Restoring a tradition of Social days

One of the resolutions of the 2016 Synod of Bishops of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) which met September 04-11, 2016, in Lviv-Brukhovychi, is the following:

In order to evoke an interest to the social ministering among faithful of UGCC and behave a virtue of sacrifice and mercy, to announce in UGCC:

  • Sunday of a Prodigal Son – Day of the extreme care for prisoners; Sunday of Meatfare – Day of Social service and charity;
  • Restoring a tradition of Social days initiated by righteous Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky;
  • To organize days between Sundays, mentioned as previous points as Social days and be involved in intellectual and charitable activities at the parishes.

TODAY is Forgiveness Sunday; Lent begins tomorrow

Lady LentToday, the Church calls this Sunday “Forgiveness Sunday” and you may also know it as Cheesefare Sunday. The Byzantine Church uses the image of Lady Lent to illustrate (especially to children) the meaning of Lent in an accessible way.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

The three pillars of the Great Fast are fasting, prayer and almsgiving. In the Great Fast, the idea is to increase one’s prayer, perhaps adding to morning and evening prayer, prayer at noon. Feeding the mind/soul is needed: book will be chosen for special spritual reading?

Likewise, virtue is extroverted. This past year the Universal Church under Pope Francis drew our attention to living the Works of Mercy, the 7 spiritual and 7 corporal works of mercy. All of them are based in sacred Scripture; read the Gospel of Matthew 25. During Great Lent, what work of mercy will we do to live a Work of Mercy?

Lady Lent in your home?

The tradition is that before Lent starts, the family will make “Lady Lent” out of paper, clay or baked flour.

Lady Lent is made with no mouth as a sign of fasting. She has no ears, as she refuses to listen to gossip. Her eyes are closed, as she refused to watch and judge others. Her head is tilted, her eyes closed and her hands are folded reverently in prayer as a reminder of our spiritual journey during Lent.

She has seven feet, based on the number of Sundays until of Lent until Pascha. The tradition is that, every Saturday one of her feet is cut or broken off until she had no more feet by Holy Saturday, before Easter.

On Holy Saturday, the last foot is cut off and then is placed in a jar dried fruits and nuts, and whoever finds it receives a special blessing. Traditionally, whoever finds the last leg of Lady Lent, would right their his/her name and date on the back of it and keep it for good luck.

(h/t BC)

Parish Announcements this week

1. RECTORY OFFICE will be closed from Monday, February 27, 2017 until Friday, March 3, 2017. Father Iura Godenciuc will be away for Clergy Days.

2. The Knights of Columbus Blessed Andrey Sheptysky will hold its next regular meeting on Monday, March 6, 2017 at 7:00 P.M. in the church hall. All men of parish are invited to attend to see what the Knights are all about and what can do for our parish.

3. SOROKOUSTY will be celebrated during Lent on All Souls’ Saturdays, March 11, 18, April 1, June 3. Please take a book found in the entrance of the church, fill it out. Place it in envelope, and drop it in the collection basket. Let us remember all our loved ones who have gone to their heavenly reward. Eternal Memory!

3. All new announcements for upcoming events should be submitted to rectory office before Tuesday of the week prior to when the event is to be posted in the bulletin.

4. We have for sale stuffed cabbage with meat or mushrooms ($18.00 per dozen) cabbage with sausage ($10.00 per container), stew with meat and mushrooms $8.00, pierogies in bags $12.00 or in container $10.00.  See Walter Ushchak after the Liturgy.

5. SUMA Federal Credit Union, New Haven Branch, 555 George St., New Haven, CT.   Business hours: From October 1,2007 Tues.  3:00pm to 7:00 pm., Sat. 9:00am to 12:30 pm . Phone (203) 785-8805; Fax: (203) 785-8677.

6. A container is in our church vestibule for non-perishable food. This collection will be taken every week. Father Iura will distribute the food to those in need. Thank you for your generosity. See Judy Ellis for assistance and more information.

Cheesefare Sunday

Christ with Adam and Eve“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.” (From today’s Gospel, Matthew 6:16)

The reason is not to be hypocritical, in the pattern we’ve seen over the past three Sundays, to think that we are better than others. In this saying, we may see something deeper, the wisdom of what it means to live a godly life. Fasting is the more difficult decision. It’s easier to eat what we want, to be the person we want to be, to follow our own “nature.” It’s a modern mantra, “Be the person that you are! Don’t let others – even God – tell you what to do!” But it’s really not “modern,” it goes back to Adam and Eve, who ate the forbidden fruit so that they would “know” – that is, determine what is good and evil for themselves. We have to discern “easy nature” from “real nature,” for God has created us to surpass “nature” and become “godlike.” The army tells us, “Be all that you can be,” but faith tells us, “Be more than you can be.” To choose for ourselves wraps us up in ourselves, and closes us to the whole universe of others and to God. Fasting is a symbol, of refusing the decision of Adam and Eve, of opening ourselves up to others and to God.

Nicholas Denysenko recently wrote, “Fasting is about changing one’s ways for the sake of the other; one dies to excesses and indulgences in one’s life to become aware of the other and his needs, and to rehearse loving the other.” The gospel tells us that we should be joyful in opening ourselves up to the other, a whole new universe awaits us! Fasting is an “alleluia.”

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras

Preparing for Great Lent

Prep for Great LentThe bishops of the U.S. Ukrainian Eparchies have drawn attention to the biblical figure of Zacchaeus, whose gospel narrative we just heard, as the figure we ought to follow in our preparations for Great Lent. One of the key points the bishops raise is really the last sentence of the pastoral letter when Jesus says to Zacchaeus –and He says to us– “Today salvation has come to this house.” Do we know, from personal experience, and not from an abstraction that TODAY the Lord is indeed in our house, that is, in our person???

The bishops of have given us a pastoral letter that opens up the relevant matters in the spiritual life: conversion to Jesus Christ and life in the Body of Christ (the Church). They write, “This is why the Church, in her wisdom, offers us the gift of the holy forty days of Great Lent each year before the celebration of Our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection, as a divine aid in attaining personal conversion.” Our thoughts, words and actions have consequences for ourselves and for the communities (family, social interactions, workplace) in which we spend time.

The bishops remind us:

 During Great Lent the Church presents us with a sure formula for achieving this goal: prayer, alms-giving and fasting.  During the time of Lent we are encouraged to be more devoted to our prayer life, through private meditation and by attending the beautiful and unique Lenten services celebrated in our parish churches.  We are also encouraged to pay special attention to our brothers and sisters around us, who may be suffering physical, emotional, or spiritual distress, and serve them in their needs.  And finally we are encouraged to fast, in order to attain humility through the taming of our physical appetites, our thoughts, our actions and especially our unruly tongue.

The sincere prayer our Shepherds “is that each of us, during this blessed time of Great Lent, may experience an encounter with Jesus and a personal conversion in Him so that we, along with Zacchaeus, would hear the voice of Jesus saying to us: ‘Today salvation has come to this house‘” (Lk. 19:9).

Senator urges clarity in US position with Russia, responds to Ukrainian humanitarian crisis

Yesterday, Sunday, 19 February 2017, Senator Richard Blumenthal of the U.S. Senate, spoke with parishioners and others at St Michael’s regarding political and humanitarian crisis faced in the Ukraine viz. the aggression of Russia. The Senator has visited St. Michael’s Church before to speak on these matters.

You may read the New Haven Register’s article on the meeting.

Meatfare Sunday — Sunday of the Last Judgement

Last JundgementIn our preparation for the Great Fast, we must notice a theme emerging. In the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, the Pharisee was not justified because he failed to see the image of God in the tax collector. (“I thank you that I am not like this tax collector,” Luke 18:11). In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the older son was not justified because he failed to see the image of God in the prodigal returned home. (“But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him,” Luke 15:20). Today, in the final judgment, the Lord says to the condemned goats, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it (show charitable works of mercy) to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” (Matthew 25:45)” In the popular mind, Lent is a time for self-denial. Stop, that’s it. But why? Because if we do not deny ourselves, we cannot see the image of God in the other, in each and every other human being that he has created.

Possibly the Last Judgment was commemorated on this Sunday, because it is the conclusion of a “Church Year.” Next Sunday, Cheesefare Sunday, we begin again with the story of Adam and Eve and the Fall. The Great Fast is our journey through the Old Testament, which is concluded with the New Covenant: the Mystical Supper, the Crucifixion and the Glorious and Life-giving Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. We then see through the lens of the Resurrection how God’s plan is fulfilled in Christ in the Gospel of John the Theologian (until Pentecost), in the Gospel of Matthew (from Pentecost to the Exaltation of the Cross), and in the Gospel of Luke (from the Exaltation of the Cross until the Sunday of the Prodigal Son). Then tomorrow, we celebrate the last and final and eschatological mystery of the Final Judgment, in which God brings to completion and perfection the whole human story. That may be why, on the day before the Sunday of the Last Judgment, we remember the death of each human being, which is the completion and perfection of our own individual story and our inclusion in God’s ultimate divine plan. Interestingly, the Roman Church read the Gospel of the Final Judgment on the last Sunday before Advent, which began their liturgical year.