Blessed Basil Hopko, martyr

Basil or Vasiľ Hopko (April 24, 1904—July 23, 1976) was a priest and bishop of the Slovak Greek Catholic Church. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II for his martyrdom under Communist occupation.

Hopko was born in the Rusyn village of Hrabské, Austria-Hungary in county Šariš, presently in eastern Slovakia. His parents, Basil and Anna née Petrenko, were landless peasants. While Hopko was still an infant, his father was struck by lightning and died. His mother left him in care of her father, while she emigrated to the United States in search of work. When Hopko was 7 he was sent to live with his uncle Demeter Petrenko, a Greek Catholic priest.

He attended the Evangelical gymnasium in Prešov, then Czechoslovakia, graduating with honors in 1923. Hopko studied at the Eparchial Seminary in Prešov. He had dreams of joining his mother in America, and of pursuing his priestly vocation there, but the cost of recurring health problems left him unable to afford to travel. He later wrote that when he finally decided to stay and to serve in his homeland, he was suddenly cured, and realized he had been given a sign about his calling. He was ordained a Greek Catholic priest on 3 February 1929.

He served as a parish priest (1929–1936) at the Greek Catholic parish in Prague, the Czechoslovak capital, where he was known for his focus on the poor, the unemployed, and students. His mother returned from the US after 22 years and rejoined her son in Prague, becoming his housekeeper at the parish rectory.

In 1936 he returned to teach in Prešov’s Eparchial Seminary, and was awarded the title of monsignor. He had already begun graduate studies at Charles University while in Prague, and he completed his Doctor of Theology in 1940 at Comenius University in Bratislava. In Prešov he headed the Eparchy’s publishing division, where he edited a monthly periodical.

After World War II, a growing Soviet Bolshevik influence caused Bishop Pavol Peter Gojdič of Prešov to ask the Vatican for an Auxiliary Bishop to help defend the Greek Catholic Church. Hopko was appointed to the post on 11 May 1947. The Communist take-over of Czechoslovakia wreaked havoc on the Greek Catholic Church. In 1950 it was officially abolished, and its assets were turned over to the Russian Orthodox Church. Gojdič was arrested and was imprisoned for life. Hopko was arrested on 28 April 1950 and kept on starvation rations and tortured for weeks. Eventually he was tried and sentenced to 15 years for the “subversive activity” of staying loyal to Rome. He was repeatedly transferred from prison to prison. His health, physical and emotional, failed, and in 1964 he was transferred to an old age home. He never recovered his health.

St Mary Magdalen

Today is the feast of St. Mary Magdalen

St. Mary Magdalen, Equal to the Apostles, Apostle to the Apostles, pray unto God for us! Happy feast to all our friends who have the name Mary, Maria, Magdalen!

Troparion — Tone 1

By keeping His commandments and laws, holy Mary Magdalene, / you followed Christ, Who for our sake was born of the Virgin, / and in celebrating your most holy memory today, / we receive forgiveness of sins by your prayers.

Kontakion — Tone 4

Podoben: “Today the Virgin…” / Standing before the Cross of the Savior, / suffering with the Mother of the Lord, / the most glorious Mary Magdalene / offered praise with tears. / She cried out: “What is this strange wonder? / He Who holds the whole creation in His hand chooses to suffer. / Glory to Your power, O Lord.”

Kontakion — Tone 3

Standing before the Cross of the Savior, / Suffering with the Mother of the Lord, / The most glorious Mary Magdalene offered praise with tears. / She cried out: What is this strange wonder? / He who holds the whole creation in His hand chooses to suffer: / Glory, O Lord to Your power!

Icon by Fr. Zinon

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Read: 1 Corinthians 3:9-17; Matthew 14:22-34

Today Jesus walks on water to come to the salvation of his followers. As bread in last Sunday’s gospel symbolized the Body of the Lord, so the waters symbolize the waters of baptism. Baptism, indeed, is dangerous, it brings death to the sin which resides in us. St. Paul teaches us: “Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).

The water in today’s gospel remind us how dangerous water can be, it can drown us and extinguish our lives. The waters of baptism, however, destroy sin. Jesus is the one who comes to us over the water. We see that through him the waters of baptism brings life. Though Peter loses his confidence, Jesus pulls him up from destruction. The Lord thereby shows us the path to a higher calling. Just as walking upon water is above human power, so too the grace of God lifts us above our natural calling that we might become one with God in the new calling of deification.

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras

The Holy and Great Prophet Elijah

Today the Byzantine Church honors the memory of The Holy Great Prophet Elijah.

The Holy Great Prophet Elijah was one of the most important saintly figures for the Slav Peoples. In many cases, the peasant people lived in poverty and need from day to day. Elijah gave them hope, for he supplied for the needs of the widow of Zarephath in the time of drought:

“For the Lord, the God of Israel, says: The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.” (1 Kings 17:14) The farmers depended on the weather for the health of their crops, and very often for their very lives, and it was the Great-Prophet Elijah who was able to call down rain from heaven. Moreover, he was the hope of the future, having ascended into heaven in a fiery chariot, he was awaited as the forerunner of Christ in his second coming. He is for us, a model and rule of faith in God and in Jesus, his Messiah.

ELIJAH THE MAN OF ZEAL – he called down fire from heaven to consume our lawful sacrifice and to destroy the false priests of Baal. Elijah cried out to the Lord: ““I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant. They have destroyed your altars and murdered your prophets by the sword. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.” 1 Kings 19:10 and 14) Therefore, the unfaithful king called Elijah “the disturber of Israel”(1 Kings 18:17) We pray that Elijah will disturb us, arouse us to faith, and strengthen our zeal for the Lord.

ELIJAH THE GIVER OF LIFE – When the widow of Zarephath lost her son, Elijah restored him to life. “Then he stretched himself out upon the child three times and he called out to the Lord: “Lord, my God, let the life breath return to the body of this child.” The Lord heard the prayer of Elijah; the life breath returned to the child’s body and he lived.” (1 Kings 17:21-22)

ELIJAH THE MAN OF GOD – On Mount Horeb, Elijah stood in the presence of God. He experienced the glory of God, not in the storm or the fire or the earthquake, but in the soft, gentle breeze. (1 Kings 19:11-12) We pray that there might be enough peace in our lives that we can hear God’s voice and not drown it out with the noise of our pride and unrest.

Sunday of the Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils

In addition to the observance of the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, the Church remembers the Father of the First 6 Ecumenical Councils. Moreover, the Church also liturgically recalls the memory of the Great Holy Prince, and Equal to the Apostles, Saint Vladimir.

Today we celebrate the memory of the church teachers and pastors who in six councils held over three plus centuries (325-680) defined for us and for our faith who Jesus our Lord is. The central affirmation was in the Council of Chalcedon, whose fathers professed: “we all with one voice teach the confession of one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, of a rational soul and a body; of one essence with the Father as regards his divinity, and the same of one essence with us as regards his humanity; like us in all respects except for sin; begotten before the ages from the Father as regards his divinity, and in the last days, for us and for our salvation, the same born of Mary, the virgin God-bearer, as regards his humanity.” Even though the Oriental Orthodox Churches did not accept this council for political and semantic reasons, there is no doubt that they believe that our Lord is truly God and truly a human being, because this is essential for our faith. This feast reminds us that we are through faith truly united with God, who transforms us and restores the divine likeness. 

St. Maximus the Confessor especially emphasizes this in his theology, in many places, as in his Ambigua 4,8: “For there is nothing more unified than He, who is truly one, and apart from Him there is nothing [1045A] more completely unifying or preserving of what is properly His own. Thus, even when He suffered, He was truly God, and when He worked miracles the same one was truly man, for He was the true hypostasis of true natures united in an ineffable union. Acting in both of these natures in a manner suitable and consistent with each, He was shown forth as one truly preserving them unconfused, while, at the same time, preserving Himself without change, insofar as He remained impassible by nature and passible, immortal and mortal, visible to the eyes and known by the intellect, as God by nature and man by nature.” 

This is the real value of dogma, it tells us of the possibilities we have as human beings. It guides us to our full human nature, and perfection as commanded by Christ, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)” It is the height of pride to think that we can reach our full potential without God, who alone creates, redeems and perfects our human nature.

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Read: 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 14:14-22

At the end of the reading of St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians today, St. Paul says, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” We are asked to look toward the Holy Cross as the center of our Christian life. In the section of 1 Corinthians immediately the Sunday reading, St. Paul says, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” 

The Christian faith is a paradox that finds strength in weakness, life in death and wisdom in foolishness. No wonder St. Paul observes today, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.” But what does the cross mean for our faith? Obviously, almost none of us will have to die as Christ did, nailed to a cross, though it is possible that some of us will have to surrender our lives for faith in Jesus. The gospel helps us to understand this. To carry the cross, we must put Jesus first in everything, as our Lord and Savior. It is he who feeds us with the bread of life in the desert of our lives. The multiplication of the loaves is a sign of the eucharist, of Christ giving himself to us, so that we might live in him and him alone. To accept the cross does not mean gratuitous suffering, but the will to live in Christ above all, to be so confirmed in faith that we would lay down our lives for him. 

The power of the cross, therefore, is not in human eloquence but in the reality of a soul alive in Christ, as St. Paul again proclaimed, “For through the law I died to the law, that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me. (Galatians 2:19-20)” It means, as in today Gospel, imitating the Lord, who “saw the vast crowd, [and] his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.” We, too, must love and care for each other, if not healing one another in body, than in spirit.

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Read: Romans 15:1-7; Matthew 9:27-35

The Gospel for this Sunday can be summarized: Jesus went about doing good, healing the sick and revealing God’s love for all. St. Paul tells us the Jesus did this out of his goodness, not to please himself, not to glorify himself. From love for us, he took insults upon us upon himself. St. Paul concludes, “Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7). In this way, we can heal one another’s spirit. Today’s epistle and gospel, then, tell us what love for one another really is. There is a condition, though, we must be open to God’s love. What does Jesus ask the blind men? “Do you believe I can do this?” If they believed they could be healed, then they also believed they needed healing, unlike the hypocritical Pharisees, to whom Jesus says, ““If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains” (John 9:41). They, in bitterness and unfaithfulness, hurl the insult at Jesus, “He drives out demons by the prince of demons” (Matthew 9:34).

We are blind to the image of God in the other when we “demonize” them, and in reality, makes ourselves into demons. We should, instead, heal one another and not condemn.

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras

Parish announcements this week

Christ is in our midst!

WELCOME NEW PARISHIONERS! New parishioners are always welcomed in our parish. If someone wants to register with our parish please contact Father Iura Godenciuc at 203-865-0388 or our financial secretary Natalia Chermak.

VIGIL LIGHT: This week vigil light is offered to the glory of God by Christopher Komondy in memory of the deceased members of his family.

AFTER DIVINE LITURGY: Dear parishioners and guests, after each Divine Liturgy, coffee and hard rolls are available in the church hall.

SPECIAL SHARE IN THE EUCHARIST: You are invited to offer a donation for a week, month, or year the bread and wine that will become the Body and Blood of our Lord. The requested donation for one week is $20.00. Donors/Intentions will be listed. Mary’s lamp also available for offering. $10.00 a week.

We have frozen pyrohy for sale while supplies last. More information can be read here: http://stmichaelukrainian.org/pierogies/

KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS: The Knights of Columbus Blessed Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Ukrainian Council will hold its next regular meeting TOMORROW, Monday, July 9, at 7:00 p.m. in the church hall. All men of the parish are invited to attend.

St. Gianna Center needs your help! The Center which assists at-risk pregnant women need diapers sized 3, 4, 5. Your donation would be greatly appreciated. A box is left at the front door of the church.

PARISH HALL BAZAAR: The Knights of Columbus will sponsoring a Parish Bazaar/tag sale scheduled for the weekend of August 25-26. This two-day event will enable parishioners to sell off their un-needed, surplus belongings. Parishioners have several choices as how to do this. 1) Rent a table for the weekend for $20.00, sell whatever you want for what you want. 2) Donate the items. The Knights of Columbus members will sell the items. Larger items will be considered for consignment. The Knight of Columbus will run the kitchen and sell food. A simple lunch menu will be provided. Reservations for the table rental can be made by placing a reservation note into the collection basket at Divine Liturgy. Checks should be made out to the Knights of Columbus. Please address any questions to Andy Bamber.  

STAMFORD CHARITIES APPEAL
In the church vestibule are arranged the forms for the Diocesan Charitable Fund. The forms are designed for each family of our parish. Attached to the form is an envelope into which you can place your contribution. The form along with your contribution, we ask you enclose in the envelope and place it in the collection basket during church services. Please make check payable to the Diocese of Stamford. Please DO NOT MAIL this form to the Chancery Office. We sincerely ask all parishioners to make generous contributions. Thank you for your generosity and may God reward you!

Divine Liturgy for the coming week

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Sunday, 7/8 —7th Sunday after Pentecost, The Holy Great Martyr Procopius
9:00 a.m. Special Intention
10:30 a.m. For the people of the parish

Epistle: Romans 15: 1-7
Gospel: Matthew 9:27-35, Tone 6

Monday, 7/9 —The Holy Priest-Martyr Pancratius, Bishop of Tauromenia

Tuesday, 7/10 —Our Venerable Father Anthony of the Monastery of the Caves in Kyiv

Wednesday, 7/11 —Repose of Blessed Olga (Olha), Princess of Kyiv, named Helen in Baptism
8:00 a.m. +Ivan Sowa (Pan.) requested by Bohdan Sowa

Thursday, 7/12 —The Holy Martyrs Proclus and Hilary
9:00 a.m. God’s blessing and health for Natalie and Liubomyr Chermak

Friday, 7/13 —Synaxis of the Holy Archangel Gabriel

Saturday, 7/14 —The Holy Apostle Aquila

Sunday, 7/15 —8th Sunday after Pentecost, Commemoration of the Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils; The Holy Grand Prince Vladimir (Volodymyr), Equal To The Apostles, named Basil in Baptism
9:00 a.m.  +Michael and Anna Lipcan requested by Barbara and Patrick Bagley
10:30 a.m. For people of the parish

Epistle: Corinthians 1:10-18
Gospel: Matthew 14:14-22, Tone 7