UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete
By Subdeacon Vasyl Pasakas
During the first four days of Lent (Feb. 27, 28, 29 & March 1) the penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete was celebrated at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church, the spiritual center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (as in most Orthodox churches around the world).
Very Rev. Fr. Yuriy Siwko, Very Rev. Fr, Mykola Filyk and the student body of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Bound Brook, NJ celebrated with His Grace Bishop Daniel the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, a service during which all present in great humility make numerous penitential prostrations, praying: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, have mercy on me!”
There is no other sacred hymn which compares with this monumental work, which St Andrew wrote for his personal meditations. Nothing else has its extensive typology and mystical explanations of the scripture, from both the Old and New Testaments. One can almost consider this hymn to be a “survey of the Old and New Testament”. Its other distinguishing features are a spirit of mournful humility, hope in God, and complex and beautiful Trinitarian Doxologies and hymns to the Birth-Giver of God in each Ode.
A canon is an ancient liturgical hymn, with a very strict format. Typological examples of sin and repentance are brought into high relief, interspersed with the entire congregation singing “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me!” accompanied by prostrations.
The canon is a dialog between St. Andrew and his soul. The ongoing theme is an urgent exhortation to change one’s life. St Andrew always mentions his own sinfulness placed in juxtaposition to God’s mercy, and uses literally hundreds of references to good and bad examples from the OT and NT to “convince himself” to repent.
In his remarks, following the chanting of the Canon, Bishop Daniel stated that “the Great Canon was written by a holy man to teach himself the right way to live. We cannot benefit from it unless we make it a priority to stand in prayer, in the church, and listen to it, with a great desire and expectation for God’s grace to teach us and heal us. Our theology is first and foremost – experienced and prayed, and not only “studied”.
During the first few days of Great Lent and in the spirit of the Lenten journey, His Grace Bishop Daniel visited Holy Ascension Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Maplewood, NJ for the celebration of the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts, accompanied by Protopresbyter Taras Chubenko - the Dean of NY/NJ Deanery and pastor of St. Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Carteret, NJ; Very Rev. Oleh Hucul – pastor of Holy Ascension UOC parish in Maplewood, NJ; Rev. Fr. Ivan Synevskyy – pastor of Ukrainian Orthodox Church in South Plainfield, NJ; Deacon James Cairns of St. Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Carteret, NJ; Protopresbyter Peter Hotrovich and the seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian orthodox Theological Seminary.