Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Transfiguration

УКРАЇНСЬКA КАТОЛИЦЬКA ЦЕРКВА ПРЕОБРАЖЕННЯ ГОСПОДНЬОГО


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WE ARE NEIGHBOURS HELPING NEIGHBOURS AS WE CAN

Our Parish’s “Little Free Pantry” is a way for us to fill our hearts by sharing food

with those around us!

Dear Parish Family,

We are collecting Food Bank type non-perishable food in the box at the new entrance for volunteers to stock our “Little Free Pantry”.

Please donate food when you can, so that we can help “feed the hungry” in the neighbourhood. (Why not purchase an extra item or two when your favourite grocery store has a sale?) Our donation of food helps to sow kindness, generosity, and community nourishment.

Please volunteer to come and check on the Pantry. You can choose to come one day a week or more. Below is the August calendar. Please email me to claim a day to come and check on the pantry.

VOLUNTEERS:

  1. Come and check on the Pantry at any time of the day that is convenient for you. Just check if all is neat and clean.
  2. If you can, bring an item to place inside, or
  3. If the pantry is empty, you can a) enter the church if the residents are home to let you in (or Fr. Yaroslaw at the house) to access the food in the Food Box at the entrance; b) if there is no food available, simply let me know the pantry is empty.

There is a high need in the area of our church, so inevitably the pantry will be empty at times.

That is OK.

We are neighbours helping neighbours as we can.


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“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free man, there is no longer male or female. For all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

YOUR QUESTIONS: Should women cover their heads when they enter the church? If not, then why do most older women in the villages of Western Ukraine wear scarves on their heads when going to church?

  This is a wonderful question and its answer helps us understand a great deal about the complex relationship between cultural practices and our life as a faith community.

The quick answer to your first question is NO. There is no obligation for women to cover their heads when entering the church.

So, good question, why in many areas of the world (not just in Ukraine) is this the practice of many women? The answer lies in a long history of cultural norms imposing themselves on religious practice. There is no question that for too long (centuries in fact) women have been treated as second class citizens by the male dominated societies—this is not limited to Christian cultures. When a cultural norm is accepted by a religious community, in this instance, Christian, the community tries to validate its practice through a religious authority. In the case of women’s roles and, specifically, the need for women to cover their heads, men found an authority in one solitary passage in the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians 11:4. There, most translations (remember our Ukrainian and English texts are translations from ancient Greek) speak of the need for women to cover their heads, or some translations say “not have their heads uncovered”. But this is the only instance in the New Testament when this is mentioned as something Christian women should do. So is St. Paul telling all Christian women to have head coverings when they go to church? Not likely. Why? In the early Church various Church leaders (Paul being the first) wrote many letters to the Christians of Corinth, so we know quite a bit about that community. This community was perpetually arguing. Most of the letters we have, and we have two written by St. Paul, try to explain to the Corinthian church the need for unity in diversity. This is the main theme of Paul’s first letter. He wants the Corinthians to learn to be respectful and united as they come together to celebrate the Eucharist. He addresses their specific context: their local practices and customs. At the time, Romans (the dominant group from which the Corinthian Christians came) were very concerned with, among other things, how people wore their hair and what it meant. For example, long, elaborately decorated hair of a woman was a sign of her high social standing because only such a person could have slaves who would style her hair. A woman with long loose hair or a shaved head was regarded as a woman of loose morals. Similarly, a man with long hair or a hairdo was seen in the same way.

  Very simply, covered hair was Paul’s attempt to equalize class prejudice, so all could be treated with equal dignity and respect. Paul’s appeal for women to have their head covered was a means to facilitate respect for all women in the assembly. But as often happens the practice which continued under the cultural pressures of the middle ages, which gave women an inferior role, came to be an unquestioned tradition. Today, over 2 millenia after Christ’s actions and words (treating women, Samaritans, lepers, etc. as equals) first undermined the cultural categories and traditions of His day, our societies still struggle with the inequalities that sexism (and other practices of oppression) demand.    

  Here we come to Paul’s overall and consistent message in this letter: so although men and women are different: “in the Lord, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. Although woman came from man, so does every man come from a woman, and all things come from God.” (11:11-12) We live in mutual relationship, like the Holy Trinity. This echoes the foundational Pauline statement: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free man, there is no longer male or female. For all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)


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We can look to St. Olha for the strength and resolve to protect our children, our heritage, and our Faith

I have so many questions about saints! Why are some saints popular in the Western world and not in our church? Why is Olha a saint when she is famous for so cruelly avenging her husband’s death? Aren’t saints supposed to be holy?

  This Sunday is the feastday of kniahynia (princess) Olha, who is a renown saint in Eastern Europe. In our Eastern Catholic Tradition, every person is called to sainthood—which means to walk in the footsteps of Christ. We believe that every person of faith is a saint when they die because they join Christ in heaven. Additionally, the Church recognizes specific individuals as examples to help and inspire our own journey as Christians. The major religions acknowledge those who are most meaningful to them. The Latin Church has developed a process of canonization whereby individuals brought forward by communities must conform to a set of conditions before they are given the official designation of saint. The Byzantine Church has maintained a process of glorification that acknowledges the influence a person has had on their Christian communities. All religious communities have what we might call folk saints—individuals whose example of holiness has a lasting effect on their community. Ultimately, a saint is a regular human being, with weaknesses, sins, and strengths whose memory is preserved for us to look towards and learn from. Each Christian person may find unique gifts from any saint.  St Olha was a powerful ruler who was instrumental in the consolidation of Kyivan Rus’ as a political entity. She was the first sovereign to adopt Christianity and her efforts to convert the rest of her people earned her the title “rivna apostoliv”: “Equal to the Apostles.” She protected her son, Sviatoslav from invaders and influenced her grandson, Prince Volodymyr the Great, who converted all of Kyivan Rus to Christianity. Today when russia relentlessly seeks to destroy Ukraine, we can look to St Olha for the strength and resolve to protect our children, our heritage, and our Faith.


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“We want every one of our parishes to become a place where God’s mercy is evident to those in need.” (Bishop Vasyl Tuchapets’)

Our parish is beginning a ‘Little Free Pantry’ for anyone to take what they need for no cost. Currently so many people find it hard to make ends meet, choosing between adequate food and paying bills. “Is this our responsibility?” some might ask. “Shouldn’t the government manage poverty and homelessness?”

This past week at the Synod of our Bishops in Ukraine, Bishop Tuchapets’ answered this question for us:

On Monday, July 11 Bishop Vasyl’ Tuchapets’, head of the UGCC’s Department of Social Service addressed the Synod on the theme: “An Analysis of the implementation of a social service strategy in the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church”.

  Bishop Vasyl’ reminded the audience that the strategy and pastoral plan for the development of social services in the UGCC was endorsed by the Bishops’ Synod in 2016. This plan is based on three fundamental elements: nurturing a spirit of generosity and social responsibility in the faithful, service for the good of those in need, and institutional development and raising of qualifications of those who provide social supports.

  “When we speak about nurturing a spirit of generosity and social responsibility, we hope to turn the attention of every one of our faithful to the fact that acts of compassion for those in need are an expression of our love for them, we are carrying out the commandment of love and that is the greatest Christian command.”

  “As to service for those who suffer, the bishop added, this involves concrete acts of compassion. It is important that we as Church are not indifferent or passive to those in need, but rather we should attend to them and as much as we are able, demonstrate compassion.”

  During the working session the bishops exchanged ideas about the best way to serve those in need during the russian aggression against Ukraine. They especially emphasized the importance of advancing the volunteer movement within the UGCC.

  The third element of the strategy to enhance the social service of the UGCC, lies in institutional advancement and raising the calibre of those in social services. “If our services were more systematic, we could serve more and better, . . .  we need to have responsible persons in every parish of the UGCC who would take responsibility for initiating assistance to those in need in the area.

  “Today Ukraine is in a state of war and we see that many people, especially in the eastern and southern provinces of Ukraine, have left their homes, are refugees outside the country or have been forced from their homes and need assistance in the places they now reside. So at this time, as Church, we turn our attention to these people to serve them.”

  The bishop added, “But there are people who have remained in place and we must serve them too. We want every one of our parishes to become a place where God’s mercy is evident to anyone in need,” summarized Bishop Vasyl.

http://news.ugcc.ua/news/vladika_vasil%D1%96y_tuchapets_pro_sots%D1%96alne_sluzh%D1%96nnya_ugkts_hochemo_shchob_kozhna_nasha_paraf%D1%96ya_stala_m%D1%96stsem_viyavu_bozhogo_miloserdya_do_potrebuyuchih_lyudey_97401.html


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The Divine Liturgy is a joyous celebration of Christ’s Resurrection: the Good News of our Salvation

Why do some people kneel during the Divine Liturgy?

Father has told us not to, but I don’t remember why. Does it matter?

Can’t we do what we want?

Our Divine Liturgy is an ancient practice of collective prayer that we have preserved for centuries because of its value to us as a community of Faith. Its enduring relevance lies, to a great extent, in its symbolic richness. The Divine Liturgy is a joyous celebration of Christ’s Resurrection: the Good News of our Salvation.

It is a collective prayer of and for all creation in gratitude, love, and joy. Standing symbolizes reverence: We stand with our Resurrected Lord and this is our proper liturgical sign of being united with Christ as one body. Kneeling symbolizes penitence. We only kneel at certain services during Lent, such as during our Liturgies of the Presanctified Gifts. Standing has been considered the correct position for praying since before Christ’s time. Images in early Christian catacombs depict believers standing together in prayer.

Oftentimes people kneel because in Western Ukraine our Church was under the Roman Catholic influence of Poland. Today, kneeling is an RC practice that is contested by many. Others within that Church and in ours insist that kneeling is right because that’s how they were taught. In 325 the Council of Nicea banned kneeling during the Divine Liturgy in order to promote uniformity. We are, as they say, in this together, so we too should all stand together—remembering the dignity and joy granted by our Lord.

We can kneel—but let’s do that when praying on our own or before and after Liturgy.

Stand: in respect, dignity, and celebration;

Sit: for attentive listening;

Kneel: for penitence and sorrow.   


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The Eucharist is a gift of grace that unites us as a community of faith

Some years ago, for a few weeks parishioners wrote in questions they had about our church and faith life that were answered in the Sunday bulletins. Once again, the opportunity is here: “Anything you ever wanted to know about our church and faith tradition—but were afraid to ask—is back”!!!!  

Don’t delay; send in your questions! The answer will be in the bulletin before you know it!

Here is a sample question from before:

I know that we receive the Eucharist as babies and that “first holy communion” is a Roman Catholic practice, but don’t we have to go to confession before communion? Are we supposed to have communion every Sunday? My Baba says one thing but others have different ideas.  What are the rules?

What is the Eucharist?

Eucharist means thanksgiving. The Divine Liturgy (RC call it Mass) is a celebration of Eucharist, where we participate in the transfiguration of our material reality into the heavenly or Divine reality that Christ revealed to his apostles at the Last Supper or Tajna Vechera (Mystical Supper).

The Divine (Sunday) Liturgy is when we come together as Faithful, as believers in Christ, to celebrate the new life we have in the Resurrection of Christ. We pray as a community for the world and humanity. As a community, as a family, we take part in a meal—the Eucharist—which unites us as the Body of Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Are we supposed to receive the Eucharist every week?

The sacrament of Eucharist is the fulfilment of the Divine Liturgy; it is how we physically take part in Christ’s heavenly presence among us. As with all sacraments, the Eucharist is a gift of grace that unites us as a community of faith, so we are all invited, by Christ, to receive the sacrament.

Don’t we have to go to confession first?

Unless we have committed a mortal sin (that means we are very troubled and need to look for spiritual guidance), we come to the Eucharistic celebration to be renewed in our faith and to strengthen our relationship with Christ through our church community. When we receive the Eucharist the priest reminds us that “the servant of God is communicated with the precious body and blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting, amen.” We approach the sacraments with “fear of God, faith, and love”. The sacrament of confession (penance) is not mandatory before receiving the sacrament of Eucharist. Can we, as human people, ever pretend to be so perfect as to approach God? We approach, not because we are sinless, but because we accept God’s grace that we know through Christ and experience through the Holy Spirit as community.

Can we eat before receiving the Eucharist?

Church law asks that we don’t eat for 1 hour before the Eucharistic celebration, so that we can focus on preparing for our communion with our community in Christ.

But eating body and blood is cannibalism!

In the Gospels, at the Mystical Supper Christ shared bread and wine with his friends and followers. Food is necessary for life. Christ is necessary for our heavenly life, for the life of resurrection. Christ is our sustenance, and we take part in the resurrected life of Christ by sharing, as a loving faith community, the tangible material reality of bread and wine. This communion is sacramental—a mystical linking heaven and earth. It is not a literal act of cannibalism.

Why do we use bread and wine instead of wafers, as in the RC church?

We use bread, leavened bread, because this is the bread that rises—a symbol of the resurrected Christ as our new life. (The RC church continues the Jewish tradition of using unleavened bread, as for the Passover meal.)


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Welcoming Bishop Bryan, 4th Bishop of Toronto and Eastern Canada

On Monday, June 27, 2022 our Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada (http://www.ucet.ca/) will be celebrating the official installation of the Most Reverend Bishop Bryan Joseph Bayda, CSsR, as our 4th Eparch. Bishop Bryan was nominated by Pope Francis at the request of our Synod of Bishops. His Grace Lawrence Huculak, Metropolitan Archbishop of Winnipeg will preside over the ceremony. Metropolitan Borys Gudziak of Philadelphia, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toronto, His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, the Most Rev. Ivan Jurkovic, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, all the active Ukrainian Catholic bishops in North America, many Eastern and Roman Catholic bishops from Canada and the United States, as well as the Consul General of Ukraine, Mr. Oleksandr Shevchenko will attend.

Because of the escalation of russia’s war against Ukraine His Beatitude Patriarch Sviatoslav, Primate of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church is unable to attend. He and many bishops from Ukraine have sent their greetings and congratulations.

 Who is Bishop Bryan?

Bryan Bayda was born in 1961 in Saskatoon, SK, the third of six children. Although he grew up in Saskatoon, like many young people in Saskatchewan, he spent summers and weekends helping out on his family farm. He attended and completed St. Vladimir’s College Minor Seminary in Roblin, MB and acquired his BA (1982) and M.Div. (1987) at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto. He professed perpetual vows in 1986 with the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Ukrainian Redemptorists, Yorkton Province), was ordained to the priesthood in 1987 and to the episcopate in 2008. From 2008 Bishop Bryan Bayda served as Bishop of Saskatoon. He was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada in November 2019, following the resignation of Bishop Stephen Chmilar. He has served on a number of commissions of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, was the Youth Liaison of our Synod and represented our Synod at the 2018 Papal Synod on youth. He loves music, composes his own songs, and plays the guitar. He has a wonderful sense of humour!


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“Patriarch of the UGCC: the reasons for this war lie in Russia itself and its very essence”

People who think that Russia’s aggression was provoked by an external cause are held captive by Kremlin propaganda or they deliberately deceive others. We in Ukraine are well aware of why Russia attacked us.

The Patriarch of the UGCC said this in his video message on the 112th day of the war.

“The gift of the Holy Spirit–discernment (good sense)–is imperative for one trying to understand the causes and consequences of this full-scale Russian aggression. Today, we see that throughout the entire world, desired falsehoods rather than reality are promoted. We see and know, having experienced firsthand here in Ukraine, that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is unprovoked. Anyone who thinks that some external reason provoked Russia to military aggression is either brainwashed by Kremlin propaganda or deliberately deceiving the world.”

The head of the UGCC emphasized that post-Soviet revanchism has emerged in the guise of extreme Russian nationalism, in the ideology of the “Russian World” and garnered a distinct genocidal ethos.

“Ukraine is its first victim. That is why it is critical to understand the causes and consequences of this war. Unfortunately, the reasons for this war lie in Russia itself, in its very being. The Russian aggressor aims to solve its internal problems with the help of external aggression, projects its diseases on others and blames the whole world for them,” he stressed.

“Therefore, today we pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit for politicians, diplomats, and church religious figures so that the Lord God will give them this gift of reason, the ability to distinguish causes and consequences, the ability to see the depth of reality and distinguish truth from fabricated lies and falsehoods,” the UGCC Patriarch added.

As reported, Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church stated that Russia “never attacked anyone.”

(https://risu.ua/patriarh-ugkc-prichini-ciyeyi-vijni-lezhat-u-samij-rosiyi-yiyi-suti_n130167)


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“The breath of the Spirit brings out the sacramentality of nature and bestows on it the fragrance of resurrection” John Chryssavgis

Zeleni sviata literally translates into Green holy days. This is what we call Pentecost when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Disciples. On this Sunday our entire Church commemorates the dead, visiting cemeteries and singing panachydy. Does it seem paradoxical? Green is the colour of new life, hope, growth, and care for the natural environment. Underlying these dynamic attributes is Love. Divine Love generates this flood of greenery and gives us fresh oxygen for life. We decorate our homes and churches with boughs of greenery to symbolize our shared spirit with each other in our communities, with nature, and yes—even with those who have joined the angels. Monday is the second Green holy day: the feast of the Trinity.

  On these days we renew the vows we made through our Godparents at our baptism! When we were anointed we received (sacramentally) the Holy Spirit. From that moment on, like the apostles, we acknowledged God in us. We were infants, but our family and our community vowed to bring the Spirit to life in us. We are one in the Spirit of God. We are one in Christ. Each of us has the flame of the Spirit in our souls; each of us is given this gift of God’s Love. But we must fan the flame into fire. How? Through loving. By practicing love, we learn to love and to be loved. That’s why our parish community is so important. Together we emulate the Trinity, forever reaching out to others, embracing others and supporting each other in living a life of love. Love begets love only when one is open to consciously trying to be loving: we try and perhaps daily or even hourly we fail, but with the Spirit we try again and again, rejoicing in the goodness we can see and feel with our renewed attempts. When we ignore the Spirit in us, when we deny its presence and stifle its flame, we open ourselves to greed, selfishness, distrust and even hatred. This stifling of the Holy Spirit brings war and oppression.

  We are so blessed to have each other, here in our church of the Transfiguration of our Lord. Each person’s kindness, welcome, and generosity continues to nourish the Trinitarian flame. Just as the apostles marveled that they could share the Good News of Christ with those who spoke various languages, so too we can be glad of our bilingual community: praying together and sharing the Eucharist, whether we speak English or Ukrainian. As community we grow in compassion and delight in opportunities of service, whether it is to clean the church grounds or take volunteer to visit a parishioner who is unwell. These Zeleni Sviata, we pray together for the Holy Spirit to rekindle the flames of our collective energy, so that together we may grow in courage, strength and joy, bringing the love and peace of Christ to all who join us.