Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Transfiguration


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We are called to enter into God’s Kingdom

This past Sunday we celebrated the day of the holy apostle Philip, which marks the beginning of Pylipivka, the pre-Christmas fast—a preparation for the celebration of Our Lord’s Nativity. It is a wonderful time of reflection and preparation. Reflection upon the great mystery of God’s love for us and preparing ourselves for His presence among us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

During this period, specifically, for this month during our Sunday homilies, we will be focussing on deepening our awareness of God’s love and presence in and through our Divine Liturgy.

  The liturgical life of the church is not just another set of rituals or rules, like the norms we have established for organizations or public ceremonies. Our liturgical life is an attempt for us to enter into divine life, to see ourselves and our world as God sees. It is for this reason that the church has a different cycle during the year than our social calendar. The church’s calendar is not built around a “new year” but rather structured around an event which goes beyond time and includes all time: Easter—the day of Resurrection, the Feast of Feasts. This is our starting point and our end point. It is the day which gives meaning to all else. It is the day that we re-live every Sunday and that we are invited to re-celebrate at every Divine Liturgy.

  So what is the Divine Liturgy? We will focus on this for the next few weeks in our Sunday homilies. We will hear about our call to enter into the Kingdom, not as weak and lost people, but as those who are called to a higher dignity: children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ. We become this, not of our own action, but because this is what God’s love does to us. As children of God we come to know our Lord through the actions of God in human history: so we hear what God has done in the singing of the psalm excerpts in the antiphons, and the readings from the New Testament (epistle and gospel). But then we are invited into an even more intimate experience: God is with us. We enter the Eucharistic portion of the Liturgy, recalling the Incarnation, the Passion, and ultimately the Resurrection of Christ. In spite of our inadequacies we are invited to “taste and see how good the Lord is”: to receive the Eucharist. Finally, we are to proclaim this truth and celebrate with joy this reality of being united to Christ as we go into the world. We are meant to take our experience of the Kingdom into the world, so that “the name of the Lord is blessed, now and forever” and not just in our churches, but throughout the world!

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Preach the Gospel—but use words only when absolutely necessary!

This Sunday’s parable gives us so much to ponder. The man possessed by demons is far more familiar than we may at first imagine. What takes hold of me so much that I might not take part in my community? What leads me to isolation? What makes me recognize Christ but tell Him to leave me be? We may think of addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography, but so much more can turn us away from others, from Truth and Goodness: a job, a grudge, a social media profile; even a relationship can become an obsession. How easily can we be possessed by the need for more money, regardless of our circumstances? Luke illustrates possession and our systemic fear of addressing it. Through Christ, the tortured man was freed and returned to the community, but not without a cost. The loss of swine was a loss of income. If we imagine pigs as “unclean” as they were to the Jews, then the parable suggests that the social order benefitted from the poor man’s affliction. The people didn’t want Christ there. They preferred their status quo. Nevertheless, Christ asked the man to stay with his community and “tell them what God has done for you.”

      This parable is so relevant to our day, when we know how much our privileged societies rely on the structures that impoverish others. If we lived according to Gospel values, global strife, the climate crisis, poverty would certainly be alleviated, but too often, individually we do not want to feel the cost of changes that bring greater equity among rich and poor countries. We are afraid to support governments and leadership that might bring uncomfortable changes. The invasion of Ukraine financially benefits russian supporters, just as North America benefits from cheap labour in countries such as India and China. What can we do? As we go about our lives, we can look to each other for God’s strength to overcome our addictions and leave our “demons”. We can live so that our lives “tell what God has done for us”, remembering always the advice of St Francis: Preach the Gospel—but use words only when absolutely necessary!

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You and I can bridge the chasm between the rich man’s hell and the heaven of Lazarus and Abraham

This Sunday and Monday is when we bring in our gifts of warm scarfs and greeting cards that will be sent to all the residents of the orphanage in Petryky, Ukraine. We have forged a bond of caring with these institutionalized girls, letting them know that we remember them and wish them joy. Our attention has caused positive ripples for everyone involved with this internat. We too are enriched by the opportunity to reach out to these girls living so far from us.

I also had hoped to send a reminder about the Little Pantry on our church property. This is a small way that we can contribute to individuals whose lives are less fortunate than our own. Whenever we are near the church, why not add a grocery item to the pantry, either from the bin at the church, or from your own home? Please leave grocery items at the church entrance whenever you can. A neighbour on the street told me how delighted she was that we had set up this pantry. It is a great way to help people get by in these difficult times. Food is essential to everyone.

  Having our parish initiatives in mind, you can imagine my surprise when I read this Sunday’s parable about Lazarus and the rich man. The Parable’s lesson is unequivocal. Do I see the person who is homeless?  Do I respond to him as I do to my family members?  Do I see the addict living in the tent? Do I know her name?  Lazarus is the only named character in all the Gospel parables! Lazarus means “whom God helps”. God calls the suffering individual by name, while the rich man simply ignores him.

  While we like to think that living well is a heavenly reward, the reality is different. God is with us in our suffering as well as in our joy. And we experience the living Christ through acts of kindness and love. You and I can bridge that chasm between the rich man’s hell and the heaven of Lazarus and Abraham. 

  As a community we are taking small but beautiful steps towards, rather than away from those in need: each card we write to the orphanage in Ukraine addresses a person by name. We can see God in them. Each item of food I put in the pantry is a selfless, anonymous gift to someone who is hungry.

  Each prayer and donation to aid Ukraine is a light in darkness. With each step of kindness, Good prevails over evil. Our patriarch Sviatoslav assures us that Ukraine will win by being spiritually and morally stronger than our enemy: we transform hate into courage and love for our homeland. We cultivate love. “ . . . hatred gives birth to criminals, but love gives birth to heroes. Ukraine is revealing itself to be a nation of heroes”.

May we find joy in revealing Christ within us!

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“By the grace and mercies of His love for us”

The Christian life is not about a “once and for all” event. Just because we are baptised or receive the Eucharist does not mean that we have achieved holiness. The Christian life is similar to the journey of the Hebrew people through the desert on the way from Egyptian bondage to the Promised Land: a journey of hardships, failings, but also insight into the gracious enduring love of God. On our journey it is really important for us to be aware of ourselves, of how we are doing, whether we are on the right track, and when we lose our way, how to get back to the route.

This is where an examination of conscience comes in. This examination can take many forms. We can use the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes as our map and check on ourselves daily or weekly to see whether we are on track. If we use the Ten Commandments as our guide, we need to remember that they are not a checklist: “I haven’t killed anyone—check. I’m okay.” Rather, they are general guides which can be grouped into Jesus’s two great commandments: love of God and love of neighbour. How in my daily life do I demonstrate one and the other? Similarly, using the Beatitudes is not about whether we have “blessed someone poor in spirit”; it is asking ourselves whether we have shown respect to the lonely, depressed, rejected. There are various styles of “road maps” to help our personal journey. Here is a website with examples of such examinations of conscience:

Regardless of which method is best for you, three central elements are constant in an examination of conscience: first, sit down (perhaps in front of an icon) and relax—recall that you are in the presence of God; second, be honest with yourself: what have you done or failed to do; third, decide how you will improve. Be realistic in your resolve. Our weaknesses need to be addressed with a plan of honesty, and patience.

The examination of conscience is how we stay aware of our way of being in life. But what if my questioning shows me that I am lost? What if I have done something terrible—something that contravenes the love of God? We have God’s gift of the Spirit to us and the Church, the Body of Christ. To get back on the road of Christ, as it were, we have the help of the sacrament of reconciliation (confession).

The sacrament lets us re-establish our compass, to continue this analogy, so that we are stronger and more committed to living God’s Love, and the best preparation for this sacrament is a regular examination of conscience. Reconciliation is there for us whenever we want advice, support, or encouragement on our life’s journey, not just when we feel we have committed a serious sin. It is a sacrament of healing, not punishment.    

            What is the essence of a “good confession”? Honesty and a desire to be healed by the Spirit’s presence in me. We know the formula for confession from our childhood: . Stumbling, falling, getting lost is expected on a life-long trip. But we have God’s grace and the embrace of our Church to keep us going on the adventure.

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Discover Ukraine: in the heart of Waterloo Region

Saturday, September 24th come and DISCOVER UKRAINE in the heart of Waterloo Region!

Saturday marks 7 months of attempted annihilation of Ukraine, by russia, one of the largest military powers in the world.

Ukraine continues to stand, despite russia’s relentless targeting of hospitals, schools, playgrounds and homes.  

Ukraine defends democracy, freedom, international law, human decency.

Ukraine’s courage and resilience has astonished the world.

Ukraine stands for the values Canada holds dear. 

Come, pick up a passport and catch a glimpse of the sounds, sights, and tastes of the land of sunflowers: See the skill of “vyshytia”, the intricacy of “pysanky”, learn about Ukraine’s World Heritage sites, sample a UNESCO protected cultural tradition—borsch—while watching how pyrohy/varennyky are made. Hear the music played on instruments of Ukraine. You might want to get your face painted or have a tour of Ukrainian iconograpy! See the work of local Ukrainian artists and be sure to buy a chance to win an original sunflower painting by KW artist Pat Kalyn! 


Hungry? Lunch and supper (limited) sittings ($5.)!

We, the local Ukrainian-Catholic community of KW, are grateful for your support, as we strive to support the people of Ukraine.

Slava Ukraini! Heroyam Slava!   

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When we recognize evil DO CRY OUT TO GOD!

Tell me, please, how I might deal with negative thoughts (hate, despair, feeling helpless) triggered by Russia’s war on Ukraine?

  It is understandable to be upset and have strong, negative emotions, even anger, in association with events in Ukraine and similar events around the world or here at home. Crying out to God in anger over injustice and evil is not a sin! It is human not only to feel these emotions, but also to be at a loss in how to respond. Sometimes we even, wrongly, blame ourselves or feel guilty at our inability to do anything about them. Many of us feel that somehow “we should be doing more”. However, all we can do in life is what our strength, our situation, and our capacity allows us to do. Unfortunately, none of us can solve the world’s problems and most definitely none of us can change the hearts of evil people.

  So is there anything we can do? Yes. We may feel helpless and inadequate, but in reality we are not. Firstly, if we see injustice, if we recognize evil DO CRY OUT TO GOD! The act of calling upon God in our helplessness, in our anger, in our despair has a long and sanctified history. There are many psalms of lament or declaration of despair. One of my favourites is Psalm 142; it begins: “I cry aloud to the LORD/ I lift my voice to the LORD for mercy/ I pour out my complaint before Him;/I reveal my trouble to Him.  Just skim through the psalms and you quickly will recognize your emotions there. So let God know completely and without constraint what and how you are feeling; by reading the psalms, recognize that you are not alone and others, holy people, have responded to the evils of this world in the same way.

  But you can do more: talk with others. Many are feeling the same emotions. In speaking with each other you will support each other and hopefully, sharing your experience with the psalms, you will help each other discover God’s spirit among you.

  Find little things you can do alone and with others to demonstrate a response to evil in the world. This could mean something directly connected with (in this case) the war in Ukraine. For example, write a letter to the editor, write a letter to your MP expressing your feelings. Even if it does not get published or produce results you want, someone will read it and be influenced or moved to do more about the matter from their position. NEVER minimise the effect your example, words or letters can have. Any way in which you touch another person to recognize evil and to denounce injustice is an important step in making our world better for us and for future generations.

  Support others who are also actively opposing evil. Financial assistance is not the only form of support. There is much that we can do without thinking about money. Often our most important contribution can be one of time and a smile. Many people who are actively involved in support/aid organizations are exhausted. Hearing that their efforts are appreciated can provide a huge boost. You can do that. We might think we can’t help an organization because they need hours of help and we only have half an hour this week—well that half hour could make a meaningful difference for someone, so offer to help. Don’t be offended if your offer is turned down.  Your intention to help encourages others. 

  Doing something, anything, even something that seems inadequate to you is transforming your anger and despair into a constructive, loving action. Don’t be afraid to declare your anger, but don’t let it prevent you from seeing that you are that pebble in the water that produces ripples of goodness that spread out in all directions!

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“All who have been baptised into Christ, have put on Christ”

What is obligatory to have during the sacrament of baptism (godparents, a crucifix, “kryzma”, candle(s)? Anything else?)?

In the past few weeks we have looked at the sacrament of baptism with its traditions from both theology and culture. Your suggestions are correct, in that we ask Godparents to represent the child—to speak for her/him and to accept the responsibility of being icons of Christ for their godchild, nurturing faith and Christian love. In keeping with the symbolic nature of our rites, we wrap the child in a white cloth or clothes after immersion, symbolizing new life in Christ. The candles are a symbol of Christ’s presence as the Light of life, and although it is not mandatory, the small gold cross given to the child to wear is also a sign of a life dedicated to Christ: with Him and in Him.  Oftentimes an icon of the child’s saint may also be presented to the parents. But these gifts are optional and only customary.

Are there special prayers which one is to say after receiving the Eucharist? My grandmother said that before we receive the Eucharist we are to make three prostrations and after communion we are to say five Our Fathers.

  1. Your Babusia was teaching you to be reverent and prayerful and that is excellent. However, her way of showing her piety is not Church teaching. Before receiving the Eucharist, at Divine Liturgy, together we pray the “Prayer Before Communion”:

I believe, O Lord, and confess that You are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first. Accept me this day, O Son of God, as a partaker of Your mystical Supper. I will not tell Your Mystery to Your enemies, nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief, I confess to You:

† Remember me, O Lord, when You come into Your kingdom.

† Remember me, O Master, when You come into Your kingdom.

† Remember me, O Holy One, when You come into Your kingdom.

May the partaking of Your Holy Mysteries, O Lord, be unto me not for judgment or condemnation, but for the healing of soul and body.

†  God, be merciful to me, a sinner.

†  God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me.

†  I have sinned without number, forgive me, O Lord.

After receiving the Eucharist there is no specific prayer we must say personally. Together we recite a verse from a psalm of praise (71:8) “May our mouths by filled with Your praise. . . “.

There are many prayers written for personal reflection after receiving the Eucharist. A few of the most traditional prayers are attached in a separate document.

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“Through her holy Dormition the world is given new life”

“Come, all you lovers of the feast, let us form choirs and fill the Church with our hymns in honour of the falling asleep of the Ark of God. Today heaven indeed opens its bosom to receive the Mother of the One whom the universe cannot contain. The earth gives back the Source of Life and receives the blessing of the Lord. The choir of angels and apostles look with awe as they see the One who gave birth to the Prince of Life now herself pass from life to life.”

  In our previous bulletin, we began addressing questions about baptism or, more fully, the rites (baptism, chrismation, and eucharist) of Christian initiation. Most of the questions can be answered only once we understand the nature of these sacraments, as was explained last week. Today we can address some of the specific questions.

  If an infant partakes of the Eucharist when they are initiated why then is there a “First Communion”?

  History, of course provides the answer. In the early church when someone joined the Christian community (adult or child) they were initiated into the community as full members and so received the Eucharist regularly. However, over time, in the Western Church the three sacraments were separated. In other words, a child would be baptised soon after birth (because death rates were high) and would not be chrismated (it is called confirmation in the West) until  a number of years later when a bishop would come to their town or village and then they would be allowed to receive the Eucharist. That “First Communion” came to be explained as the time when a child understands, i.e. the “age of reason”. Understandably, there was no strict rule as to when this occurred. In the Eastern Christian world the three rites were not separated and so we originally did not have a “First Communion” in our Church. However, in eighteenth century Halychyna, under pressure from the dominant Polish Roman Catholic Church, our Church underwent a period of what was called “Latinization”. This meant that gradually our Church adopted more and more practices of the Roman Catholic majority. One of these practices was to no longer give infants the Eucharist immediately after baptism and chrismation but to leave it for many years until we celebrated, as the Roman Catholics do, a “First Communion”. Since Vatican II in the 1960s we have been restoring many of our original practices which are consistent with our liturgy and spirituality. Because of the restoration of Eucharist at baptism the celebration at a later time focusses on the child’s first confession or reconciliation and “Solemn Holy Communion”. We mark this “solemn” event as the time when a person begins their personal relationship with God, no longer receiving the Eucharist simply “on the faith of their parents”. However, this was simply a way to incorporate the Latin practice to which our Western Ukrainian Church had grown accustomed.

  An ancient practice which is still common among our Orthodox brothers and sisters, but not so commonly practiced with Ukrainian (Greek) Catholics is baptismal tonsure. This cutting of four locks of the baptizand’s hair in the pattern of a cross was seen as a symbol of the baptizand’s willingness to accept the need to make sacrifices in their lives in order to follow Christ.

  Our traditions are beautiful and complex and it is wonderful to explore and explain their meaning, so if you have questions, please ask and let’s learn more about our Church and our traditions!

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May we have the courage to see God’s light in each other, in the strangers, . . .

You were transfigured on the mount, O Christ God,* showing Your glory to Your disciples as much as they could bear.* Make Your eternal light shine* also on us who are sinners,* through the prayers of the Mother of God** O Giver of Light, glory to You!                                     Tropar of the Transfiguration (tone 7)

 This week we celebrate the Gospel event after which our parish is named! And after two years of COVID, we can be together again as a community of “Transfiguration”. The Transfiguration is sometimes called the second Theophany because Peter, John, and James recognized their good friend as God: a carpenter alight with divinity!

  We, together with all humanity, together with all creation, can shine with God’s light! Christ has shown us the way and we respond with joy and gratitude! Our feast of the Transfiguration is a feast of thanksgiving.

 We bless these sacred fruits of the earth renewing our strength and commitment to be Christ’s light in the world—to be a transfigured community, illuminated by

God and illuminating the spaces we inhabit. 

  At this time our ancestors believed that our deceased loved ones could visit the earth. The blessed food was shared not only with friends, neighbours and the less fortunate, but even with the spirits of the dead.

  We pray that we may have the courage to see God’s light in each other, in the strangers, in the homeless and in those that may have never been shown a transfigured world, until they met us.

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 “All you who have been baptized into Christ, have put on the person of Christ”

I have received a series of excellent questions about baptism that I have often been asked. I will respond to them in a few bulletins. Let’s begin with some basics. First of all we need to clarify that much of what is being asked about baptism is not really a question about our faith, but rather about how we have come to practice our faith, and as I mentioned earlier, that means the practice is often affected by cultural (not faith-based) norms.

  1. So what does our faith say about baptism? During a baptism we sing “all you who have been baptized into Christ, have put on the person of Christ.” Here is the core of our baptismal faith. Through baptism we are united with Christ. But that unity comes in steps: rejecting a life without faith, recognizing that we are loved by God as revealed in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (water baptism), that through that recognition the Holy Spirit is gifted to us (Chrismation) so that we become members of the Church—the Body of Christ—and can receive the Eucharist, which is the ultimate sign of our union with the Father, through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit.
  2. But how does all this happen? By God’s action through the Church, the Body of Christ. Here we turn to history and historical practice. From the Early Church we know that baptism in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit was established as the action by which adults and children were marked as members of the Church and, most importantly, participants in the death and resurrection of Christ. We are all saved, united with God, because of the death and resurrection (this is the significance of Easter). In the Early Christian Community those being baptised entered naked into a “pool” and were immersed in the water three times (as a sign of Christ’s resurrection on the third day) as the bishop or presbyter proclaimed them baptised in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  So, initially everyone was baptised by immersion. Once out of the pool they were anointed with Chrism (Chrismation) and then could enter the room (the church) where they then could participate in the Eucharistic celebration.

Therefore, the answer to the first question of “best time” for baptism is cultural and personal and not prescribed by any Church rules. Of course, as people of Faith, we want to share the joy and love of our Christian community with our children as soon as we are able (whether at day 1 or year 2). When we participate in the Eucharist, why would we deny our beloved child this sign of God’s love? Most importantly we can ensure that we understand the significance of our sacramental rites so that we can always show our children that they are so loved by God.

Please send in your questions!  What do YOU want to know about YOUR Faith?