Christians are the ones whose lives witness that Christ is risen from the dead, through their attitude to the world, to material things and to one another. They also witness to the fact that goodness, life and God’s love are stronger than hate, evil and even death!
We know that Lent is a time of introspection and reflection, a time to take inventory of ourselves, as it were, and where we stand in relation to God and the world we live in.
Lenten Church services and Liturgical readings guide us in this direction as a community, but at the same time we can also focus on our personal communication with God: our personal prayer.
Today marks the mid-point of Great Lent and we venerate the Holy Cross. The Cross is a reminder of the immensity of God’s love demonstrated in the person of
Jesus Christ who accepted death on the Cross, but through God’s love was raised on the third day.
Ця неділя, хрестопоклонна знаменує собою середину Великої Чотиридесятниці (Посту). І в цю неділю наша увага звернена на превелику Божу любов котра виявилася в особі Ісуса Христа котрий віддав своє життя за Божу правду та водночас любов Отця воскрес Його на третій день!
As in previous years, through the proclamation of the Word of God and catechesis we hope to deepen our experience of repentance and return to God.
During Great Lent, as a result of the efforts of the inter-eparchial network, … , various sectors of the population have the opportunity to hear the truth not only about the place the Creator has given us within creation, but also what a great evil “ecological sin” is—that in transgressing God’s creative plan—multiplies the suffering of Jesus in the world imprisoned and plundered by sin.
(Interview with Fr. Oleh Kindiy, Professor at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv – continued)
Many people we interviewed replied that they believe in God but they don’t need a “middle man”. Others go to church when it’s empty. Still others attend for certain “rituals”: baptisms, weddings, or funerals. The majority generally don’t consider Church as community.
This is because, for instance, we teach catechism to children but only rarely in parishes do we have catechetical programs for adults. The Early Christians knew well that Church was a place to continuously deepen our faith, but we today have yet to recognize this. In terms of knowing God, there are no boundaries. On the other hand, at times people demand something from the Church, but when they are invited to, for example, a Parish Bible study, or a group to discover the beauty of the Byzantine Liturgy, they won’t take that next step; few respond to the additional offerings of their church.
The following is from an interview with Fr. Oleh Kindiy, Professor at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv
People who attend Church don’t always consider themselves a part of a community. It’s easier for them to think of the Church as the priest or choir, ie: something beyond themselves. Doesn’t this remove personal responsibility?
I often ask people what percentage of the Church is made up by the clergy: priests, monks, bishops etc. The answer is between 30-50%, suggesting that lay people are only a segment of the Church that is primarily constituted by clergy. They are surprised when I tell them that clergy make up less than 1% of the Church. Lay people do not realize that they are the majority; they expect the priest to do everything: gather people and assign jobs for each to accomplish.
Sometimes people say their own prayers during Liturgy …
These people aren’t feeling their role in the community event that is Liturgy. They simply have not grasped what is taking place at the Liturgy and naturally they would want to spend that time doing something that is spiritually engaging …
What is the meaning of other Services in our Church, besides the Divine Liturgy?
In our rite, we have a great number and variety of services. Each has its own worth. Too often, we make the mistake of measuring other liturgies as “less than” the Divine Liturgy.
Each liturgy is a glorification of God. We sing various biblical texts, hymns, chants—thus achieving the pinnacle of human ability; the celebration of God.
There is no more important celebration on the Christian calendar than today: the feast of the Lord’s resurrection. Among the many, many words that have been spoken and written about this day, none surpass those of the 4th century, St. John Chrysostom (who is credited as the author of our regular Divine Liturgy. His homily is traditionally proclaimed every Easter.
Let all the pious and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward …
What if at Liturgy there are 200 or 300 strangers around me? How am I supposed to celebrate?
One might disagree, but I say that at Liturgy it makes no difference if people know each other or have anything in common – because the fact that they are present for the Divine Liturgy forms the link between them. This is what we have in common.
We may not recognize this because we usually emphasize psychological aspects of relationships. In order to relate to someone, to show love and kindness, I need to know that person pretty well. Certainly. But the Liturgy leads us to a higher level of awareness of what it is to be human, and what it means to relate to each other. We are united by the ineluctable fact of our humanness, our baptism, our being loved by God.
But are some sections of the Liturgy more important than others?
No. Absolutely not. I’m not a fan of the (sadly) popular approach of dividing the Liturgy into more or less important segments. Because the Liturgy is a totality in itself and every separate section makes sense only in relation to the whole. If you fragment the unity then everything falls apart, shatters, and we cannot understand what is there.
The Gospel reading, the offering of the gifts, the eucharist, the dismissal, as much as the singing, the incensing of the priest—everything—is absolutely essential.
And for that matter, that we celebrate the Liturgy …
(Supposed to be celebrating)