Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Transfiguration


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Blessings and Peace for 2020


Julian Calendar celebration of Christ’s Nativity:

January 6th: 9:30 p.m. Christmas Compline followed by the Divine Liturgy

January 7th: 11:00 a.m. Christmas Divine Liturgy

January 8 & 9th: 10:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy

January 10th: 6:00 p.m. Divine Liturgy

January 19th (Feast of Theophany–Christ’s Baptism in the Jordan):

10:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy followed by traditional parish meal (kuttya)


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Holy Forefathers

Christmas is a time of memories. Of course, the primary memory is of the birth of the Saviour. However, it is inseparable from memories of our childhood and the security and warmth of home. Christmas carols recall those memories, of years long ago. Today’s Sunday reminds us that to fully understand what the Nativity is about we need to include the memories of stories of the Old Testament. Jesus’ birth is not some unexpected, dramatic event. Rather, in the midst of the quiet and humility of Bethlehem, the Child who is born is the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament—the fulfillment of God’s desire and intention to be with us.

Holy ForefathersThis Sunday speaks to us of the many figures of old who witnessed and taught (often against the accepted views of the day) that God’s sole desire is to be with us. Whether Abraham or Moses, Isaiah or Jeremiah, their message is simple: God is loving and compassionate. God wants us to understand this. In spite of humanity’s errors and sins, God has always been with us, forgiven us, and called us into union. When humanity was created, we walked with God in the garden. Adam rejected this relationship, but God never gave up on us. God continues to love and care for us. This is the ever-gracious God who comes to us in the Saviour. The holy forefathers, the entire story of Israel, creation itself, are all reminders of the graciousness of God—of GOD WITH US!

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St. Nicholas…Mykolaj…embodying love

Here we are, greeting a 2019 Mykolaj! Despite planetary crisis, despite insatiable greed, despite corrupt leaders and senseless violence, we, nevertheless, are celebrating the actions of a bishop who lived almost 2 thousand years ago. Not because we have to, but because this most popular saint of all time reawakens our fun-loving goodness. In the dead of winter, when the nights are longest, Mykolaj pops onto the scene, reminding us that being human is full of wonder and (de)light. How amazing that you and I should relate to a 4th c wealthy Greek cleric. St.NicholasBut we can because this man’s actions illuminate Christ—embodied Love. Christmas is the joyous recognition that our humanity, our universe, and our life in all its complexity, are truly sacred. It’s a fact that popular culture has used St Nicholas as a symbol of consumer culture and gift-giving at this time of year. However, I believe that we relate to Mykolaj because he, in his position of wealth and power, responded with compassion to ordinary people in his local community. He noticed individuals; he noticed what they needed and felt moved to do what he could to help. The legends describe not simply generosity, but rather simple human kindness: kindness shown in secret and playful ways. Kindness is its own reward, makes us feel good, makes us smile. Especially in these times of darkness, whether literal or figurative, kindness is a gift we all crave and we can give in abundance just by noticing those around us and sharing our smiles. We greet Mykolaj in each other. Happy holy-days!

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Who is my neighbour?

This Sunday’s parable of the Good Samaritan is among the most popular of all bible stories. Good Samaritan is even a common synonym for philanthropy. Because it’s so familiar, we might too easily miss this parable’s shocking significance to our life circumstances here and now. In Gospel times, Jesus’s Samaritan figure would have been shocking—scandalous. Samaritans were considered unclean, justifiably despicable, to be avoided at all costs. Who would we see as equivalent to that? This figure is beyond simply a foreigner, or a member of a different faith. Who is so beyond my sphere of comfort? Your sphere of acceptance? A member of ISIS? A convicted criminal? Perhaps a drug addict or . . . a family member who has hurt us? We know in our hearts whom we do not consider “a part” of “us”. Christ’s radical call is to recognize this “other” as so completely an equal to me that I cannot help but be “moved to compassion” to the extent that I will spare no expense for their well being.

Christ calls us to something much more amazing and crazy difficult than charity. The parable suggests that there are no differences amongst humans. Our categories and hierarchies of worth are artificially constructed. In God we are one. In and through Christ we—you and I—carry God’s love in the world. The Samaritan parable today is deeply political, ethical, spiritual. Our “neighbours” are waiting to get into our country, from Africa, the Middle East, South and Central America, from Ukraine. Like the injured person in Luke’s gospel, they are unnamed, unidentified, except for their woundedness. They wait by my roadside. How do I respond?

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PYLYPIVKA (Advent): our road to the Nativity

This past Thursday we entered into a new phase of our liturgical year: Pylypivka, the pre-Christmas fast. Often people associate this fast with the difficulties faced by the Holy Family during their journey to Bethlehem. This is a nice symbolic explanation, but it denies the important liturgical roots of the season. Pylypivka prepares us for a major feastday (just as Great Lent prepares us for Easter). All fasts provide the opportunity to prepare ourselves to accordingly celebrate a feastday. Preparation is important and can take many forms. It is not simply about not eating meat on certain days! Fasts are meant to be periods of reflection, restraint, and good works. They are an extension of our common liturgical prayer, because “liturgy” means the work of the people (that expresses our faith).

Good samaritan

I think we should all be very proud of our common efforts in the parish: our community prayer, sharing over coffee, work in the kitchen, project SMILE, the shipment of winter wear to the Donetsk Exarchate, etc. But each of us can live this fast in our daily lives: perhaps more self control in our conversations, more kindness to those around us, more care in our use of natural resources (for example water or electricity), more intentional spending by buying what we need, not simply what we want. This fast can help us to live out our Christian vocation more consciously.

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November 21: Feast of Archangel St. Michael, patron of Kyiv

The beginning of the Revolution of Dignity on the Maidan in Kyiv

St. Michael's Kyiv

November 21 has long been an important date on the calendar for Ukrainians, but since 2013 it has taken on additional significance. On the evening of the 21st in 2013 over a thousand people began a protest in the central square in Kyiv, condemning the decision of the Yanukovych government to back away from an earlier decision to enter into an Association Agreement with the European Union. This government’s rejection of Europe, back into the arms of Russia, was widely condemned in Ukraine, but particularly by university students who took to the streets. No one expected the first protest to swell into a massive revolution of historic proportions. In a violent attempt to scatter the protesters, the authorities brutally attacked in the night of Dec. 10-11. In support of the protestors the bells of St. Michael’s Cathedral sounded, waking the citizens of Kyiv, and calling them to the Maidan. In response thousands came in support and joined the student demonstrators! A few weeks earlier the monks of St. Michael’s had opened their door to demonstrators offering them food and a place to sleep, but on that December night their care and hospitality took on new meaning: in the middle ages the bells of St. Michael’s had rung to warn Kyivites of oncoming attacks by Tatars – now they rang announcing the need to rise up and claim their rights as free citizens in a free Ukraine!

St. Michael’s patronage over Kyiv could not be clearer!




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The former head of our Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church, the blessed metropolitan Andriy Sheptytsky died on November 1, 1944 due to complications from the flu. On Nov. 5th he was buried in the underground crypt of St. George’s Cathedral in Lviv. On the eve of his passing, on Oct. 31st he spoke these words to those gathered around him:

“Our Church will be destroyed, devastated by the Bolsheviks. But stand firm, do not desert the faith, the Holy Catholic Church. The terrible experience which will befall our church will be temporary. I see the resurrection of our Church. The Church will be more beautiful, more glorious than before and she will embrace our whole nation. Ukraine will free itself from its fall and will become a strong state, united, great and will become an equal of other highly developed and civilized countries of the world. Peace, prosperity, good fortune, high culture, mutual love and concord will reign in Ukraine.”

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Baptized and Sent

Very appropriately for us in Canada, today is World Mission Sunday. Pope Francis has provided the theme: Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World. As faith filled Christians we are all responsible for living Christ’s Gospel in the world. The Pope says: “ This missionary mandate touches us personally: I am a mission, always; you are a mission, always; every baptized man and woman is a mission.” Tomorrow, election day, we have an opportunity to express, through our vote, our commitment to bring Christ to the world. As Christians our faith compels us to live our lives actively engaged with others, our community, our society. Canada has not escaped the growing wave, globally, of intolerance and protectionism, that scapegoats the vulnerable and disregards truth. We are inundated with messaging assuring us that we need less taxes and more dollars in our pockets. It’s increasingly hard to sift through mudslinging, rhetoric, and outright falsehood to be able to make a wise discerning choice.

Happily we have our faith community to keep us grounded.

We vote for good leadership for our collective—for our communities of people. As we’ve seen with the idea of Ubuntu: “I am, because we are.” And so we can remember that without taxes we cannot have healthcare and social services and public education and parks and all the aspects of Canada that make it such a good place to be. How often have we watched politicians, who say they value life, cut back services that support the single mothers who struggle with their children? As we vote let’s think of our theology of icons that reminds us we are, and all creation is, transformed through God’s humanity in Christ. Who of our candidates will honestly act to preserve our environment, to respect all people, not just income generators?

As we cast our vote, let’s remember that Christ was born homeless, in poverty, displaced. Who of our candidates will support and welcome immigrants and refugees?

It is a privilege and responsibility to vote.

May we cast our ballots with care, pride, and love for all humanity.