27th Sunday after Pentecost

gathering-the-harvest-bortoloniMeditation by Very Rev. Dr. David Petras
Ephesians 6:10-17; Luke 12:16-21

“But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God. (Luke 12:20-21)” This is a message of “good news” that Jesus, our Lord and God, shares with us often. In the gospel of St. Matthew, he tells us, “But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. (Matthew 6:20)” And: “Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.(Matthew 6:28)” This is certainly a timely message for this Thanksgiving week, when we express gratitude to God for all the blessings we have received. Sometimes we think only of the material goods we own. I always remember one of my parishioners in the day I was active in a parish, he always gleefully said, “Here comes Turkey Day,” forgetting that it is the day of returning gratitude to God. We should also give thanks for our family, our friends and our neighbors, without whom we would have no human life. But even more than this, we give thanks for God’s gifts, for the “heavenly bread” of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and for the gifts of the Spirit, many of which are mentioned in today’s Epistle: truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the gift of the Spirit himself. Yes, we give thanks in the midst of “the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. (Ephesians 6:12)” But it is God who will bring us to salvation, and for this is our eucharistia, our thanksgiving.

St. Josaphat

st-josaphatSt. Josaphat (1580-1623) was born to a devout religious family of Ruthenian ancestry in what is now Ukraine, and was baptized in the Eastern Orthodox Church. He devoted his virginity to the Virgin Mary and grew in his reverence for ancient liturgy. During a revival of Eastern Catholic monastic life he became a monk in the Order of St. Basil, and was ordained to Holy Orders in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in 1609. He was noted for his life of asceticism, holiness, and virtue which led to his appointment as Archbishop of Polotsk in what is today Belarus. During his lifetime there was much sociopolitical and ecclesiastical rivalry between the Catholics and Orthodox and the Latin and Byzantine rites, especially in the wake of the 1596 Union of Brest which saw the Ruthenian Church break with Orthodox and place itself under the authority of the Holy See. St. Josaphat was passionate about working for the reunification with Rome and won many heretics and schismatics back to communion with the Holy See. However, he was also strongly opposed to the Latinization of his people. This combination of views drew ire from both Catholic and Orthodox clergy. His diocese was contested by the Orthodox, and a rival Orthodox bishop was set up to oppose him, causing riots. During one uprising Josaphat tried to calm the tensions and work for reunification and peace, but his enemies plotted to kill him. A mob of Orthodox Christians entered Josaphat’s home, stabbed and axed his body and threw it into a river. His body was seen glowing in the water and was recovered, and after his martyrdom many miracles were attributed to his intercession. Josaphat’s sacrifice became a blessing as regret and sorrow over his death converted many hearts toward reunification with Rome. In 1867 Josaphat became the first saint of the Eastern Church to be formally canonized by Rome. His feast day is November 12.

26th Sunday after Pentecost

good-samaritanMeditation by the Very Rev. Dr. David M. Petras
Ephesians 5:9-19; Luke 10:25-37

This gospel must be read very carefully. Jesus tells a story to make a point. It is just a story, it didn’t happen. However, we get the point. The scholar of the law knew the basic message of faith. We must love God and we must love our neighbor as ourselves. Then he asked a question to justify himself. He saw a loophole in Jesus’ teaching. Yes, love your neighbor, but who is your neighbor? That is the problem. Jesus then tells a story in which those you would expect naturally to give help to the beaten man, the priest and the levite (in early Christianity, another name for deacon, one who gives service) pass the poor man without a thought. Who gives help? It is the “other,” the heretics to the Jews, the hated Samaritan. He, the “other,” shows mercy. Whether this story happened or not is irrelevant. Jesus tells us that our neighbor may be someone we do not expect. Therefore, we cannot “justify ourselves” by prejudice and racism, by hating the other. This gospel preaches itself. When I was a young priest, the “other” in our church were blacks and Jews. Today they are immigrants and Moslems. And we, like the “scholar of the law,” are still racists. Racism is the ugly face of our church today. It blocks us from being “true-believing Christians.” The scholar got the point, but he still couldn’t say the hated word, “Samaritan,” but only “the one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus responds “Go and do likewise,” that is, do not hate the other, but always show mercy and care for the other. God’s word is clear, but do we have eyes that do not see, and ears that do not hear? “Awake, O sleeper and rise from the dead (the death of the sin of racism), and Christ will give you light. (Ephesians 5:14)”

“Christ the Merciful”, new book by Br Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette

christ-the-mercifulBrother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette explores the absolute centrality of Christ in the prayer life of any Christian. The end result is a comprehensive confession of his faith and testimony to the many “names of Christ” that cross through historical, monastic, and mystical traditions. Keeping true to the hope for a unified Church, Christ the Merciful incorporates both Western and Eastern Orthodox sources.

Chapters situating Christ in context of his life in Palestine, his role as a son, friend, and family member, and his place in the living history of the church all help to create a full, well-rounded portrait of his divine and human lives. By viewing Christ through these various facets, the book helps readers enrich their relationship to the mystery of God, adding contour to their spiritual journey.

Brother Victor-Antoine makes difficult concepts clear in a straightforward manner, informed by years of Benedictine monastic practice.

Richly grounded in Scripture, in the Fathers of the Church, in both Eastern and Western traditions and, above all, in the fruit of his own prayer, Brother d’Avila-Latourrette’s meditations on the many names of Jesus offers us the opportunity to meet Christ anew every day. Just like Andrew and John, or Philip, Zacchaeus, Bartimeus or the centurion, Jesus’ entry point into each of our lives is unique. He has called each of us by name, and with the help from Brother Victor-Antoine, we are reminded of how much we long to hear Jesus and need to hear him speaking to us in all aspects of our life and faith.
 
— Father Tim S. Hickey, contributor to Magnificat, priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford, former editor of Columbia magazine (Knights of Columbus).

St Michael the Archangel and all holy angels

st-michaelToday, is the feast day of St Michael the Archangel, and all holy angels according to the Byzantine liturgical calendar (as a point of comparison, the Latin Church in her Novus Ordo liturgy, honors St Michael on September 29).

“Angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, principalities, virtues, powers, and the many-eyed cherubim praise you. You are surrounded by the six-winged seraphim; two wings cover their face, two their feet, and with two they fly, and they call one to another with never-ending and never-silent hymns of praise.” [Liturgy of St. Basil the Great]

“Princes of the heavenly hosts, we, though unworthy, beg you to encircle us through your prayers under the shelter of the wings of your spiritual glory. Guard us as we come to you and sincerely cry: Deliver us from dangers, O princes of the powers on high!”

Catechesis

The Church’s teaching on St. Michael is that he is the leader of the good angels, thus holding the title of “Archangel.” Angels are non-corporeal beings created by God. As spirits without bodies they’re invisible to the human eye. By definition, angels bring to us messages because this is one of the ways God communicates with us. Additionally, the “messengers of God” are the guardians of human persons, and their work is to be constantly singing the praise to God.

One commentator said, “God out of love created the angels and wanted to test them if they too really loved Him. God gave them a command to follow. The good angels readily and gladly obeyed. But some refused to obey and were cast out of heaven to live no longer with Him. Suffering and torment were theirs. The bad angels, also called ‘evil spirits, demons, or devils,’ tempt us, the children of God, to do evil – not listen to God nor to do the good God calls us to do.”

Freedom or Death, documentary scheduled for November 13

The film, “”Freedom or Death: A Revolution of Dignity,” documents the revolutionary events of last year that took place in Kyiv, Ukraine. Footage includes the events on the Maidan and the continuing warfare in Eastern Ukraine.

damian-kolodity“Freedom or Death” was produced and directed by Damian Kolodiy, an Ukrainian-American filmmaker, who is a graduate of the Film program at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. Kolodiy’s vocation is a spent as writer and independent filmmaker based in New York City, where he was the Program Director of Kinofest NYC, a film festival showcasing contemporary Ukrainian film in New York. (www.KinofestNYC.com) from 2010-2015. Kolodiy’s first feature documentary was on Ukraine’s Orange Revolution titled “The Orange Chronicles”. He freelances as a cameraman and editer, and much of his work has been documentaries of a political nature.

You may watch a trailer here.

The parish and the Ukrainian Heritage Center are happy to host a viewing of “Freedom or Death” on Sunday, November 13th following the 10:30 a.m. Divine Liturgy in the hall.

Advent message from the US Ukrainian Catholic Bishops

The Ukrainian Catholic bishops of the United States offer the following message for Advent (Pylypivka). It is signed, as you will note below, by all bishops. On the feast day of St. Philip Byzantine Christians begin their preparation for the Birth of Jesus. This 40-day preparation period is before the Christmas / Theophany season. the Philip fast begins at sundown on November 14th (when the Church begins a new day) and concludes at Christmas. History tells us that the fast was introduced to prepare us for a more worthy celebration of the great and holy day of the Birth of Jesus. The regulations for the fast were far more lenient than the Great Fast before Pascha. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are days of strict fasting without meat, dairy products or oil (in Slavic countries).  On Sundays fish was permitted. The Phillipian fast prepares us to receive the public ministry of Christ announced at Theophany.

What follows is a good message to begin our preparation for the Nativity of the Lord.

philipWith the commemoration of St. Philip on November 14th (Gregorian Calendar) or November 27th (Julian Calendar), we begin the customary fast or preparation for the Feast of the Nativity of the Birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It coincides with the hectic season of pre-Christmas preparations, shopping for gifts for others, and invitations to participate in many social festive events. It truly becomes a challenge for us to withdraw ourselves from our earthly appetites, as we attempt to facilitate more time for prayer and meditation. When we become overwhelmed by such preparations, many of us step back and wonder whether all these things really add to our happiness and our feelings of contentment. We reflect on why we are here in this world.

Pope Francis, in the Apostolic Exhortation, “Joy of the Gospel”, says that you and I are “a mission on this earth”, and that is the reason why you and I are here in this world. We are called to live as missionaries who feel genuine happiness in seeking the good of others, in desiring their happiness. It is who we are. The Holy Father calls us to draw nearer to others and to seek their welfare. In turn, our hearts are opened wide to the Lord’s greatest and most beautiful gifts. “Whenever our eyes are opened to acknowledge the other, we grow in the light of faith and knowledge of God”.