Bishop Richard Stephen of the St. Nicholas Eparchy      Patriarch Sviatoslav of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church      Bishop Kevin Vann of the Fort Worth Diocese      Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Dallas Diocese      Benedict XVI, Pope of Rome
February 1st, 2018

Bishops call Christian families to morning and evening prayer

PASTORAL OF THE UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC HIERARCHY OF THE U.S.A. “CALL TO PRAYER IN OUR FAMILIES”
To Our Clergy, Hieromonks and Brothers, Religious Sisters, Seminarians and Beloved Faithful

ПАСТИРСЬКЕ ПОСЛАННЯ ЄРАРХІВ УКРАЇНСЬКОЇ КАТОЛИЦЬКОЇ ЦЕРКВИ В СПОЛУЧЕНИХ ШТАТАХ АМЕРИКИ НА  ЗАКЛИК ДО МОЛИТВИ У ВАШИХ РОДИНАХ
Всечеснішому Духовенству, Преподобному Монашеству, Семінаристам, Нашим Дорогим Вірним

The Lord, who loves every human being in the world, gifted each one of us with a unique and unrepeatable life. When we contemplate our life, then we see how much effort we expend in order to feel happy.  In this materialistic world, each one of us associates his/her happiness with one thing or another.  All of us achieve something, however nothing satisfies us, and again, we apply immense effort to obtain and achieve the next perception of “happiness”.
Господь, який любить кожну людину у світі, подарував кожному унікальне і неповторне життя. Коли ми споглянемо на своє життя, то бачимо, як багато прикладаємо зусиль, щоб почуватись щасливими. Кожен з нас пов’язує своє щастя з тим, чи іншим у цьому матеріальному світі. Усі ми щось здобуваємо, однак ніщо не задовольняє нас, і ми знову прикладаємо неймовірних зусиль щоби здобути, і осягнути чергове відчуття “щастя”.

This is the way the rest of our entire life could pass us by.  The problem is that we identify ourselves with our body and aspire to attain happiness on the physical level.  However, the human being is comprised not only of a body, because there is also a soul. That is why, Saint Augustine, reflecting on this understanding of our nature, says: “My heart is restless until it finds its rest in the Lord”. Our dwelling with the Lord, our prayer, fills us with the understanding as to how and what we should do, what to avoid, and how to build relationships with people. In this manner, we begin to be ever more aware of what God really wants of us in this case or in a different situation. The quality of our prayer may be seen from the way we are afterwards. Our prayer puts an imprint on our entire life!
У такий спосіб може пройти ціле наше життя. Проблема у тому, що ми ідентифікуємо себе зі своїм тілом і бажаємо осягнути щастя на тілесному рівні. Однак людина складається не тільки з одного тіла, бо ще є душа. Святий Августин віддзеркалює таке розуміння нашої природи: “Моє серце не зазнає спокою, аж поки не спочине в Господі”. Наше перебування з Господом, наша молитва сповнює нас розумінням того, що і як ми маємо робити, чого уникати, та як будувати стосунки з іншими людьми. У такий спосіб починаємо все більше усвідомлювати, що дійсно від нас Бог хоче в тій чи іншій ситуації. Якість нашої молитви можна побачити з того, які ми є після неї. Наша молитва кладе відбиток на все наше життя!

We can frequently think that conversation with God, which is prayer, is a useless waste of time. The reason might also be that we ourselves do not completely understand how important it is for us to abide with our Creator. We are materialistic because we live in this materialistic world. Throughout life, we devote much time to everyday matters or concerns, although we see how little time we spend in prayer. Very often, owing to a lack of prayer, we stumble upon a mistaken conviction and make the incorrect choice. We can be certain that the root of all our negative conditions, problems, and crisis is the same ― neglect of prayer.  From personal experience, each one of us knows that, when we are “watchful” about prayer, then everything else also goes well, in harmony and uniformity with God.
Ми часто можемо думати, що спілкування з Богом, тобто молитва, є марною тратою часу. Причиною цього може бути те, що до кінця самі не розуміємо на скільки для нас важливо перебувати зі своїм Творцем. Ми є матеріалістичні, бо живемо у цьому матеріалістичному світі. У своєму житті ми присвячуємо багато часу буденним речам чи справам, однак бачимо, як мало часу проводимо у молитві. Дуже часто, з огляду на брак молитви, ми потрапляємо у помилкове переконання і робимо неправильний вибір. Можемо бути певні, що корінь усіх наших негативних станів, проблем, та криз є спільний — занедбання молитви. Кожен з нас добре знає з власного досвіду, що коли “пильнує” молитву, то тоді все інше йде також добре, у Божій гармонії та порядку.

Exactly for this reason we call upon all Christian families to nurture shared morning and evening prayer in the family circle. Especially we encourage you to gather together and pray as a family in your homes at 9:00 o’clock in the evening (regardless of time zones). We should pray, each one for their needs: for the family as well as the parish, for the eparchy and the entire Church, for peace in Ukraine and USA, for vocations and other intentions. Therefore, let us begin this year with prayer together, with reflection on God’s Word, in selfless service to one another and with trust in God!
Саме тому, ми закликаємо усі наші християнські родини плекати спільну ранішню і вечірню молитву в родинному колі. Особливо заохочуємо Вас збиратись родиною на спільну молитву у своїх домівках о 9 годині вечора (незалежно від часового поясу). Молитись маємо, кожен за свої потреби: за родину та парафію, єпархію та цілу нашу Церкву, за мир в Україні і США, за покликання, та інші намірення. Тому разом розпочинаймо цей рік у молитві, у розважанні над Словом Божим, у жертовному служінні один одному та у довір’ї до Бога!

As a basis for our prayer we can use the Introductory Prayers starting with “Heavenly King”, through the “Our Father” and adding the “Hail Mary”.
Як основну молитву можемо вживати “Початок звичайний”, від “Царю Небесний”, до “Отче Наш”, додаючи “Богородице Діво”.

We also encourage our pastors to facilitate weekly or periodic prayer meetings with the faithful.  It can be an opportunity to share experiences about prayer and to grow in our faith.  The Catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church can serve as an excellent source for learning and reflection on our faith.  Excerpts read during the prayer meetings and before or after our worship gatherings may facilitate greater insight into the power of faith in our daily life.
Ми також закликаємо наших парохів щотижня або періодично організовувати молитовні зустрічі з вірними.  Це може стати нагодою ділитися досвідом про молитву і зростання у вірі. Катехизм   нашої Української Католицької Церкви може служити чудовим джерелом навчання і роздумування над нашою вірою.  Читання уривків підчас молитовних зустрічей, перед ними чи після, може  послужити глибшому проникненню в силу віри в нашому щоденному житті.

Your hierarchy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church join in solidarity with you with our fervent and steadfast prayers offered for all.  Let us gather in our families at home, and in our parish and eparchial families for shared prayer.  We love you and we pray for you.
Наші Єрархи Української Католицької Церкви приєднуються до вас у своїх щирих постійних молитвах за вас.  Збираймося нашими сім’ями вдома, в наших парафіяльних та єпархіяльних родинах для спільної молитви.  Ми любимо вас і ми молимося за вас.

+Stefan Soroka
Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians
Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States
+Високопреосвященний Стефан Сорока
Митрополит Української Католицької Церкви у США
Архиєпископ Філадельфіийський для Укpаіїнців

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM
Eparch of Stamford
+Преосвященний Павло Хомницький, ЧСВВ
Єпископ Стемфордської єпархії

+Benedict Aleksiychuk  (author)
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago
+Преосвященний Венедикт Алексійчук  (автор)
Єпископ Чіказької єпархії святого Миколaя

+ Bohdan J. Danylo
Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma
+Преосвященний Богдан Данило
Єпископ Пармської єпархії святого Йосафата

+John Bura
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia
+Преосвященний Іван Бура
Єпископ-Помічник Філадельфійський

+Andriy Rabiy
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia
+Преосвященний Андрій Рабій
Єпископ-Помічник Філадельфійський

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)

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

December 21st, 2013

2013 Christmas Epistle of His Beatitude Sviatoslav

This is an unofficial translation by Royal Doors and is presented until such is promulgated.
To the Son, eternally and immaculately born of the Father,
Who—in the fullness  of time—was born bodily, without seed, from a Virgin,
Let us cry out to Christ-God: Holy are You, O Lord,
Who fortified our strength!
(Canon of the Nativity).

Christ is born!

Icon of the NativityAt the voice of the angel, calling to the shepherds in the dark of night, let us now hasten to the poor stable in Bethlehem. Here we see in the Blessed Virgin Mary’s arms the Son of God, who came into our world as a man. Together with them, let us rejoice and marvel; let us sing and contemplate the living and true God, who—born in a human body—gives Himself into human hands as a small, gentle and defenceless child.

Our Saviour’s Nativity reveals the depths of Divine life as well as the truth about man. He—who today appears in human flesh—existed before the creation of the world, for—as God before all ages—He is eternally and immaculately born of the Father as a son! This is the ineffable and incomprehensible mystery of Jesus Christ’s divine sonship which today is revealed and preached to all mankind. This feast makes the divine sonship accessible for all through the proclamation that God the Father loves us as his sons and daughters. In His new-born Son, we experience today our nearness to God. We experience the same warm, powerful, real and life-giving intimacy which is the Father’s intimate affection for His first-born.

Gazing into the faces of the Divine Child and His Mother Mary, let us grasp the truth the Nativity teaches us about our humanity and of His humanity, which is a sign of God’s presence: “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12). This child—the God of Israel, Who—in the fullness  of time—was born bodily from a Virgin without seed. He bestows upon Joseph the Betrothed, the wonderful role of guardian. At the Nativity of Christ, we receive the Eternal God in our own form. For people rightly desire to be cared for and here in Bethlehem, God himself—as a child—is the one caring for the human family!

Humaneness—as a sense of and respect for the sanctity of human life—is a moving and saving path along which—on this mysterious night—the Son of God, the Son of Mary, comes to our homes, to our families, to our nation. And this divine-humanity—the God-Manhood of Incarnate Son of God—gives us a Christmas path to follow in order to love God and neighbour. By celebrating Christmas with travellers and the homeless, or in solidarity with those who are despised and whose dignity is denied, we, Christians, as true guardians and evangelists of God’s presence among us, make our world, our society more humane and dignified for man himself.

The birth of the Son of God, the Eternal Word of the Father, reveals along with the greatness and glory of our God, the Creator and Saviour, the greatness and glory of man as the crown of all creation. In His Incarnation, God reveals the special dignity of man, because He is incarnated in it—that is to say, in his own image. St. Irenaeus of Lyon says: “When the Word was made flesh… He Himself became what His image was… making man like the invisible Father through the visible Word” (Adv. Haer., 5, 16, 2).

Glorifying the dignity of the human person, Christ’s Church today sings out: “Let us cry out to Christ-God: Holy are You, O Lord, Who fortified our strength!” Just as the coming to earth of the Son of God through the Incarnation became the centre of world history, similarly the dignity of the human person is the foundation for a true and indeed humane society. The Church teaches that social institutions and their leaders must respect each human person and their prime duty is to promote the holistic growth of each person. The person can never be a means for the realization of economic, social or political agendas imposed by secular authorities. Rather governments must be vigilant when placing restrictions on freedoms or burdens on a person’s private life to never harm human dignity (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, § 131-133).

There is no future for a society in which man is demeaned. The dignity of the human person is the source for just laws and equitable social order. For in the human person the temporal and eternal, the divine and human, are united. Humanity is the door to eternity opened on Christmas Day by the Son of God’s humanity. So celebrating the Nativity means to keep open the doors of our hearts to human dignity, especially of the weak and defenceless, as was the Divine Child Himself in the arms of the Virgin Mary.

Today once again Ukrainian society is striving to build its future on the foundation of the Christian faith. The new-born Saviour is the fulfilment of the hopes of all mankind for the coming of God’s kingdom—a kingdom of justice, peace and goodness. The birth of the eternal King of Peace was announced by the angel, when he said to the shepherds: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will come to all people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour” (Lk 2:10-11). This historic moment is important to us, for the word of the Evangelist proclaims that Christ Himself is the source of our joy and the end of our fears! In the Nativity of Christ, may our anxiety be transformed into hope, may confusion and uncertainty be directed along the path that leads to the place of our Lord’s birth. On this Christmas Day, when, according to the apostle Paul, the power of God was made manifest in human weakness (cf. II Cor. 12:9), our sense of powerlessness is turned into a realization of our self-worth. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, this realization of our self-worth becomes a force that will enable us to build a society worthy of man. That is why today we glorify the power of the divine-humanity, singing: “Holy are You, O Lord, Who fortified our strength!”

Patriarch Sviatoslav of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic ChurchDearly beloved in Christ! On this joyous feast day of Christ’s Nativity, I wish all of you my sincerest greetings. I wish for you goodness and peace, harmony and health. I desire to knock on the door of every Ukrainian family! With the sound of ancient carols, I wish to cheer every Ukrainian heart! Announcing the great joy of our Saviour’s birth, I want to gather around Bethlehem’s stable all of our church—both in Ukraine and abroad— into one community of God!

Today let us feel like one Christian family in which our Saviour is born. Along the path of humanity and Christian solidarity, we can touch all who defend their own dignity, the dignity of their family and their nation! Let us share our Christmas joy with those who are far from home, in hospital beds or prison bunks. Together, guided by the light of the star, let us make ​​haste towards our neighbours in order to see in the flesh—the Invisible One; in His poverty—the Source of all goodness; in His weakness—the Almighty, as the new-born Christ-God in the embrace of the Theotokos.

Christ is born!

Let us glorify Him!

 † SVIATOSLAV
Given in Kyiv,
at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ,
19 December 2013,
on the feast day of St. Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra, the Wonderworker

September 22nd, 2013

St. Sophia Day

We had another fabulous celebration of our parish’s patronal feast day thanks to the generosity of the Lemley family!

There was great food, jet skis, tubing, shoreline exploration, swimming, more great food, live music, and a piñata to name but a few bits of the fun.

Thanks to all who came out to celebrate St. Sophia and her three martyr daughters. Our patrons have faithfully prayed for us and provided a witness to devotion to Christ we strive to emulate. We look forward to celebrating their feast again next year!

The Church celebrates and rejoices
In the feast of the three daughters: Faith, Hope, and Love
And their Mother, Sophia, so named for her Wisdom;
For in them she gave birth to the three godly virtues.
Now they eternally behold their bridegroom, God the Word.
Let us spiritually rejoice in their memory and cry out:
O, our three heavenly protectors!
Establish, confirm, and strengthen us
In Faith, Hope, and Love!

Many thanks to Roman for the pictures!
[nggallery id=34]

July 21st, 2013

Blessing of the Automobiles

It is a custom of Eastern Christians to have their cars and other modes of transportation blessed both when newly acquired and on or near the feast of the Prophet Elias (or Elijah as he is sometimes called), as the prophet ascended into heaven on a fiery chariot.

2 Kings 2:1 And it came about when the Lord was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here please, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3 Then the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?” And he said, “Yes, I know; be still.”

4 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5 The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be still.” 6 Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” And he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.

7 Now fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood opposite them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his mantle and folded it together and struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

9 When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” 10 He said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” 11 As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. 12 Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over.

March 31st, 2013

Pascha 2013

Without Easter, there would be no hope.

Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom
If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.

If anyone is a wise servant, let him, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.

If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.

If anyone has labored from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let him keep the feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; for he shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay. For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.

Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward. O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry!

Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.

Let no one lament his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn his transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.

He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into hades and took hades captive! He embittered it when it tasted his flesh! And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, “Hades was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions.” It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!

It took a body and, face to face, met God! It took earth and encountered heaven! It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen!

“O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory?”

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!

Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!

Christ is risen, and life reigns!

Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!

For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the First-fruits of them that slept.

To him be glory and might unto ages of ages. Amen.

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March 30th, 2013

Great and Holy Friday 2013

On Great and Holy Friday, all gather for the Vespers of the Taking-Down from the Cross, commemorating the Deposition from the Cross. The Gospel reading is a concatenation taken from all four of the Gospels. During the service, the body of Christ (the soma) is removed from the cross, as the words in the Gospel reading mention Joseph of Arimathea, wrapped in a linen shroud, and taken to the altar in the sanctuary.

Near the end of the service a plashchanytsa or “winding sheet” (a cloth embroidered with the image of Christ prepared for burial) is carried in procession three times around the church to a low table in the nave which represents the Tomb of Christ. This procession, with the faithful carrying lighted candles, represents Christ’s descent into Hades. The plashchanytsa itself represents the body of Jesus wrapped in a burial shroud, and is a roughly full-size cloth icon of the body of Christ.

Once the plashchanytsa is placed on the tomb, the faithful walk on their knees to reverence the icon of the Lord, kissing the wounds upon His hands, feet, and side.

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March 30th, 2013

Great and Holy Thursday 2013

On Great and Holy Thursday, the Lenten character of the services is for the most part set aside, and we follow a format closer to normal. The liturgical colors are changed from the somber Lenten hues to bright vestments, like Fr. Pavlo’s white and gold. At this service is read the first Passion Gospel (John 13:31-18:1), known as the “Gospel of the Testament”, and many of the normal hymns of the Divine Liturgy are substituted with the following troparion:

Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of Thy Mystery to Thine enemies, neither will I give Thee a kiss like Judas. But like the Thief will I confess Thee: Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom.

The ceremony of the Washing of Feet is normally performed in monasteries and cathedrals, but is not typically seen in parishes. Because of the joy of the Institution of the Eucharist, on this day alone during Holy Week, the strict fast is mitigated to allow wine and oil.

In the evening, after the Liturgy, all of the hangings and vestments are changed to dark Lenten colors to signify the beginning of the Passion.

Text adapted from Maundy Thursday

March 30th, 2013

Great and Holy Wednesday 2013

Presanctified Liturgy was held with the customary anointing of the sick for Great and Holy Wednesday 2013. We are all sick in soul and affected by the corruption in the world, so everyone receives the Mystery/Sacrament of Anointing on this day each year, which, combined with Confession, helps to prepare us for the Lord’s resurrection.

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March 25th, 2013

Local Confession Times for Holy Week

Picture by Водник via Wiki Commons.

Picture by Водник via Wiki Commons.

There is a Confession time this week that will work for you.

Morning, Noon, evening, and night. Dallas, Fort Worth, and everywhere between.

You pick your day, hour, and location.

St. Sophia always has Confession available before every service and by appointment. We additionally have Confession from 1-4PM on Holy Saturday this week. Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Church has Confession with Fr. Mitch Pacwa from 8 PM through the overnight vigil on Wed, Thur, and Fri.

If there isn’t one listed here that is near you, check out the Dallas or Fort Worth diocesan pages for many more choices.

It’s never too late to come back to the Lord!

 

MONDAY March 25
St. Patrick Cathedral 11:00 AM-12:00 PM
1206 Throckmorton Street
Fort Worth, TX 76102 (Map)

St. John Nepomucene 11:00 AM, 12:30 PM, 6:00 PM
401 E. Lampasas St.
Ennis, TX  75119 (Map)

Blessed John Paul II University Parish & Catholic Center 1:00-3:00 PM
1303 Eagle Drive
Denton, TX 76201 (Map)

Good Shepherd 6:00-7:00 PM
214 S. Garland Ave.
Garland, TX  75040 (Map)

St. Pius X Catholic Church 7:00-9:00 PM
3030 Gus Tomasson
Dallas, TX  75228 (Map)

 

TUESDAY March 26
St. Pius X Catholic Church 8:30-9:30 AM
3030 Gus Tomasson
Dallas, TX  75228 (Map)

St. Patrick Cathedral 11:00 AM-12:00 PM
1206 Throckmorton Street
Fort Worth, TX 76102 (Map)

St. John Nepomucene 11:00 AM, 12:30 PM
401 E. Lampasas St.
Ennis, TX  75119 (Map)

Blessed John Paul II University Parish & Catholic Center 2:00-3:00 PM
1303 Eagle Drive
Denton, TX 76201 (Map)

 

WEDNESDAY March 27
Mater Dei Latin Mass Parish 6:00-6:25 AM, 7:05-7:30 AM, 6:15-6:50 PM, 8:00-8:30 PM
2030 E. Highway 356
Irving, TX 75060 (Map)

St. John Nepomucene 7:00-7:30 AM, 12:30-2:00 PM, 6:30-9:00 PM
401 E. Lampasas St.
Ennis, TX 75119 (Map)

St. Patrick Cathedral 11:00 AM-12:00 PM
1206 Throckmorton Street
Fort Worth, TX 76102 (Map)

Blessed John Paul II University Parish & Catholic Center 1:00-3:00 PM
1303 Eagle Drive
Denton, TX 76201 (Map)

Our Lady of Perpetual Help 5:30-6:30 PM
7617 Cortland Ave
Dallas, Texas, TX 75235 (Map)

Good Shepherd 6:00-6:45 PM
1000 Tinker Rd.
Colleyville, TX 76034 (Map)

Good Shepherd 6:00-8:00 PM
214 S. Garland Ave.
Garland, TX 75040 (Map)

Holy Spirit 6:00-8:00 PM
1111 W. Danieldale Rd.
Duncanville, TX 75137 (Map)

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church 6:00-8:00 PM
3000 West Highway 22
Corsicana, TX 75110 (Map)

Mary Immaculate 6:00-8:00 PM
2800 Valwood Pkwy
Farmers Branch, TX  75234 (Map)

Holy Family 6:00-9:00 PM
2323 Cheyenne St
Irving, TX  75062 (Map)

Blessed Sacrament Church 6:00-9:00 PM
231 N Marsalis Ave
Dallas, TX, TX  75203 (Map)

Immaculate Conception 6:00-9:00 PM
400 N.E. 17th St
Grand Prairie, TX  75050 (Map)

St. Thomas Aquinas 6:00-9:00 PM
6306 Kenwood Ave
Dallas, TX  75214 (Map)

St. Michael the Archangel 6:00-9:00 PM
2910 Corn Valley Rd.
Grand Prairie, TX  75052 (Map)

St. Michael the Archangel 6:00-11:00 PM
950 Trails Pkwy
Garland, TX  75043 (Map)

St. Mark the Evangelist 6:30-8:00 PM
1201 Alma Drive
Plano, TX  75075 (Map)

Prince of Peace 6:30-9:00 PM
5100 W. Plano Pkwy
Plano, TX  75093 (Map)

St. Jude Catholic Church 6:30-9:00 PM
1515 N. Greenville Avenue
Allen, TX  75002 (Map)

St. Gabriel the Archangel 6:30-9:00 PM
110 St. Gabriel Way
McKinney, TX  75071 (Map)

St. Pius X Catholic Church 6:30-10:00 PM
3030 Gus Tomasson
Dallas, TX  75228 (Map)

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton 6:45-9:00 PM
2700 W. Spring Creek Pkwy
Plano, TX  75023 (Map)

All Saints 7:00-8:00 PM
5231 Meadowcreek
Dallas, TX  75248 (Map)

Our Lady of the Lake 7:00-8:00 PM
1305 Damascus Rd
Rockwall, TX  75087 (Map)

Holy Trinity Catholic Church 7:00-8:30 PM
3811 Oak Lawn Ave
Dallas, TX  75219 (Map)

Our Lady of Angels 7:00-9:00 PM
1914 Ridgeview Dr
Allen, TX  75013 (Map)

St. Michael the Archangel 7:00-9:00 PM
652 Redbud Ln
McKinney, TX  75069 (Map)

St. Luke 7:00-9:00 PM
202 S. MacArthur Blvd.
Irving, TX  75060 (Map)

St. Francis of Assisi  7:00-9:00 PM
1537 Rogers Ave.
Lancaster, TX  75134 (Map)

St. Ann 7:00-9:00 PM
180 Samuel Blvd
Coppell, TX  75019 (Map)

Holy Family Quasi Parish 7:00-9:00 PM
919 Spence Road
Van Alstyne, TX  75495 (Map)

St. Rita Catholic Church 7:00-9:00 PM
12521 Inwood Rd
Dallas, TX  75244 (Map)

St. Monica 7:00-9:00 PM
9933 Midway Rd
Dallas, TX  75220 (Map)

Christ the King 7:00-9:00 PM
8017 Preston Rd
Dallas, TX  75225 (Map)

Divine Mercy of Our Lord 7:30-9:30 PM
1585 E. Cartwright
Mesquite, TX  75149 (Map)

St. Joseph Catholic Church 7:30-9:00 PM
600 S. Jupiter Rd
Richardson, TX  75060 (Map)

Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe 7:30-10:00 PM
2215 Ross Avenue
Dallas, TX  75201 (Map)

St. Patrick 7:45-9:00 PM
9643 Ferndale Rd.
Dallas, TX  75238 (Map)

Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite 8:00 PM through overnight vigil
Confessions with Fr. Mitch Pacwa
719 University Place
Lewisville, TX 75067 (Map)

 

THURSDAY March 28
St. John Nepomucene 12:00 PM, 5:00 PM
401 E. Lampasas St.
Ennis, TX  75119 (Map)

St. Patrick 3:30-4:30 PM
9643 Ferndale Rd.
Dallas, TX  75238 (Map)

Christ the King 4:00-5:30 PM
8017 Preston Rd
Dallas, TX  75225 (Map)

Mater Dei Latin Mass Parish before, during, and after 7:30 PM Mass
2030 E. Highway 356
Irving, TX  75060 (Map)

Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite 8:00 PM through overnight vigil
Confessions with Fr. Mitch Pacwa
719 University Place
Lewisville, TX 75067 (Map)

 

FRIDAY March 29
St. John Nepomucene 8 AM, 12:00 PM
401 E. Lampasas St.
Ennis, TX  75119 (Map)

Mater Dei Latin Mass Parish during 12 Noon Stations of the Cross
2030 E. Highway 356
Irving, TX  75060 (Map)

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton 1:30-2:30 PM (in the chapel)
2700 W. Spring Creek Pkwy
Plano, TX  75023 (Map)

St. Patrick 4:00-5:00 PM
9643 Ferndale Rd.
Dallas, TX  75238 (Map)

Christ the King 4:00-5:30 PM
8017 Preston Rd
Dallas, TX  75225 (Map)

Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite 8:00 PM through overnight vigil
Confessions with Fr. Mitch Pacwa
719 University Place
Lewisville, TX 75067 (Map)

 

SATURDAY March 30
St. Patrick 9:00-10:00 AM, 3:00-4:00 PM
9643 Ferndale Rd.
Dallas, TX  75238 (Map)

St. John Nepomucene 10:00 AM, 3:00 PM
401 E. Lampasas St.
Ennis, TX  75119 (Map)

St. Sophia Ukrainian Catholic Church 1:00-4:00 PM
5600 N Colony BLVD
The Colony, TX  75056 (Map)

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton 3:00-4:30 PM
2700 W. Spring Creek Pkwy
Plano, TX  75023 (Map)

Christ the King 4:00-5:30 PM
8017 Preston Rd
Dallas, TX  75225 (Map)

Mater Dei Latin Mass Parish 9:30 PM overnight through Easter Vigil
2030 E. Highway 356
Irving, TX  75060 (Map)

 

We’re leaving a light on for you!
Still can’t find a time to receive the Mystery of Reconciliation before Pascha? Call or write us and we’ll help you locate a location nearer you and we’ll make sure any who desire it are able to be reconciled with the Lord. We have Confession before every service this week and we will schedule them whenever you’re ready.

Early Church Fathers on Confession
Confession in the Bible
Guide to a Good Confession

March 16th, 2013

Fr. Dennis leads Lenten Mission 2013

Fr. Dennis Smith embraces a newly ordained priest

Picture courtesy North Texas Catholic

Fr. Dennis Smith returned to our parish to give a mission in the fifth week of Lent. We are grateful for his spiritual guidance and presence.

Fr. Dennis spoke of healing and how healing comes in two form: spiritual and physical. Healing restores the “wholeness” of the person. Obviously, confession is a big part of healing. It is especially important in this Lenten season to go to confession.

“Why pay top dollar to psychologist when you have a priest available for free?”

He guided us on the proper preparation for Easter, reminding us that there is still time to improve or reach our Lenten goal if we have not done so yet.

February 18th, 2013

Daria’s Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew

Ingredients

2 Tbsp coconut or extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 diced large onion
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 minced cloves garlic
2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 peeled and diced sweet potatoes
1 diced (stemmed, seeded) red bell pepper
1 1/2 cups rinsed red lentils
6 cups Cleansing Broth
Chopped fresh cilantro

 

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook cumin, turmeric and curry powder until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add onion with a few pinches salt, and cook, stirring, until tender, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until tender, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add sweet potatoes and bell pepper and cook 1 minute.
  5. Add lentils and Cleansing Broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Top with cilantro before serving.

Serves 4
Whole Living, January/February 2013

February 17th, 2013

Triumph of Orthodoxy 2013

Today we celebrated the Triumph of Orthodoxy, or the end of iconoclasm. We brought icons, images, holy cards, and crosses to be blessed. The homily is inevitably about the final defeat of iconoclasm and the restoration of the icons to the churches which occurred on the first Sunday of Lent in the year 842 with the Synod of Constantinople.

Fr. Pavlo, whose third child is expected to make her debut in a few weeks, gave a homily on the abuse of icons and the outrage it should cause. He did not mean the wood and paint icons like those we brought to be blessed, but the living icons made of flesh and blood. He asked us why we, living icons re-presenting Christ to the world, allow hunger, racism, and war to be perpetuated. How we in the church can stand by as untold millions of flesh and blood icons of Christ are killed, caring more about a sports game on TV or the latest tech gadget being released than the people dying around us in the Holocaust, the Holodomor, or the abortion that surrounds us in numbers so high he couldn’t bear to count them.

Fr. Pavlo said others might disagree and they were welcome to debate him, but that we cannot protect wood and paint if we will not protect flesh and blood. He challenged us: if we will not protect life from natural conception to natural death, we might as well take all the icons, crosses, holy cards and images that people brought to be blessed and smash them outside on the ground. What good are they to us, he asked, if we will not protect the living icons of Christ, like the unborn, disabled, and elderly among us?

If you can visit the parish’s sick and elderly homebound or volunteer a few hours to any of the local ministries that work to promote the dignity of human life, please contact Father Pavlo.
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February 10th, 2013

Forgiveness Vespers 2013

Forgiveness Vespers

February 2nd, 2013

The Presentation of Christ 2013

According to the gospel of Luke, Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days after his birth to complete Mary’s ritual purification after childbirth and to perform the redemption of the firstborn in obedience to the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12, Exodus 13:12-15, etc.). Luke explicitly says that Joseph and Mary take the option provided for poor people who could not afford a lamb (Leviticus 12:8), sacrificing “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Leviticus 12:1-4 indicates that this event should take place forty days after birth for a male child, hence the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ in the Temple (AKA the Meeting of Our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ) is celebrated forty days after Christmas. The West also calls this feast Candlemas or the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin.

Upon bringing Jesus into the temple, Mary and Joseph encountered Simeon. The Gospel records that Simeon had been promised that “he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26). Simeon prayed the prayer that would become known as the Nunc Dimittis, or Canticle of Simeon, which prophesied the redemption of the world by Jesus:

Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace; according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people: to be a light to lighten the gentiles and to be the glory of Thy people Israel (Luke 2:29-32).

Simeon then prophesied to Mary: “Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against. Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35). The elderly prophetess Anna was also in the Temple, and offered prayers and praise to God for Jesus, and spoke to everyone there about Jesus and his role in the redemption of Israel (Luke 2:36-38).

The Feast of the Presentation is among the most ancient feasts of the Church and it is unique among the Great Feasts in that it combines elements of both a Great Feast of the Lord and a Great Feast of the Theotokos (Mother of God). Originally, the feast was a minor celebration. But then in 541 a terrible plague broke out in Constantinople, killing thousands. The Emperor Justinian I, in consultation with the Patriarch of Constantinople, ordered a period of fasting and prayer throughout the entire Empire. And, on the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord, arranged great processions throughout the towns and villages and a solemn prayer service (Litia) to ask for deliverance from evils, and the plague ceased. In thanksgiving, in 542 the feast was elevated to a more solemn celebration and established throughout the Eastern Empire by the Emperor. From there, it spread to the west where it added the custom of blessing candles

Late in time though it may be, Candlemas is still the most ancient of all the festivals in honor of the Virgin Mary. It is this feast of purification on the 40th day after childbirth that leads to our custom of churching women following childbirth today. With the celebration of this feast, we took down the greenery and said goodbye to the Christmas season. Subsequent moveable feasts are calculated with reference to Easter. The Great Fast is already upon us…

Text largely adopted from Presentation of Jesus at the Temple wiki.

June 29th, 2012

It’s the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul!

Today we end the Apostles Fast with Liturgy at 7PM. Join us as we celebrate the life and faith of the Holy Glorious and All-Praised Leader of the Apostles, Ss. Peter and Paul. With them, we pray for unity in the Church and the world.

Troparion (Tone 4)
First-enthroned of the apostles,
teachers of the universe:
Entreat the Master of all
to grant peace to the world,
and to our souls great mercy!

Kontakion (Tone 2)
O Lord, You have taken up to eternal rest
and to the enjoyment of Your blessings
the two divinely-inspired preachers, the leaders of the Apostles,
for You have accepted their labors and deaths as a sweet-smelling sacrifice,
for You alone know what lies in the hearts of men.

Kontakion (Tone 2)
Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor
The rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles,
Together with Paul and the company of the twelve,
Whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith,
Giving glory to the one who gave glory to them!

Saints Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome under Emperor Nero in the year 87. Peter was crucified, head down at his own request [so that he would not die in the same way as Christ], and because Paul was a Roman Citizen, he was beheaded. The Church unites them in a common celebration and gives them identical honor.

Peter, a brother of Andrew the First-Called, was from Bethsaida. They were the sons of Jonas, of the tribe of Simeon. They lived by the work of their hands. At the time when John the Baptist was in prison, Jesus came to the Lake of Genesarett, and finding Peter and Andrew mending their nets, He called them and they followed Him without hesitation. Peter preached the Gospel in Judea, founded the Church of Antioch and finally came to Rome.

Paul, a Pharisee, belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. He was born in Tarsus of Asia Minor. At first, he persecuted the Church with great zeal and violence, imprisoning and killing Christians. But Christ appeared to him on the way to Damascus and changed his heart. He was baptized in Damascus by Ananias. He was to become one of the greatest exponents of Christ’s teachings, which he explained in letters or epistles.

Taken from Byzantine Daily Worship.

June 3rd, 2012

The Abiding Flame: What the Holy Spirit offers to every generation

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

The celebration of the feast of Pentecost officially ends the Paschal season. As we celebrate this glorious feast, we focus on the Holy Spirit and recall how He came down onto the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ in the form of tongues of fire, fulfilling the promise that Christ had given them while He was still with them. This spirit was the Comforter, the Heavenly King, who would lead them into the fullness of the Truth concerning God and would be for them their final preparatory gift from God for the ministry they were about to embrace.

“Was it upon the twelve that it [the Holy Spirit] came? Not so; but upon the hundred and twenty. For Peter would not have quoted to no purpose the testimony of the prophet, saying, ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams’ (Joel 2:28). ‘And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.’ (Mt. 3:11).” –St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles

After the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples and followers they felt a new power within them. These men and women, old and young, were inspired by the Holy Spirit to a new purpose, a new goal, and a new destiny. There was a new energy and urgency to carry out their mission. Those people had new courage to face persecutions. They had new boldness to speak about their faith. They had a new passion powerfully burning inside them to stand before their own families, friends, and neighbors and boldly proclaim the good news about Jesus Christ and His gospel. After all, they WERE ON FIRE!

They were on fire because on that day of Pentecost, God has set the world on fire. Divine, all-consuming fire, that once started would last until the ends of the world. The fire that made the disciples more passionate and outspoken about their faith. The fire that was not possible to resist or to keep enclosed, but needed to be communicated to other people, to be shared with other nations to be preached and proclaimed throughout the entire world!

The feast of Pentecost was a cause of great rejoicing for the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ some 2,000 years ago. It is also still a cause of great joy and celebration today because the same fire that caused the hearts of Jesus’ disciples to burn within them still burns as hot today as it did when Christ walked the earth. Pentecost is not some kind of a liturgical event from the past; it is a celebration beyond space and time, for there is a constant outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that divine fire, is still alive and burning hot even today through the sacramental Mysteries, the Church’s teachings, and the Sacred Scriptures. That fire that burns within us that we received as we were chrismated–that working of the Holy Spirit within us–transforms, melts, tempers, and purifies us. It makes us participants of that apostolic calling to spread the Gospel of Christ in word and deed wherever we happen to find ourselves in the world.

“…Filled with love, the holy Apostles went into the world, preaching salvation to mankind and fearing nothing, for the Spirit of God was their strength. When St. Andrew was threatened with death upon the cross if he did not stay his preaching he answered: ‘If I feared the cross I should not be preaching the Cross.” In this manner all the other Apostles, and after them the martyrs and holy men who wrestled against evil, went forward with joy to meet pain and suffering. For the Holy Spirit, sweet and gracious, draws the soul to love the Lord, and in the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the soul loses her fear of suffering.” -Silouan the Athonite, “Wisdom from Mt. Athos”

Will we be so focused on our own little worlds that we become oblivious to God and the people around us? Will we block His presence in our lives? We are called as baptized and chrismated Christians to be effective witnesses to the Gospel just like the apostles and other believers were. Male and female, old and young, we must be willing to let the Holy Spirit flow and work through us and our actions.

“The aim of all those who live in God is to please our Lord Jesus Christ and become reconciled with God the Father through receiving the Holy Spirit, thus securing their salvation, for in this consists the salvation of every soul. If this aim and this activity is lacking, all other labour is useless and all other striving is in vain. Every path of life which does not lead to this is without profit.” -St. Simeon the New Theologian, “Writings from the Philokalia”

May God bless us all and may the works of the Holy Spirit be visible through our actions and in the choices we make in our lives. Amen.

-Fr. Pavlo

April 21st, 2012

Holy Week and Easter 2012

Girls in traditional Ukrainian dress hold candlesHoly Week and Easter was a blessed time at St. Sophia parish! We were more focused on living our faith than on documenting it so few videos or pictures were taken. Here are a couple to give you a glimpse into our celebrations of Jesus’ life-giving death and saving Resurrection. We hope you come and see for yourself soon as we look forward to sharing the hope that is in us with you!

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March 25th, 2012

Lenten Mission 2012 part 2 with Fr. Dennis Smith

March 24th, 2012

Lenten Mission 2012 part 1 with Fr. Dennis Smith

February 29th, 2012

Pastoral letter of His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) to the faithful of the UGCC for Great Lent 2012

Source: UGCC.org
«Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!»
Mt. 4:17

Dear in Christ!

With these words of our Divine Savior, the Church of Christ is calling today each and every one of us to commence a blessed time of the Great Fast. The name “Great” of this fast is not accidental: it is caused by those God’s gifts and fruits for our spiritual life, which we can attain during this time, provided we spend it worthily. The greatness of this time is likewise determined by the depth of a spiritual change of our person and our life, which will be the result of the meeting with the merciful and loving Heavenly Father.

Hence, how do we live out this period worthily, so as to transform and enrich our lives? First of all, dear in Christ, we need to remember that fasting does not only mean limiting ourselves in food and entertainment. Fasting is primarily to keep away from sin, from evil habits and passions. It is also a rejection of indifference, evil thoughts and selfishness. Lent is an invitation, addressed to each of us, wounded by sins, encumbered with infirmities and depleted with the daily chores, to surrender ourselves to the Lord’s embrace.

The Fathers and spiritual teachers of the Church, urging Christians to live out the fast worthily, called it a time of spiritual awakening and renewal of man; they compared it with the spiritual spring, during which the divine life awakens in our souls: “…When winter ends and we start coming closer to the spring warmth, a seafarer takes his boat again out into the sea, a soldier cleans his weapons and trains his horse for a fight, a peasant sharpens his tools, a traveler, having felt a surge of strength, girds and embarks on a journey… And so let us also, at this time of the coming of the spiritual spring, similarly fix our spiritual weapons as soldiers, let us sharpen our tools as farmers, and, like the true leaders, let us take into our hands the boat of our spirit so as to be prepared to endure the heaps of the waves of senseless passions and, as the pilgrims heading towards our heavenly homeland, let us begin the fulfillment of our spiritual journey” (St. John Chrysostom, Word to the Antiochian People, 3).

Lent is a special time of repentance and penance. Just as in nature, a normal sign of an early spring is the awakening of all creatures to a new life, similarly the human soul, through repentance and penance, comes to life and, having been warmed by the warmness of God’s mercy and love, is freed from the dead stiffness and produces sprouts of a new life in the Holy Spirit. Whoever honestly admits his sins in the Holy Sacrament of Penance, feels the good-giving action of the warmth of God’s life-giving love. And just as spring wins over winter, so the power of the Lord’s forgiveness wins over fear, weakness and disbelief in us, proving that the Divine love is stronger than our sin and that there is no evil force, which would be able to resist the saving mercy of the Heavenly Father. That is why Prophet David, in repenting burst, sings to the Lord: “May Your compassion come to me that I may live, for Your law is my delight” (Ps. 119:77). Revived through repentance and penance and united with the Lord in the Holy Communion, a believer blossoms with God’s beauty of the righteous life and becomes the bearer of hope for his environs as well as for the entire society. For just as sin has a devastating impact not only on a sinner himself, but on all of his environs as well, conversion and repentance bring healing to our relationship with God, our neighbor and all of the creation.

Lent is a time of intensive prayer. Giving up during this period on entertainment, we concomitantly need to pay more attention to the communication with God: through participation in Lenten liturgical services in the church as well as through longer and more intense prayer in family circle and solitude. We cannot devoid of our attention a practice that has recently been introduced in our Church – the reading of God’s Word. Every day the faithful, whether alone or with the family or gathered in prayer groups in parishes, reflect upon and pray with some excerpts from the Sacred Scripture. In this way, the Word of God becomes for us a spiritual nourishment as well as recalls for us that “man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4). I fervently entrust to continue and spread this pious practice. And for those who have not started doing this yet, may Lent become an opportunity to begin to get to know the Word of God as well as to live it out ever more.

Charitable deeds are likewise a necessary condition of Lenten spiritual journey. The Lord, through the words of the Prophet Isaiah, directs to all of us a special call, showing the meaning of an authentic fast: “Is this not the fast that choose? … Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Is. 58:6-7). Just as in nature, the emergence of fresh green shoots in spring exposes the life of a plant, so the Christian almsgiving is a sign of the spiritual awakening of man, his openness to God and neighbor as well as a compelling witness of the living faith, “working through love” (Gal. 5:6). All Christians are called to do the almsgiving, regardless of wealth or financial capability. St. Pope Leo the Great teaches that “nothing can get into the way of our charity, with which we fulfill a vocation of the love of God and neighbor… Not only the rich and wealthy can perform the charity works vis-à-vis their neighbor, but also those that are poor and with the limited fortunes… Almsgiving transforms inequality in terms of the earthly goods into equality in obtaining the heavenly gifts” (Word on the occasion of Lent, 6, 1-2).

Dear in Christ! The time of Lent opens for us the way to Heaven. Let’s embark on it in the spirit of repentance, prayer and almsgiving. Let us walk it together, growing in the grace of the Holy Spirit. Let me remind you about the obligation to partake in this blessed time in the Holy Sacraments of Confession and Communion. May Lent grant us with the renewal of the spiritual life, the awakening of the Christian zeal and love of God and neighbor in our parish communities and monastery ambits! I implore our Father, “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tm. 2:4), to lovingly bring all of you closer to His merciful paternal heart and, having forgiven your sins, make you, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the partakers of the glory of the resurrection of His Divine Son.

The blessing of the Lord be upon you!

† SVIATOSLAV

Given in Kyiv,
at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ,
on Cheesefare Saturday, 25th February 2012 A. D.

February 22nd, 2012

The Bright Sadness

Today marks the third day of our 48-day Great Fast that is leading us to the Paschal joy of the Resurrection.  As our Roman Catholic brethren begin their lenten journeys today by putting ashes on their heads, we continue ours with the   vesperal Pre-Sanctified Liturgy. As they bury their alleluias, we enter the Season of Alleluias. As they carry the cross with Christ and unite themselves to His sufferings in the Stations of the Cross, we look to the Resurrection in our All Souls Saturdays with the parastas or memorial prayers. As they kneel in repentance, we prostrate ourselves before each other and the Lord.

Many of the externals are different in how East and West make their lenten journeys, but the tri-fold path of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are at the root of our Christian conversion, our metanoia, our transfiguration, our theosis in Christ. Our traditions provide the framework that supports the repentance and conversion we are all called to.

What do we want to happen to us? The Great Fast calls you and me to embrace the need for conversion. We need to desire it. This happens through prayer, through fasting and through acts of charity. These help to remove our natural inclination to resistance to conversion. Prayer, fasting and charitable works orient us to understand God’s grace occurring all around us. Parishioners, together with their pastor, share in the quest for one another’s conversion. We support one another in our journey to a closer encounter with Jesus Christ. Plan to journey together this Great Fast by participating in your parish Lenten services and outreach to others.

Our journey in Great Fast has begun. We have focused ourselves on devoting greater time for prayer and meditation, and have resolved to fast and to offer something extra of ourselves in assisting others in need. Throughout the many parables, we learn of Jesus’ immense mercy. Jesus heals the sick and possessed. Jesus forgives the sinners. You and I can easily find ourselves amidst the sick, the possessed, and the sinners. Admitting that we have offended God, ourselves and others is needed before we can receive true forgiveness and healing. You will recall that those who asked Jesus for help were honest with themselves as to their condition. You and I need to be honest with ourselves about our weaknesses. Is there some anger, bad thoughts, resentment, and so on which we have found difficult to let go? Are there some personal failings which we continue to focus on, be it our own or by others? Whatever it is which possesses us, causes sickness and sinfulness, resolve to surrender it at the feet of Jesus Christ. Jesus is ready to forgive. Jesus is ready to heal. Are you and I ready to approach Jesus Christ with the honesty and readiness needed to be forgiven and to be healed this Great Fast?
-Metropolitan Stefan’s reflections for this week via The Way

Father Pavlo is available 30 minutes before every service for Confession, which includes tonight before the 7PM Pre-Sanctified Liturgy.

“Have you sinned? Go into Church and wipe out your sin. As often as you might fall down in the marketplace, you pick yourself up again. So too, as often as you sin, repent your sin. Do not despair. Even if you sin a second time, repent a second time. Do not by indifference lose hope entirely of the good things prepared. Even if you are in extreme old age and have sinned, go in, repent!”
-St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Penance 3:4

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February 19th, 2012

Forgiveness Sunday 2012

On this last day before we enter the Great Lent, we recall the words of Matthew 6:

14For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences.

15But if you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offences.

16And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.

17But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face;

18That thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee.

In humility before God, we ask our clergy and our fellow parishioners to forgive us for every hurt and offense we’ve caused in deed, thought, word, or omission, intentionally or unintentionally. We begin our practice of Lenten prostration by prostrating ourselves before our clergy and each other as we say, “Forgive me, a sinner.” What a blessing it is to be able to hear and speak the response: “The Lord forgives!”

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February 16th, 2012

Great Fast Pastoral from UGCC Bishops in USA

To Our Reverend Clergy, Reverend Religious, Seminarians and Faithful,

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

In twenty-first century America, it is impossible to escape the influence of fundamentalist Protestantism: it dominates the airwaves in the person of charismatic preachers, and it undergirds many of the positions taken by politicians. For them, the Bible is the only source of revelation. In this they are very different from Catholics and Orthodox, who are aware of the revelation manifested by the Holy Spirit in the living Tradition of the Church. For example, fundamentalist Protestants would discount the value of the Great Fast since it is not found in scripture; we, on the other hand, know that out Lenten observances provide an opportunity for us to encounter the Lord in a special way.

For us Ukrainian Catholics, our Lenten observances take on a distinct flavor, which is very different even from what is experienced among the Roman Catholics. These differences go beyond the fact that we begin the Great Fast two days before Ash Wednesday and finish it earlier than they, on Lazarus Saturday – that is, the day before Palm Sunday. Our emphasis is in fact very different from the Roman Catholics, who focus on the sufferings of Christ; this is evident in the Stations of the Cross – a quintessential Roman Catholic devotional practice not native to our spirituality.

Our Byzantine spirituality chooses, rather, to focus on conversion. This is expressed in the English word “repentance” which, contrary to popular belief, does not refer to sorrow for sins; rather, repentance is about a change of direction – that is, away from sin and toward God. This is also expressed in the Greek word metanoia, from which we get our Ukrainian word metania, which refers to the bow that we make every time we enter the church. As our metanias are not limited to the Great Fast, neither is our metanoia, our conversion; in fact, our ever-deeper conversion to the ways of the Lord Jesus Christ is the sum of the Christian life. The Great Fast is but a microcosm of the spiritual life, inviting us to focus more intently upon the life, which we should be living all year long.

The theme of conversion comes out clearly in our liturgies. In the weeks leading up to the beginning of the Great Fast, the Gospel readings provide us with examples of conversion to emulate: the eagerness of Zacchaeus, the repentance of the publican, the return of the prodigal son. This theme continues during the Great Fast, where the Church holds up for us the dramatic conversion of Holy Mother Mary of Egypt.

You are certainly all familiar with our Lenten practices: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Of the three, fasting has probably received the greatest emphasis, as is evident in the question “What are you going to give up for Lent?” For those who make the extra effort to come to church, we see that fasting even invades the liturgical realm: Divine Liturgy is forbidden on the weekdays of the Great Fast as we fast from that joyous celebration of “dynamic” Eucharist, so we need to content ourselves with the “static” Eucharist – that is, reception of the reserved sacrament during the majestic yet penitential Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. So often forgotten is the almsgiving which might give an indication that the other practices are more than theatrical. Remember: the Lenten practices are not an end in themselves; rather, they are aimed at our conversion of heart, and this includes a growing recognition of the “neighbor” whom God has given to us so that we might share our blessings.

Let us support one another during this holy season of the Great Fast, so that we – as individuals and as Church – might indeed come to the conversion which Christ desires of us.

+Stefan Soroka
Metropolitan-Archbishop of Philadelphia

+Richard Seminack
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM
Eparch of Stamford

+John Bura
Apostolic Administrator of St. Josaphat in Parma

Great Fast, 2012
http://esnucc.org/news-amp-events/pastoral-letters-6