Homily of His Beatitude SVIATOSLAV on September 9, 2012
14th Sunday (Julian Calendar) Hierarchical Divine Liturgy
Metropolitan Cathedral of Sts. Volodymyr & Olha
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Slava Isusu Khrystu! Glory to Jesus Christ!
Your Grace, Metropolitan Lawrence, thank you for welcoming me to your Cathedral of Saints Volodymyr and Olha. It is a pleasure to be with you today.
My Dear Brother Bishops, those of you from Eparchies across Canada, as well as those who have traveled from afar to be here today.
Your Graces, Archbishop James and Archbishop Albert of the Roman Catholic Church.
Dear Metropolitan Yuriy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, thank you for your fraternal presence.
Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, Venerable Sisters, Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
On behalf of all the members of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, I would like to express to you our greetings, congratulations and best wishes on the celebration of the centennial of the appointment and arrival of Blessed Martyr Nykyta Budka, the first bishop for the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada!
I would like to emphasize three very important reasons why this celebration is so important.
First, with the arrival of Blessed Nykyta as bishop, we celebrate the formal establishment of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada under its own hierarchy, with its own pastoral structure and Eastern Christian identity. In the person of its first bishop, our Church was able to be fully present for those faithful, who until then were deprived of their own Pastor.
Secondly, Blessed Nykyta was able, as bishop, to defend and speak on behalf of the Ukrainian people in Canada. Our people did not have any formal representation at that time. His was a unique social and political voice at the beginning of the last century.
Thirdly, as our first bishop in Canada, Blessed Nykyta became a unifying figure among Ukrainians in Canada, separated as they were by the great geographical distances of this magnificent land, which became their new home.
In today’s Gospel reading we heard Jesus tell the parable story of the wedding banquet prepared by the King.
It was the common practice of the prophets of old to explain the relationship between God and humankind in terms of family relations and social events. The prophet Isaiah exclaimed: “For as a young man marries a virgin, … and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62, 4-5). Through the wedding banquet of a king our Lord illustrated for us the meaning of God’s revelation. A wedding feast is not just about eating and drinking, or sharing in the riches of the king. Participation in a wedding banquet represents friendship, a sharing of heart and mind with the king, a sharing of his very life.
We understand that the King who prepared the banquet is our Heavenly Father, who is willing toshare with humankind his one heavenly kingdom. The son for whom the King prepared the wedding banquet is the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is Jesus, who came into our world in order to take unto himself the Church as His Bride, so that all humankind might participate in the joy of God the Father and in His love for us. Christ, by taking a Church as his mystical Bride, made us part of an immortal and heavenly family (quote 1 Cor 15,49 “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”)
In every Divine Liturgy, which is the Sign of a New Covenant, in the Sacrament of Eucharist He shares His own eternal life with us, so that we might find the happiness of those who are able to inherit His heavenly kingdom. As we read in the Book of Revelations: “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:9). Blessed and chosen are those who do not disregard the invitation, but come and receive their inheritance in Christ.
The parable ends with a final meeting between the king and the invited person who appeared at the feast without a wedding robe. Those who neglect the invitation not only offend our Heavenly Father, rejecting and neglecting His love, but in doing this, they deprive themselves of eternal life.
We as the Synod of Bishops have come to Canada for the first time. We are like those servants whom the heavenly Father sent out to call everyone to participate in the banquet of the heavenly kingdom. We proclaim to you that the Heavenly banquet of our Father celebrating the wedding of the Son with his Bride, the Church, has been prepared today and is being given to us by the Holy Spirit in this a special centennial celebration. Come and receive the gift of eternal joy and life!
As we are gathered here today for the celebration of this Divine Liturgy, we are, in fact, participating in the banquet of the heavenly kingdom. We will receive spiritual nourishment in the heavenly food offered here, the Word of God just proclaimed, and the Eucharistic feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.
As St. Augustine explains, the banquet represents the reality of the Church. In the Church not only saints and those who are perfect are brought before God, but also sinners and deeply flawed people, who through baptism receive their wedding garment, and through reconciliation are given the grace to keep their garment clean and pure. The wedding garment represents holiness. Being members of the Church means to respond to that call to Holiness. Although none are worthy, nevertheless, by Divine grace we become inheritors of the heavenly kingdom, sons and daughters of the heavenly Father. All this takes place through the mystery of the Incarnation, Death and Resurrection – the Son of God becomes one of us, so that through the Holy Spirit we might become children of God.
As we celebrate this Divine banquet today and remember the hundred years of Ukrainian Catholic Episcopal service in Canada, our Church would like to renew that banquet invitation, calling upon everyone in this country: Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians, those who are of Ukrainian ancestry and all people of good will, welcoming them as sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father.
If those among us in the Ukrainian community disregard this invitation, we can be sure the banquet hall will not be empty. Someone one else will come and sit at the Lord’s table and prove themselves worthy of that invitation.
But it is our sincere hope that through our presence here today, as your bishops from around the world, you will respond in a positive way to this invitation to renew your faith, to rediscover the spiritual treasure of the Ukrainian Church especially in Canada, to live a good Christian life, to grow in holiness, and to pass on to the future generations a faith that is truly vibrant and life-giving.
Today, I feel especially embraced by the brotherly affection of His Grace Metropolitan Lawrence, together with all of the clergy, religious and laity who have prepared and are participating in these celebrations. Your invitation to come here was received with great joy.
We bring greetings to you from the whole Ukrainian Catholic Church worldwide. Today the eyes of the millions of faithful are turning to Winnipeg and joining us in prayer. And all are united with us on this day, gathered at the same messianic banquet of our Lord in countless cities, towns and villages, wherever our Church is found.
In this special moment of fellowship and communion, we invite you to experience the unity of our Church. You are members of a great family of God, a family which remembers you, loves you, is willing to support you and asks for your support. May the Holy Spirit be the gentle wind filling the sails of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada, as she journeys through seas both stormy and calm. And may that same Spirit, who renews and restores the Christian faithful, bring renewal to each Ukrainian parish community and religious community here in this country.
Through the prayers of the blessed martyr Nykyta Budka and all the saints of Canada and Rus’-Ukraine, …may the Grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you!
N.B. During his homily His Beatitude, of course, also spoke in Ukrainian. The principal theme which he shared in Ukrainian consisted of significant quotes from the historic message of the saintly Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky of Lviv, who wrote a lengthy pastoral letter to the Ukrainian Catholic faithful in Canada in 1911, a year before Blessed Nykyta was appointed. The extensively quoted part of the letter was from the concluding section, sub-headed as: “Be Good Citizens.” The original Ukrainian text used by His Beatitude (with some at-the-moment adaptations) is given below, as well as an English translation…
Будьте Добрими Горожанами Митрополит Андрей, Пасторальне Послання «Канадським Русинам» 1911.
Будьте також вдячними для краю, котрий Вас прийняв і дав Вам можність нового, ширшого і лучшого, життя. Будьте добрими горожанами Канади, будьте правдивими, щирими і добрими Канадийчиками. Не забувайте бесіди, яку Вас діди і прадіди передали в спадщині. Держіться всіх добрих старих руських звичаїв. Не встидайтеся ані руської мови, ані руського обряду, голосно признавайтеся до того, що Ви русинами, лиш старайтеся поступованнєм своїм з’єднати і собі, народови поважаннє і славу у людей. Ані наш обряд, наша бесіда не перешкаджає Вам в нічім бути добрими, прив’язаними до краю і о добро краю дбалими горожанами Канади.
Жиєте під панаваннєм короля Англії, будьте ж для него щирими і добрими підданими. Жиєте під свобідною і мудрою управою краєвого і провінціональних правительств. Шануйте ж управу і устави Канади. Виконуйте також всі права свобідних горожан; беріть уділ в життю публічнім і політичнім. Розвагою, солідарністю, сильними пересвідченнями і прив’язаннєм до святої віри можете з’єднати руському народови і славу, і силу. Не лишень для себе, але і для цілої Канади можете примнажати дочасного добра, бо чесна праця кождого горожанина є добром цілого краю, а праця публічна і політична має на оці передовсім загальне добро всіх, а на другім місці – добро кождого з окрема.
А у всіх працях і змаганнях перед всім старайтеся о поміч з неба, не забувайте, що “всяко даяніє благо й всяк дар соверен свише єсть, сходяй от Отца світов” (Як. 1,17). В Божих руках ціла наша будучність, в Божих руках наше щастє і наше життя. З Божим благословеннєм і Божою ласкою можемо всьо осягнути, а без Бога ніколи до нічого не дійдемо. Любім Єго, служімо Єму вірно, щобисьмо колись могли оглядати безконечну красоту Єго лиця і могли з ангелами і святими Єму славу, честь і поклоненнє возсилати, Отцю, і Сину, і Святому Духу, нині, і присно, і во віки віков. Амінь.
Be Good Citizens From the 1911 Pastoral Letter of Metropolitan Andre “To Canadian [Ukrainians]”
Be also grateful to the country that received you and gave you new and broader opportunities and a better life. Be good citizens of Canada, be true, sincere and good Canadians. Do not forget the counsel that your grandfathers and ancestors gave you in patrimony. Preserve all good old [Ukrainian] practices. Be ashamed neither of the [Ukrainian] language nor of [Ukrainian] customs. Boldly acknowledge that you are [Ukrainian], but try by your comportment to bring to yourself and your people respect and admiration among the populace. Neither our observance nor our counsel hinder you in any way from being good and devoted to the country or of being citizens concerned for the good of Canada.
Live under the rule of the King of England; be for him sincere and good subjects. Live under the free and wise administration of federal and provincial governments. Respect the rules and regulations of Canada. Also, fulfil all the rights of free citizens; take part in public and political life. By your recreation, your solidarity, by your strong witness and adherence to the holy faith, you can bring to the [Ukrainian] people acclaim and strength. Not only for yourself, but for all of Canada you can increase the temporal good, because the honest work of every citizen is a benefit for the whole country, while public and political work has as its aim above all, the general good of all and, secondarily, the good of each individual.
In all works and endeavours seek, above all, help from heaven and do not forget that, “every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17) Our entire future is in God’s hands. In the hands of God are our happiness and our life. By God’s blessing and by the grace of God we can achieve everything, but without God we will never accomplish anything. Let us love Him, let us faithfully serve Him, that one day we will be able to gaze upon the eternal beauty of His face, and, together with the Angels and Saints render Him glory, honour and worship, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now, always and in the ages of ages. Amen.
Translator’s note. See: Mytropolyt Andrej Sheptytskyj, Pastyrs’ki Poslannja 1899-1914 (Lviv: Artos, 2007), pp. 722-767, esp. pp. 766-767.