sent the below note. Please take advantage of the opportunity to delve deeper into your faith by attending the Saturday conference which is conveniently streamed online.

Stairs of Mercy Conference IconGlory to Jesus Christ!

Not only will we be Live Streaming our “Climbing the Stairs to Mercy” conference on March 5, 2016 but we will have Bishop Bohdan Danylo present with us on that day. Come and enjoy the speakers as well as Bishop Bohdan.

If you are not able to attend the conference in person because of distance, please note the site that you can log onto your computer at the bottom of the flyer or click on the following:

Live Stream @ https://livestream.com/ECEDlivebroadcast/events/4833496
Or go to www.EasternCatholic.org and click “Livestream” and “Eparchy of St. Josaphat”

Please help us publicize this launching into Live Streaming for all our workshops from now on.

Thanking you in advance for your support.

Gratefully,
Sr Ann

February 14th, 2016

Patriarch Sviatoslav on the Meeting of Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill

Below are excerpts from an interview with Patriarch Sviatoslav on the topic of the Cuban meeting of Pope Francis and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. The full interview can be read in English here and in Ukrainian here. The joint declaration the two issued and on which Patriarch Sviatoslav is commenting can be read here.

Firstly, I would like to say something about the meeting of the Holy Father with Patriarch Kirill, and then I will comment on the text of the declaration.

One notices immediately, especially from their comments after the meeting, that the two sides existed on two completely different planes and were pursuing different goals. His Holiness Pope Francis experienced this encounter primarily as a spiritual event. He opened his remarks by noting that we, Catholics and Orthodox, share one and the same Baptism. In the meeting, he sought out the presence of the Holy Spirit and received His support. He emphasized that the unity of the Churches can be achieved when we travel together on the same path. From the Moscow Patriarch one immediately sensed that this wasn’t about any Spirit, or theology, or actual religious matters. No common prayer, an emphasis on official phrases about “the fate of the world,” and the airport as a neutral, that is, non-ecclesial environment. The impression was that they existed in two parallel worlds. Did these two parallel realities intersect during this meeting? I don’t know, but according to the rules of mathematics, two parallel lines do not intersect.

Speaking of the signed text of the Joint Declaration, in general it is positive. In it are raised questions, which are of concern to both Catholics and Orthodox, and it opens new perspectives for cooperation. I encourage all to look for these positive elements. However, the points which concern Ukraine in general and specifically the UGCC raised more questions than answers.

It was officially reported that this document was the joint effort of Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) from the Orthodox side and Cardinal Koch with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity from the Catholic side. For a document that was intended to be not theological, but essentially socio-political, it is hard to imagine a weaker team than the one that drafted this text. The mentioned Pontifical Council is competent in theological matters in relations with various Christian Churches and communities, but is no expert in matters of international politics, especially in delicate matters such as Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Thus, the intended character of the document was beyond their capabilities. This was exploited by the Department of External Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is, first of all, the instrument of diplomacy and external politics of the Moscow Patriarchate. I would note that, as the Head of our Church, I am an official member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, nominated already by Pope Benedict. However, no one invited me to express my thoughts and so, essentially, as had already happened previously, they spoke about us without us, without giving us a voice.

In general, I would like to say that paragraph 26 of the Declaration is the most controversial. One gets the impression that the Moscow Patriarchate is either stubbornly refusing to admit that it is a party to the conflict, namely, that it openly supports the aggression of Russia against Ukraine, and, by the way, also blesses the military actions of Russia in Syria as a “holy war,” or it is appealing first of all to its own conscience, calling itself to the same prudence, social solidarity, and the active building of peace.

Nonetheless, I encourage our faithful not to dramatize this Declaration and not to exaggerate its importance for Church life. We have experienced more than one such statement, and will survive this one as well. We need to remember that our unity and full communion with the Holy Father, the Successor of the Apostle Peter, is not the result of political agreement or diplomatic compromise, or the clarity of a Joint Declaration text. This unity and communion with the Peter of today is a matter of our faith. It is to him, Pope Francis, and to each of us today, that Christ says in the Gospel of Luke: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

February 11th, 2016

Great Fast Pastoral

2016 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

“Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

Logo for Holy Year of MercyThere is a story of a mother who was pleading with Napoleon Bonaparte for mercy on the life of her son, an army officer, who had been sentenced to death for treason. The emperor called the young officer’s crime an unforgivable betrayal of the nation, which it undoubtedly was, and that justice demanded his life.

“Not justice!” cried the mother, “Give him mercy!”
“He does not deserve mercy”, was Napoleon’s curt retort.
“But”, said the mother, “if he deserved it, it would not be mercy!” This mother’s wise reply immediately softened the heart of Napoleon who spared her son from the sentence of death.

As we know, this year our Lenten journey is taking place during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, inaugurated by His Holiness Pope Francis last December in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

We are called to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful. But before we are able show mercy to anyone else, we are called first to open our own hearts so that we can accept the gift of mercy freely given to us by the Father. This sounds easy enough in theory, but opening our hearts to God is, at times, not as straightforward as we may think. Because in order to accept this gift of mercy, we must first admit to ourselves and to God that we, abject and sinful human creatures, are indeed, in dire need of his mercy. We are called to acquire an attitude of sincere penitence and humility, which is not always easy for us who have grown up on a diet, served up by our modern society, of pride, entitlement, and self-sufficiency.

This is why the Church, in her great wisdom, has given us the great spiritual gift of this holy season of Great Lent. The unique and evocative prayers and services of Great Lent are such that they instill in us, firstly, a recognition of our own faults and failings and secondly, a desire for personal conversion and a return to the loving arms of God the Father and his mercy. And so, over and over again in the divine services we pray: “Lord, have mercy.”

One of the saints of the Byzantine church writes the following: “This expression – Lord, have mercy – is appropriate, since we should not ask for anything except for mercy. As sinners we cannot, nor dare not, say anything to our Loving Master except have mercy.”

Our limited human intellect cannot, of course, even partially grasp the depth and breadth of the mercy of God for us. The word mercy in English is the translation of the Greek word eleos, which has the same root as the old Greek word for olive oil, a substance which was used in the ancient world as a soothing agent for bruises and minor wounds. The oil was poured onto the wound and gently massaged in, thus soothing, comforting and making whole the injured part. This should immediately bring to mind of course, the gospel parable of the Good Samaritan and the traveller who poured olive oil on the wounds of the man lying beaten and left for dead at the side of the road. (Luke 10:29-37)

So when we pray “Lord, have mercy”, we are praying in effect: “Lord, soothe me, comfort me, take away my pain, show me your steadfast love.” This mercy refers to the infinite loving kindness of God, his compassion for us his suffering children, his desire to lift us up from our pain and sorrow and sinfulness. It is in this profound sense that we pray “Lord, have mercy” with such great frequency and fervor throughout the divine services.

If we are called to embrace the mercy of God with open arms and hearts for ourselves, then how much more are we called to share this gift with others and to witness to this gift in the world? Like the traveler in the gospel parable we too are called to be a good Samaritan to those in our lives whom we meet, even accidently, in our daily lives, who have need of the soothing balm of God’s mercy to be rubbed into their wounds of body and soul, whether or not these wounds come from outside themselves or are self-inflicted.

Jesus never compromised on his ideals, but he did beautifully describe and embody God’s unconditional love, mercy and forgiveness for everyone: a beggar with leprosy, a Samaritan woman with five failed marriages, a traitor like Peter, a selfrighteous human rights abuser like Saul of Tarsus, a prodigal son, an adulteress. The Gospel gives eloquent witness to this on many occasions. If Jesus showed a way of keeping the highest standards, while at the same time offering Living Water – love, forgiveness, mercy, to the least deserving of it, can we then, act any differently?

St. Isaac, the Syrian once said, “Never say that God is just. If he were just, you would be in hell. Rely only on his injustice, which is forgiveness, love and mercy”.

Our prayer today is that the Father’s gifts of forgiveness, love and mercy may brighten the path of our Lenten journey upon which we are now embarking and lead us spiritually renewed and refreshed to the Feast of Our Lord’s Resurrection!

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

+Richard Seminack
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM (author)
Eparch of Stamford

+ Bohdan Danylo
Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma

+John Bura
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

Download the pastoral in English and Ukrainian here

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

«Будьте милосердні, як Отець Ваш милосердний!» (Лк. 6, 36)

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