Every second Saturday of the month, 4 pm - Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ. Followed by refreshments.
13 December, 2014, 27th Sunday - 10 January, 2014, Sunday after Christmas
26-28 November 2014 - Eastern Christian Thought & Practice for 21st Century Europe,Theotokos Institute, University of Cardiff. Prof Andrew Louth (Durham), Dr Roman Zaviyskyy (Lviv Ukrainian Catholic University), Bishop Vahan Hovhanissian (Armenian Apostolic Church in Britain) - Details from http://www.tics.org.uk/
27 November 2014 - Constantinople Lecture of the Anglican & Eastern Churches Association and the Fellowship of St Alban & St Sergius - Fr John Behr, Dean of St Vladimir's Seminary, New York USA: Take Back Death! Christian Witness in the Twenty-First Century. St Mellitus College, 24 Collingham Road, LONDON SW5 0LX. 6 pm Evening Prayer, 7pm Lecture. All Welcome.
Thursday, 13 November 2014
Homily for the Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost, Holy Family Cathedral, London, 9th November 2014
Picture Saint Paul dictating his letter to the Church in Galatia. When his assistant has finished, Paul takes up the pen personally, and adds some final thoughts. He speaks of writing with large letters. Perhaps he is losing his eyesight, for he was once an expert writer and religious official himself; or, perhaps, writing as small as his scribe could, to get as much wording on the page of the expensive parchment as possible, was now too painful for him – he speaks of being unable to deal with the Church troublemakers, because he bears the marks of Jesus on his own body.
These are very interesting last few sentences, conveying the thoughts right at the forefront of St Paul’s mind. He compares and contrasts outward physical appearances with the inner truths that last because they mean something. He begins with the outsize appearance of his handwriting; and he ends with the outward appearance of wounds upon his skin. But he turns to attention to the greater fact of life that lies among and within what we experience as real in the world. Thus he questions the Galatian Christians, a community of Jews and Gentiles alike, if they have lost sight of what being a Christian is all about. Christ was circumcised not because it was a cultural convention, but because from time immemorial it had been a sacramental sign of the people’s faith in their covenant with God. “An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace,” it was the mark of an undertaking by the Hebrews and the Jews to take the law of God to their own hearts and keep it as the light of their lives. But here were people who did not take the law of God seriously themselves, yet insisted that the new people who wanted to follow Christ’s conform to an outward appearance, an appearance that on its own meant nothing without the inner meaning of love, obedience, and bonding with our God.
We are reminded of the words of the Prophet Micah, expressing the patience of God at humanity’s continual cycle of betrayal, disobedience and trying to buy back God’s favour with a surfeit of religion and sacrificial offering. The Lord asks, “O my people, what have I done to you? How have I wearied you?” The response is predictable: the offer of year-old calves, rams in their thousands, rivers of oil to burn the Temple lamps, even a human sacrifice. Wearily, Prophet Micah explains it all over again: “You have been told what would be good; you have been told what the Lord requires: to do justice, to love goodness, and to work humbly with your God.” (Micah 6. 3, 8)
It is, of course, easier to perform the outward appearance of religion – the customs, the behaviours; the fretting over the way other people bow, or make the sign of the Cross; the sharp eye on other people’s morals, while presuming forgiveness for one’s own shortcomings; the profession of righteous activity backed up with a word of criticism (a hint of our own insecurity perhaps) for those who we want to show are not up to the mark. There is nothing new under the sun; and St Paul was as worn down by self-righteous troublemakers as his successors have been right down the ages to this day. He told the Church at Corinth that people like that are like brass gongs – a lot of sound is made when the hammer strikes, but they make no music of their own: much reverberation, but no heart; much noise, but no love (cf. I Corinthians 13.1). Pope Francis says exactly the same about the poison of gossip, telling religious superiors this week that it actually be more honest to come to blows, so much more insidious and harmful is the hidden attack of pitiless, unloving gossip (Address to 54th National Assembly of Religious Superiors of Italy, 7 November 2014).
He has spoken, too, of Christians who are lukewarm and mediocre, people who look like Christians, but who are really worldly. He says, “They are enemies of the Cross of Christ. They take the name but they do not follow the responsibilities of Christian life. Do I like to brag? Do I like money? Do I like pride, arrogance?... These types of people get corrupted bit by bit and end up becoming pagan Christians” (Homily on 8 November, 2014, Santa Marta, Rome on Philippians 3.18). He is quoting St Paul, who saw the remedy to all this in self-giving love. For he points all those people who make trouble - all those obsessed with outward form, all those intruding their own anxieties into the souls of others - to the only thing that matters, to Jesus Christ on his Cross, the Cross that makes everything else beside the point. Appearance, law, immemorial custom, personal identity, self-realisation, individual spiritualities: all these mean nothing, unless we have become a new creation at the hand of Christ nailed to its Cross.
It is no accident that St Paul seizes on what must have seemed to be an endless and enervating fine argument about circumcision. It is as though he is saying, “Do you foolish Galatians not realise that when Jesus was circumcised, it was the first time He shed His blood for us? Do you not realise you are arguing about the Cross itself? Do you not see that all this argument about who gets to belong to the people of God - who can and can’t come in - has itself been crucified. With Christ’s death it has been killed off and, unlike Him it has not risen from the dead. Only Christ is alive and His resurrection is what has freed us to be made into new creations.
He tells them that marks he bears in his body are those caused by a Cross that ended his old life. They are also caused by the Resurrection freeing him to be made into something different now. “I have been crucified with Christ,” he has explained to them. “It is not any more I who live, but Christ who lives within me” (Galatians 2.20). His parting word is that this grace, the very living of Christ in a human soul, will be in their spirit too.
And what of us, with our conflicting thoughts, wants, feelings, grudges, self-pity, words, thoughts, excuses, dreams, conceit and sin? Are we the pagan Christians of which Pope Francis spoke, gradually corrupted by mediocrity, settling for less when we are free to have everything if, like the Lord we follow, we did but do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God? The devil would certainly like us to think so, crowding into us so many of his unclean spirits, to make us feel defeated and overwhelmed, tormented even by the attempt of Christ at relief, neuralgic even at the thought of his touch.
Instead, let us be the ones who call out “Save us,” to the one we can see is not the Punisher but the Lover of Mankind (Kontakion of Sunday, Tone 5). Let us long even to endure that crucifixion with Christ that made St Paul into a new creation. Let it be that just one spirit casts out all else, one spirit that dwells in us richly: Christ who is God’s love, Christ who is our unbreakable bonding with His Father.
Fr Mark Woodruff
Monday, 27 October 2014
- A Lecture Series on the Armenian Church in history, during the Soviet era and its rebirth post-secularisation
- Christianity in the Middle East - Life and Death of a Tradition? A collaboration with the Las Casas Institute at Blackfriars in Oxford
- Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Syriac Orthodox Church
- Oriental Orthodoxy in Dialogue with the Catholic Church: Christology
Please follow the special link to the Centre's page on our site by clicking on the tab above.
Monday, 13 October 2014
Consultation will involve common pastoral concerns, and promote mutual understanding, contact and exchange, including theological dialogue that can contribute to greater unity among the two Churches in the setting of contemporary society in the UK and also disseminate in this country the work of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church.
At the first meeting, the Consultation looked at the place and education of Orthodox children in Roman Catholic schools, as well as present developments in the international dialogue. The second meeting in London on 29 September 2014 reviewed these discussions, and also began to examine questions of marriage and family life with a view to the forthcoming Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church.
The lifetime of the Consultation is five years in the first instance and will conclude with a final report. Reports and statements may also be issued along the way.
At the end of their September meeting, the Consultation issued a message of solidarity and support for the Christians and their Churches in Iraq and Syria at the present moment of their suffering, dispersal and witness for the sake of faithfulness to Christ.
The members are:
For the Fellowship of St Alban & St Sergius
Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia (Orthodox Co-Chairman and Patron of the Fellowship)
Archpriest Stephen Platt (Orthodox Co-Secretary and General Secretary of the Fellowship)
Protopresbyter Ian Graham, rector of the Parish of the Holy Trinity, Oxford
Dr Julia Konstantinovsky, University of Oxford (Sister Seraphima, Monastery of St John Baptist, Tolleshunt Knights)
Dr Brandon Gallaher (Lecturer in Theology, University of Exeter)
For the Society of St John Chrysostom
Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham (Catholic Co-Chairman and Patron of the Society)
Father Mark Woodruff (Catholic Co-Secretary and Vice-Chairman of the Society)
Bishop Robert Byrne CO (Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham)
Sister Benedict Gaughan osb (Convenor of the East-West Monastic Meetings at St Mildred’s Priory, Minster Abbey)
Anthony O’Mahony (Director of the Centre for Eastern Christianity, Heythrop College University of London)
The Plight of the Christians of the Middle East: Message from the Catholic & Orthodox Pastoral Consultation in England, September 2014
At the present moment of their suffering, dispersal and witness for the sake of faithfulness to Christ, we pray for their continued growth, strength and enduring presence in the Middle East in peace and safety, as integral members of their societies’ history, identity and future.
Increasingly, these very Churches in diaspora are becoming close to us in England as the Christians of the Middle East seek safety and a future in the West. Already they are forming part of the developing character and shape of the Christian Church in Britain as a whole, not least as we seek the restoration of our unity in the one Body of Christ. To them and to their bishops among us we also extend our heartfelt concern and prayer for the security and deliverance of their families and fellow Church members in their homelands.
Above all we pray for a peace that is just, in which those of all faiths may live in harmony and freedom, Christian refugees can return to restore their Churches, wrongs are put right through mutual and equal respect, enemies reconciled and hope for the future assured.
Society of St John Chrysostom - Fellowship of St Alban & St Sergius
29 September 2014
Note: The Catholic-Orthodox Pastoral Consultation is an initiative to discuss matters of mutual concern and interest, jointly sponsored by the Fellowship of St Alban & St Sergius (www.sobornost.org) and the Society of St John Chrysostom (www.orientalelumen.org.uk), sister societies founded in the 1920s to raise awareness of the Eastern Churches and to work for East-West Church Unity.
Sunday, 12 October 2014
Ecumenism in London, or What I Did This Summer | Royal Doors
Just one slight note of correction: the Eparchy of the Holy Family of London has its own territory, which covers Great Britain, and the Cathedral parish is not a personal parish forming part of the territory of the Latin primatial diocese of Westminster's local deanery; nor is its archbishop the metropolitan for the eparchy. That said, the relations with neighbouring Latin parishes - St James' Spanish Place, the Jesuit Church of Our Lady on Farm Street, and the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham's parish at the Assumption & St Gregory - are excellent.
At Corpus Christi there is a large street procession between Farm Street and Spanish Place and for the first time this year it made a station at the doors of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, where the Blessed Sacrament was venerated at a specially erected Holy Table, while prayers in Ukrainian and English offered for Britain and Ukraine, and Benediction in the Latin rite given before the procession made its way. The Ukrainian Cathedral Choir welcomed the Procession and the Blessed Sacrament singing beautiful hymns that moved everyone. It was a remarkable meeting of Christian East and West, marked by the integrity of the two traditions respecting each other at a moment of intense faith and devotion. In 2015, the principal officiant at the Procession will be the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Nichols, assisted by Kyr Hlib Lonchyna the eparchial bishop of the Holy Family eparchy. Kyr Hlib has the distinction of being the first Catholic bishop "of London" since the deposition of Bishop Edmund Bonner in 1559 - not of the Latin but of a Greek-Byzantine Church.
Saturday, 11 October 2014
Homily for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Tone 1, Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, London
The icon depicting the events of this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 5.1-11) shows the Lord standing on the shore of the lake. A crowd presses in on Him and there are too many, too close, for Him to make Himself heard. He sees Peter’s and James & John’s boats, and climbs in while the fishermen are mending their nets. He gets them to put out into the water just far enough, so that everyone can see Him and hear Him easily, using the surface of the lake to convey the sound of His voice.
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today..
O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord, Emmanuel.
Thursday, 2 October 2014
Friday, 26 September 2014
Bombing jihadists in Syria could make life worse for Christians in the region, the Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo has warned.
Archbishop Boutros Marayati told the missionary news agency Fides that Syrian Christians did not consider those conducting the raids to be “liberators”.
"People here do not have a clear view of what is going on,” he said. “The prevailing sentiment is that the raids will not solve the problems, and may even increase them. The uncertainty that everyone lives every day increases even more. A question fathers and mothers of families ask themselves is whether it is still possible to remain or if the only salvation is to escape," he said.
Meanwhile the Catholic charity Pax Christi International urged the United Nations to look for non-violent solutions to the expansion of the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS).
Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa, and Marie Dennis, Pax Christi International co-presidents, and José Henriquez, the organisation's secretary-general, told the Catholic News Service that the air raids could serve to boost IS’s recruitment.
"We believe that especially the expansion of bombing is more likely to create significant recruiting bonanza for some of the extremist groups, ISIS included," Ms Dennis said.
Commenting on the situation in Iraq, Bishop Dowling said that the US invasion of the country in 2003 proved that war and violence was not a solution.
“We are now reaping the fruits of the fact that there wasn't an inclusive political, social response," Bishop Dowling said. He went on: “So we've got to find other ways, non-violent ways, inclusive ways."
Meanwhile Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope's secretary of state, told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that terrorism "did not provide licence to meet violence with violence” but, in the words of St John Paul II after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, “must be exercised with respect for moral and legal limits in the choice of ends and means”.
In addition, Parolin said, the international community must address the root causes of terrorism, which included social and economic inequality.
"Young people travelling abroad to join the ranks of terrorist organisations often come from poor immigrant families, disillusioned by what they feel as a situation of exclusion and by the lack of integration and values in certain societies. Together with the legal tools and resources to prevent citizens from becoming foreign terrorist fighters, Governments should engage with civil society to address the problems of communities most at risk of radicalisation and recruitment and to achieve their satisfactory social integration," he said.
People of faith have a "grave responsibility" to condemn those who used faith to justify violence, he added.
In the UK, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on Wednesday said he would recall Parliament, and MPs will vote on Friday on whether to join in US-led military action against IS. The Cabinet is meeting today to discuss plans for air strikes. Addressing the UN in New York today Mr Cameron, said that the UK was "ready to play its part".
Read online: The Tablet - News
Friday, 19 September 2014
|The Russian Army tries to force Eastern Catholics of Pratulin|
to abandon communion with the Apostolic See of Rome
The Patriarchate's anti-ecumenical agenda manifests itself in its attempts to place wedges, at the ecumenical table, between Catholics and Orthodox, between Western and Eastern Catholics, and to refuse to recognize Eastern Catholics at all, just as the Kremlin (true to a centuries-old imperialistic politik) adamantly refuses to recognise the Government of Ukraine, or even its existence as a nation.
Saturday, 13 September 2014
Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Beginning of the Indiction - Homily at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, London
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family of London, 1 September/14 September 2014
1 Corinthians 1.21-2.4 - Matthew 22. 2-14
At the height of the Christian Roman Empire, the great legal reformer Emperor Justinian, issued a decree (that is, an indiction) to ensure that everyone use a common dating system for contracts, official acts and legal documents. This had the remarkable consequence of moving the date of the imperial new year from its date from time immemorial - the Birthday of Augustus, pagan founder of the Empire, on September 23rd - to September 1st.
You will recall that St Luke describes how the Birth of Jesus took place in the context of another administrative decree from that very same Caesar Augustus, at a time which St Paul identified (Galatians 4.4-7) as “the fullness of time”, when there was peace throughout the known world of the Empire. So it is significant that, by the mid sixth century, the prestige of the founding Emperor was no longer common ground for the citizens of the Empire, or part of its identity. Instead, it is Jesus Christ himself. To this day, September 1st is the first day of the monthly Calendar for the Byzantine Churches of the Christian East. It remains programmatic for us all, because September is still the beginning of our academic and school years, and all of us feel the new working year really begins after the summer, with the burden of work to be done with the coming of the season of the harvest. This is reflected in the chants for today, which celebrate the bounty of God’s providence towards the people in the fruits of the creation: “Fashioner of all creation,” we sing in the Troparion for today, “Bless the crown of the year, O Lord, with Your goodness…”. Recently, September 1st has thus become for a large part of the Byzantine tradition a day of celebration and prayer for the environment, its careful stewardship and protection.
But today is also Sunday, a day when we think not only of this world, and its chronology and destiny, but of the Kingdom that is to come. In this Sunday’s Kontakion, in praising Christ our God, we go one further than this creation to the next: “With Yourself … You raised the dead and shattered the sting of death, and delivered Adam from the curse, O Lover of Mankind”. As St Paul reminds us, we set our affection on the things that are above, and not the things of the earth, because likewise we have died and our life is hid with Christ, in God (Colossians 3.2). In other words, we have to be whole people, leading holistic lives. Just as we are not complete persons if we live only with our material preoccupations, ignoring the human dimension that is spiritual, our soul; so we cannot live in the Resurrection of Christ, which became our defining characteristic when we were baptised in him, if we withdraw ourselves from the physical fact of the world and the body, as though they do not exist.
We have a clue to managing this seemingly impossible dual identity of ours - being citizens of the Kingdom of God, at the same time as active participants in the bountiful, beautiful and hopeful world he has created - in the words of today’s other observance, the feast of St Symeon the Stylite, of whom we have sung: “Seeking things above, you joined yourself to those on high; you made your pillar a fiery chariot, through which, O venerable one, you became a companion of the angels. With them, unceasingly implore Christ God on our behalf.” (Kontakion of St Symeon). Living in the company of the beings of heaven, he was also dwelling into advanced old age in the world, facing God at the same time as being seen by people, inspiring them and never forgetting to intercede for them.
We can put it another way. The great country, blues, and Gospel singer Johnny Cash captured an old saying, when he wrote a song about people who let their own light shine, without shining the light for others; who go to stand on the spiritual high ground for themselves, but don’t take the hands of those reaching to be lifted up there too. He sings, “You’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good” (The Rambler, 1977). This is precisely it: Christ wants it that, the more heavenly minded we are, the more earthly good we will be.
We can put it another way still. In today’s Gospel, we have the extraordinary tale of the guests who are too grand or ignorant to attend the wedding of their king’s son. The doors are thrown open for all to attend, not just the chosen few, even to the extent of gathering in the people who live on the streets. Then the king throws someone out of the banquet for not wearing the appropriate finery. At first sight, it looks unjust that the king rounds up last-minute guests in the middle of what they are doing, and then punishes them for coming unprepared. Many scholars explain this away by saying that St Matthew has just added together two separate stories with a wedding theme; but I think they are missing the point. For Jesus begins by telling a story with a popular theme, familiar to us from the Magnificat: the rich put down and sent empty away, while the humble and poor are exalted in their place – a typical “them-and-us” story. But then he gives it a twist to surprise us all out of our complacency and self-satisfaction, rich and poor, powerful and powerless alike. In the Epistle, St Paul explains what Jesus means: “God establishes you in the Anointed Christ, and anoints you by putting His seal on us, and giving us His Spirit in our hearts as a first instalment.” So there you have it: first, God the Father compels us to come into the wedding feast of His Son and seals our adoption as His own sons and daughters, co-inheritors with Christ of the whole Kingdom itself. Then the Spirit is bestowed in our hearts as the first instalment of our new way of living. But those who misuse or waste this first flow of grace will lose when it comes to the ensuing graces, whoever they are: “Many are called,” Jesus observes, “but few are chosen.”
What in us has become of this first instalment of grace? Has it simply got stuck in our hearts, or does it show in our minds in the way we decide things; does it show on the outside through the way we act? Where is the grace upon grace? Where are the signs of spiritual progress, after receiving not only the King’s invitation, but the honour of a new standing in His Kingdom? Why do we look and behave and think as before? In the case of that unchanged wedding guest, something showed the king that everything he had been given had made no difference, for there was no sign of new growth in grace beyond that “first instalment” from the Holy Spirit. Either he was living in the world, cutting himself off from the heaven that had been planted in his heart; or he was living on a personally fulfilled religious plane, with no sign to show for it in the world and for the world. The guest thrown out was not fit for the Kingdom, not because he had made no effort, but because he was enjoying heaven for himself, and living as though nothing had changed. He was not, as the Lord’s Prayer implores, seek the Kingdom to come “on earth, as it is in heaven”. He was not a whole person, living spiritually and holistically in the world. He was unable to be what the Christian must always be seen to be: a new creation in Christ, a different way of humanity.
So what is this difference to humanity that, for instance, an astonishing saint like St Symeon, or a new Church Year resolves us to seek and emulate? Well, first, St Matthew reports how, even when we fast and lament, we should not put on the act of sorrow and penitence for public consumption, but anoint ourselves with the oil of gladness (Matthew 6.17), just like at a wedding. Joy and confidence in Christ as the centre of all things, then, are the first signs to the world of the presence of God in our midst. Secondly, as we face the prospect of war and the vicious destruction of Christianity in the lands that cradled the Church from its birth, the only point of Christians is that we are people not of revenge and ancient hatreds, of self-pity and recrimination, but of persevering forbearance and inexhaustible forgiveness, people serving reconciliation and bringing healing, people of faith in Christ’s promises, hope in His ever coming Kingdom, and unconditional love for God and neighbour - and enemy.
These are the precepts of heaven for a new Church Year: the more heavenly minded we are, the more earthly good we will be in serving the coming of Christ’s Kingdom on earth as it is in
Thursday, 11 September 2014
Saturday, 30 August 2014
Thursday, 21 August 2014
То the World’s Religious and Political Leaders
To All People of Good Will
Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych
Primate of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church
Saturday, 16 August 2014
During the months of military confrontation, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has continually called upon ways to seek a peaceful resolution. In no way should this resolution be construed as a denial of the rights and obligations of citizens of Ukraine to defend their freedom and independence. The UGCC and representatives of other Churches and religious organizations have taken concrete measures in providing humanitarian assistance to all victims of aggression in Eastern Ukraine, regardless of religious affiliation and national identity.
We strongly condemn all acts of violence against civilians in Ukraine, including its clergy, no matter which denomination, religion or ethnic group they belong to. The All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations has called for an immediate cessation of violence and the disarmament of all illegally armed militia groups whose atrocities have claimed the lives of hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers, policemen, civilians, women and children.
2 The assertion that the Antiterrorist Operation only affects the Orthodox faithful of the Moscow Patriarchate is a dangerous one. Its purpose is to fan the fires of divisiveness and create the illusion that Ukrainian society at large is victimizing one denominational group. It is unacceptable and evil to place the rights of freedom and independence of the Ukrainian people into a denominational framework. This provokes new tensions and turmoil in Ukrainian society - this time in the area of interfaith relations. Today Ukraine needs religious men and women to nurture peace and not to provoke violence.
3 The Ukrainian military is not structured as a denominational entity. Therefore, chaplains of various denominations serve in the zone of the Antiterrorist Operation. They exercise their ministry in conformity with the regulations of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. These regulations and guidelines were created by an interfaith pastoral council, whose membership includes representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church [Moscow Patriarchate]. Chaplains are not permitted to interfere in the life of local religious communities. Accusations that chaplains of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church have committed acts of violence against members of other churches and religious groups are not true. We strongly reject such claims and accusations.
4 We call upon the Primates of all Christian Churches, religious and government leaders, and the international community to express their solidarity with the Ukrainian people during this difficult time. We also call upon all people of good will to honestly assess all acts of aggression against our country, regardless of how this aggression is disguised. Let us work together to stop bloodshed so that peace may reign in Ukraine, and that justice and good neighborly relations may exist between all countries and peoples of the modern world."
Protopresbyter Ihor Yatsiv
Office of Communications, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
(Translation by Father Myron Panchuk) see the original Ukrainian here
Sunday, 10 August 2014
Troparion of the Resurrection, Tone 8. You came down from on high, O Merciful One, and accepted three days of burial to free us from our sufferings. O Lord, our life and our resurrection, glory be to You.
1 Corinthians 3:9-17
It is difficult at the present time to think of the Church as being built, when daily news arrives of our ancient sanctuaries being destroyed, either as collateral damage in war, or as a direct act of intended destruction on the part of violent, jealous men, who hide behind religious zeal their true identity as bank robbers, as perverts that rape girls and disabled old ladies, and as psychopathic serial killers that are even now murdering our brothers and sisters in the Household of Faith, or condemning them to the searing heat of the desert without food, water or shelter. It looks like the Church is being destroyed in the lands where it first took root, Iraq - the cradle of civilisation, where different peoples (such as the Assyrians, Arabs, Turkics and Persians) and different faiths (such as Sunni and Shia Islam, Zoroastrianism, Assyrian and Syriac Christianity, Catholic and Orthodox) have lived in harmony side by side for centuries.
But somehow and somewhere in all this we are to see the work of the Lord who is faithful to his people and to all humanity, even when we are tested, as St Paul tells us, in the fire. The apostle’s words recalls to us the Lord’s own parable of the house built upon sand and the house built upon the rock. The point he is making is not about the relative strength of faith, but the strength of the grace that we rely on, as opposed to our own efforts. It almost goes without saying that the House of the Lord which is the Church of God in Iraq, led so nobly by the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon, Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, is a house whose foundations are the gold and silver and precious stones that really have been tried in the fire. The buildings and everything they have may have been taken away - as St Paul says “the builder will suffer loss”; and did not our Lord say “from those who have nothing even what they have will be taken away”? – but the grace of God has been shown to be the foundation not just of an ethnic or religious identity, but of the house of their faith.
O Lord, our life and our resurrection, glory be to You?
and the suffering of Christians is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you, Lord,
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.
Glory be to You forever.
Saturday, 2 August 2014
IRAQ Patriarch of Baghdad, Mosul Christians should be able to stay in Iraq, not forced into exile - Asia News
Patriarch of Baghdad, Mosul Christians should be able to stay in Iraq, not forced into exile
Mar Sako thanks France and Bahrain for the proposal to facilitate visas for Iraqi Christians, but calls for support for "a political solution" so the population is not forced to leave Iraq. Desperate need for emergency aid and shelters for refugees.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) - The families that have fled Mosul "must be able to stay in our homeland, Iraq". Facilitating their exile through special visas is not the real solution, rather a political effort is needed that will "allow us all to remain in this nation that we love and to live in safety, equality and dignity with everyone", says the Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, Raphael Louis Sako, in a message sent to AsiaNews, after the flight of about 500 thousand Muslims and Christians from Mosul, following the Islamic State's conquest of the city and its establishment of a Caliphate there under strict sharia.
In recent days, France and Bahrain reportedly stated they are willing to offer asylum to Christians from Mosul, facilitating visas for them.
The Patriarch thanked Paris and Sana'a "for their generous proposal", "it honors us and honors the countries that make it", but he stresses that "if we leave our homeland we will destroy the memory of our ancient history". Rather than a temporary, humanitarian solution to the emergency, a "political solution" is what is needed: "all components of the Iraqi nation and the international assembly needs to think about finding a lasting solution that respects everyone and can save our country from this chaos and barbarity. "
The patriarch - who yesterday returned from a visit to the families who have sought refuge in Kurdistan - says that "today, these displaced families have nothing left, the jihadists robbed them of everything and they are in a situation of insecurity, pain and dire need".
While respecting the personal decisions of each of refugees, Mar Sako says that "if France and other countries really want to help, [they should do so] encouraging these families to stay by sending them emergency aid to ease their pain and help the construction of housing in the cities where they can live in security".
He points out that on the other hand, the proposal to accommodate these families abroad, without knowing their number "is no simple thing, and certainly we must also think about the huge uprooting this entails with regard to the difference in language , culture, mentality and customs".
Source: IRAQ Patriarch of Baghdad, Mosul Christians should be able to stay in Iraq, not forced into exile - Asia News
|Saturday, August 2, 2014 11:28 am|
What does it mean for a Christian in fear of their life in Iraq, a Syrian Christian bombed out of home and church or a child whose whose family has been blown to bits in Gaza or somebody with the Ebola virus, to hear those words of Paul, ‘nothing can separate us from the love of Christ?’. Would they find comfort in a pain beyond words, in a loss we can only vaguely acknowledge.
This is where pious platitudes and sentimental religion collapse, this is the point where the Christ of salvation loses his clothes and church finery, moves out of a safe sacramental world we create and becomes the bloodied Christ of the cross. The one who cries ‘ father forgive, they know not what they do!”.This is the point where the raw love of God remains our hope!
We are all complicit in the savagery of this world, we in the West have it so easy, but that cannot last. If we follow the Lord the cross is ours to carry and transformation comes through bearing one another’s burdens. Jesus in the Gospel sees the crowd and takes pity on them, but before he celebrates a meal with them he is active in curing the sick. A message for us who have weekly Eucharist, that the beginning of our sacramental celebration lies with the care of real people, there the body of Christ is first encountered. The needs of the poor, hungry, homeless come before our need for sacramental celebration which connects with our active love.
Isaiah shows us God literally calling people from want and need to life, but that, on this earth has to be through us! The scriptures are not simply pages in a book or nice poetic readings, they are God’s voice calling us to respond now!
But back to my initial question, how do people who have had far more suffering than we ever will know, who in a true sense take on sufferings far more painful than the Christ on the cross, find that love of God?
As I grow older I notice more that in the tangled mess and problems of the world, there is one thread that never snaps, somehow deep in all of this is the presence of Christ alive, loving, suffering with them. The presence of that loving Christ is our constant loving care for these little ones!
Fr Robin Gibbons is an Eastern Rite Chaplain for the Melkite Greek Catholics in Britain.
Source: Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons - 3 August 2014 - Independent Catholic News
Friday, 1 August 2014
2. Russia worked on western Europe the same way they did with our own people. All radio and television programs, in whatever language, were pro-Russian. That's why the Maidan was something strange and fearful to them. They had no freedom and lived in fear. It will take a long time to teach them to be free...
3. We must weed out unworthy people from government, and there are very many...
4. We have 200 registered parties alone: lots of politicians but few national and civic leaders. And that is true for the rest of the world...
5. Moscow's aggression creates a similar situation to Hitler. The problem begins within the structure of Russia itself— it's an empire and Putin did not invent it, he is only fulfilling the role. The roots of this problem go back 400 years. All Russian leaders, from Peter to Stalin and now again, want to build an empire...
6. Communism/Bolshevism was just a continuation of this empire...
7. We have a a very influential body, the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches, which brings together 19 of the largest religious groups, Christians, Jews, Moslems, and all want a united Ukraine. But now, brothers, it's time to preach to the people: tell them that they must be honest, not to steal, not be lazy, not wait for someone else to do your share.Let's get to work! The Church, left to itself, forms responsible people and becomes a danger to any kind of criminal, bandit or dictator...
8. Honor thy father and mother also applies to your father/motherland. This is a healthy patriotism. Unfortunately, the churches found themselves caught between political patrons, including Stalin...
9. The state must support all churches and not interfere in their internal matters. All our former presidents wanted to have at least one church at their side, just like Russia does with Patriarch Kiril.. The Ukrainian Council of churches was also a child of Kuchma who, through his representative, tried to dictate to us what we should do. This quickly ended...
10. Saint John Paul II called the situation in Ukraine an ecumenical laboratory. Despite the number of religious groups, we do not fight with one another. Alhough we are not united, we support one another...
At last, this beautiful and moving film of the faithfulness and suffering of a Russian Orthodox priest and his people during both Nazi occupation and the persecution of the Communists, now on You Tube with English subtitles.
▶ The priest-Pop.(English Subtitles). - YouTube
In Ukraine, the church sets the record straight: Fr Andriy Zelinskyy SJ: Peace, human rights & nothing but love for Russians - YouTube
Source: Catholic News Service ▶ In Ukraine, the church fights back - YouTube
"The current situation is increasingly reminiscent of that in the run-up to the First World War. News programs have turned into frontline news summaries, each day we hear about more and more victims. Yes, so far the conflicts have been on a local scale but whole countries and whole military-political blocs are getting sucked into the militaristic rhetoric," the metropolitan wrote in an article published in the weekly supplement to the Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russian Newspaper - Week) newspaper on Thursday.
Polarization has reached a critical point, the author said. "Various countries create and maintain, through mass media, an image of the enemy. And that is one step away from a declaration of global war," the article said. [Cf. His Eminence's own repeated comments to demonise the new Ukrainian government as fascist and anti-Russian, and to accuse the Catholic Church as its mover and accomplice. Ed. SSJC]
The hierarch thinks the main lesson of both world wars consists in that they had no winners. "The one hundred years since the beginning of the First World War is unlikely to prompt an ardent international response. Some places will build monuments to the heroes, others will clean up the memorial cemeteries, and festivities will be held elsewhere. But will the war anniversary become a reason for rethinking its outcomes on the global scale? Will the outcomes of the two world wars be a lesson to global leaders on whom it depends whether the third one will begin," the hierarch asked.
According to Metropolitan Hilarion, today the parties to the standoff have already used the Malaysian plane crash in Ukraine for mutual accusations, "loud political statements and calls for reprisals and retribution." [Metropolitan Hilarion has himself blamed the Ukrainian government for causing the problems that prevented international investigators to access the crash site. Ed. SSJC]
"The same as 100 years ago when a shooting by a Serbian terrorist of the Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne led to war. It looked as if the leading global powers had been waiting for this shot to start the global slaughter," the article said.