Paschal Letter of the Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada – Easter 2011

6 April 2011, 13:38 | в | 0 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

“Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem! For the glory of the Lord has shone upon you”.

Reverend Fathers, Venerable Sisters, Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ – Faithful of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada,

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is risen!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With a warm and sincere heart we greet you all on the occasion of the joyful and illustrious Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord. We send out this joyful news to all – young and old, men and women, the healthy and the sick, the clergy and the laity. May this day be for each of you a new day of spiritual elation and growth.

During the festal Divine Liturgy in all our churches we solemnly, and usually in many languages, proclaim the Prologue to the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1-2). This “in the beginning”, in Greek en archê, evokes the first word in the Bible, in Old Hebrew bereshith: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). This verse is read in our tradition during Vespers and Liturgy of St. Basil service on Holy Saturday. So, on the one hand our liturgical texts direct our attention towards the creation of the world, and with it towards the first Adam and his fall. But on the other hand we see the Risen Christ – a new beginning, a new creation, the New Adam, who opens for us the gates of paradise.

This year, as we celebrate the Pascha of our Lord, we would like to invite you to reflect on this aspect of newness, which is one of its essential characteristics. Note how during Easter Matins we sing about “a new drink”, and about “a new fruit of the vineyard”, and how in joy we call out to the New Jerusalem: “shine, shine!”, for the Lord’s glory is upon us.

The prophets announced this new reality: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31) and “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). And also “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17).

Christ’s teaching is marked by signs of this new reality: “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (Mark 1:27). “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins” (Luke 5:37-38). In the Book of Revelations we read: “And I (John) saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (21:2). And Saint Paul appropriately reminds us today: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).

Even though our Lord Jesus Christ began preaching the Good News almost two thousand years ago, it remains ever new, fresh and always youthful. The Bride of Christ, which is the Church, is renewed continuously, from generation to generation. She always receives new members, and allows her older sons and daughters to remain young as children of God. With just a tiny openness to God’s work the Lord raises the fallen, heals the sick, cleanses the defiled, so that we might dedicate ourselves to the building of the Kingdom of God with renewed vigour. And if someone tells you that there is nothing new under the sun, do not believe them, for with in our Lord’s Pascha all is renewed for those, who live according to the Spirit of God. Certainly you can sense this in celebrating the feast today!

Most recently we, Your Pastors, were ourselves convinced of this. As you are aware, in the month of March during the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church a new Patriarch was elected, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shewchuk. Possibly some may be surprised that we elected such a young Head and Father for our Church. But we are convinced that the Holy Spirit guided us in this way, to remind us that the One, who sits at the right hand of the Father continuously exclaims: “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelations 21:5). We ask you to not forget our Patriarch-emeritus Lubomyr, for we know that he will be remembering us in his prayers. We remain ever grateful to him for his blessed and wise leadership, and for his noble and youthful spirit of love for our Church and people.

And together with our new Patriarch Sviatoslav, let all of us be new and young in spirit. As we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord, let us recommit ourselves to working in our parishes and communities with renewed resolve and energy. And to all our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and throughout the world we wish every blessing and joy from above.

The blessing of the Lord be upon you all!

Sincerely Yours in the Risen Lord,

+ Lawrence Huculak, OSBM, Metropolitan Archbishop of Winnipeg
+ Michael Bzdel, CSsR, Archbishop Emeritus of Winnipeg
+ Michael Wiwchar, CSsR, Bishop Emeritus of Saskatoon
+ Severian Yakymyshyn OSBM, Bishop Emeritus of New Westminster
+ Cornelius Pasichny, OSBM, Bishop Emeritus of Toronto
+ David Motiuk, Eparchial Bishop of Edmonton
+ Stephen Chmilar, Eparchial Bishop of Toronto
+ Ken Nowakowski, Eparchial Bishop of New Westminster
+ Bryan Bayda, CSsR, Eparchial Bishop of Saskatoon

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