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.
Next Liturgy: Saturday 10th June, 4pm

SSJC Committee Open Meeting: Monday 19th June, Cathedral of the Holy Family. 6-15 Liturgy, Talk at 7-15, followed by meeting.

To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.
To purchase the Divine Praises, the Divine Office of the Byzantine-Slav rite (in English), order from the Eparchy of Parma here.

The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email johnchrysostom@btinternet.com for details.













Wednesday, 30 March 2011

"The Church is Young" The Election of Sviatoslav Shevchuk


“The Church is Young”
Pope Benedict XVI (2005)
The announcement that the Synod of Ukrainian Hierarchs had elected their youngest member, 40-year old Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, as Major-Archbishop (Patriarch) hit world news like a lightening bolt. Yet every Ukrainian Greek-Catholic felt this jolt to be a powerful sign from God and more than one of his electors remarked: “we felt the hand of the Holy Spirit” in the selection. His Beatitude Sviatoslav's life journey is a powerful reflection on God's hand upon the Church which Shevchuk has become Father and Head.
Sviatoslav Shevchuk was born in 1970 to pious Greek-Catholic parents in the Western-Ukrainian city of Stryj. At the time, his homeland was part of the Soviet Union and and his family were forced to practice their faith in secret. Pope Pius XII had referred to the underground Church in communist countries as the Church of Silence. When Gorbachov began his glasnost reform, the Church of Silence rose up to loudly proclaim the Faith. After 45 years of state oppression, the Greek-Catholic Church came forth from its catacomb existance and took its rightful place in the public life of Ukraine. During a key period of his youth, Shevchuk experienced both the anxieties and the joys of his fellow Ukrainians and fellow Catholics. He was among the generation of Ukraine’s sons and daughters who entered adulthood in religious freedom in a free country. Recently he remarked that, as one of the last generation to serve the Soviet Army (and the only Major-Archbishop to have done so), his Catholic Faith served as the foundation of his human dignity and that of his people.
Shevchuk’s personality speaks volumes: it reflects youth combined with mature virtue; friendliness and even familiarity with profound gravitas; unfeigned humility coupled with a clear word and a strong will. He is a scholar who naturally speaks the language of ordinary people. He is completely at ease on a sportsfield or in the great pomp of solemn pontifical rites. He also posseses a healthy Ukrainian patriotism, tempered by an understanding of his nation’s role among her neighbours and his Church’s role in the Universal Church and vis-à-vis other Churches. Such awareness comes not only from having lived and studied in East and West (and one could add North and South) but also from a profound contemplation of a single, unified Christian theology which has diverse modes of expression in East and West. If authentically Christian, these must always be complementary; never exclusive of one another. Shevchuk is a man of two ecclesial lungs, combining tradition and modernity, a man of and for today.
Ukraine’s ancestor, the ancient state of Kyivan-Rus’, stood poised between East and West: possessing the spirituality of Eastern Christianity but open to influence from Western European culture, acting as a bridge between the two sides. Svaitoslav Shevchuk has become the successor of the ancient primates of Rus’, the Metropolitans of Kyiv, who re-entered into complete ecclesial communion with the Roman Pontiff and the Church Universal in 1439 at Florence and 1596 at Brest. But a Catholic metropolitan had not been enthroned in Kyiv since the eighteenth century, when another child of ancient Rus’, the Russian Empire, absorbed the Ukrainian lands and eliminated any trace of Eastern Catholicsm. For this reason, in 1807, the Roman Pontiff transferred the Catholic primatial see of Rus' from Kyiv to Lviv, where it remained until 2004. What is now Western Ukraine became a province of the Austrian Empire. Austria gave the Uniate Church (an Orthodox Church in full union with Rome) a new name, Greek-Catholic. With national awakening in the nineeenth century, the old terms Rus’ or Ruthenia gave way to the geographical description Ukraine, so the Ruthenian nation could distinguish itself from Russia.
In the first half of the twentieth century, Shevchuk’s iconic predecessor, Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky, led the Greek-Catholic Church to rediscover its ancient Byzantine identity, in order to take its rightful place among the Oriental Churches. Sheptytsky’s sucessor, Josyf Slipyj, was a confessor of the Catholic Faith, enduring eighteen years of emprisonment under the atheistic Soviet regime. Upon his relase in 1963, Pope Paul VI raised the See of Lviv from that status of metropolia to that of a Major-Archbishopric, in recognition of the autonomous character the Roman Pontiffs had always accorded to the Ruthenian-Ukrainian primates. For this reason, Sheptytsky had begun to discuss the idea of a patriarchate and Slipyj, created cardinal in 1965, brought the discussion to the floor of the Second Vatican Council. In 1975, he began to use the title of patriarch, thereby hoping that the Roman Pontiff would deem the largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches to be fully mature. Pope John-Paul II took the first step by granting synodal, semi-patriarchal structure to the Ukrainian Catholic Church in 1980. The second step was the normalization of the Church in its home territory. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Slipyj’s successor, Cardinal Lubachivsky, was free to return to his see of Lviv and begin the reconstruction of the Church in Ukraine. The next Major-Archbishop, Cardinal Husar, established the patriarchal curia and permanent Synod. In 2004 Pope John Paul reversed the decision his predecessor Pius VII by returning the primatial see from Lviv to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. Husar thus became the first Major-Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych, Metropolitan of Kyiv and Bishop of Kamianets Podilsk (the latter a courtesy title historically held by Ukrainain primates).
The enthronement ceremony of Major-Archbishop Shevchuk represented another step in the maturing process of his Church. He was the first Catholic primate to be enthroned in Kyiv since the Russian Empire suppressed the Uniate Kyivan Metropolitante. The ritual itself combined elements ancient and new. Ancient Byzantine ritual was celebrated in the modern Ukrainiann language. The still-incomplete sobor (arch-cathedral) displayed elements of contemporary architecture but was decorated with traditional furnishings and traditional Byzantine vestments were worn by the clergy. Three periods of Ukrainian iconography were present: traditional Byzantine, eighteenth century and twentieth century styles. The musical arrangements also represented a section of compositions by Ukraine's prominent composers of sacred choral music. Historically, Latin-Rite bishops have always been present at such enthronements. This ceremony made another innovation with the presence of the heads of Eastern Catholic Churches, such as the Melchite Patriarch Gregorios III of Antioch and Slovak Metropolitan Jan Babjak. Of profund ecumenical significance was the presence of prelates representing all three Orthodox Churches in Ukraine, each of which received and returned the sign of peace from Patriarch Sviatoslav. Important Ukrainian notables were also present in the church and at the reception, including former President Viktor Yuschenko and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Patriarch Sviatoslav has announced an ecumenical strategy, that his Church will be a help, not a hindrance to unity. At the same time, he emphasized that it is only just that the Church which suffered for unity not be be treated simply as an ecumentical object. His Beatitude begins his mandate by manifesting the most important sign of unity. On 30 March, together with the Metropolitans and bishops of his Permanent Synod, he was received in audience by Pope Benedict XVI. A private audience took place the following day. These are historic meetings between the Father and Head of a Particular Church with the Father and Head of the Universal Church. While such meetings are a sign of the maturity of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, they also bear witness to two essential characteristics of this Particular Church: unity and martyrdom. And indeed, at the first papal audience, Pope Benedict called this to mind, that Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church has and must always be an icon of unity with Peter (cum et sub Petro) even unto the shedding of blood.


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