UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Bishop Daniel Visits Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bensenville, IL!
The congregation of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bensenville, IL welcomed His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy and President of Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA on Trinity Sunday to celebrate their Patronal Fest Day.
The Episcopal visit began on Saturday, as Bishop Daniel met with some members of various parish organizations and inspired them to continue on their path of improvements that were set forth in the Parish’s Strategic Plan for the future. He encouraged the local parish Sisterhood to continue their work for the benefit of the entire congregation and for the upgrades to the new Church building. He also challenged the parish family to do what they can to encourage the entire local Metropolitan Chicago area community to put their Faith in practice through various charitable deeds that the parish family can undertake.
The following morning, with the procession to the temple, Vladyka Daniel was greeted by the parishioners with the traditional bread and salt and with the children presenting him flowers. Very Rev. Fr. Bohdan Kalynyuk, pastor of Holy Trinity UOC then greeted His Grace asking him to lead the parish family in the Divine Liturgy. Then they proceeded to the center of the temple, which was decorated with green throughout for the feast. The Liturgy of Holy Pentecost, the Great Feast of the Holy Trinity, was then served in full hierarchical fashion with the hymnody of Pentecost flowing throughout the Church. The parish’s choir prayerfully chanted the liturgical responses.
In his homiletic message after the Gospel, Bishop Daniel gave an inspiring message in which he exhorted that people that we must be examples of our Christian faith from the greatest things like sacrificing the greater things in life for another even unto smallest things, like letting people in front of you in line, or being courteous and thoughtful in daily matters. In conclusion of his sermon, the bishop reflected upon the Great Feast of Pentecost:
“Ten days after the Ascension, 120 followers of Jesus were gathered in Jerusalem. In obedience to the command of the Lord, they were waiting and praying for the promise of the Spirit. They may have been very eager for the expected gift, but they were also very fearful. They were meeting behind closed doors.
By law, all Jews living within twenty miles of Jerusalem had to attend the Pentecost feast in Jerusalem. To their number were added the thousands of other Jews from neighboring districts and countries. About a half-million people would have been in the Holy City for the event of Pentecost that Holy Evangelist Luke records in Acts of the Apostles.
“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, ‘Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language?’ ” (Act 2:1-8).
The Holy Spirit comes down on the disciples on the very day when the Jews are celebrating the gift of the Torah (the Law) on Mt. Sinai. With the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, Israel entered into a covenant. With the gift of the Holy Spirit on Mt. Zion, the Church becomes God’s people through the New Covenant.
According to rabbinic tradition, on the fiftieth day (pentecostos) following the Exodus from Egypt, God gave the Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai. The Torah was written on the tablets of stone by “the finger of God” (Ex 31:18; Deut 9:10), that is, by the Spirit of God (Luke 11:20 - Matthew 12:28). On the fiftieth day after Easter, God gives the Holy Spirit, the perfect law of liberty, not written on stones, but within our hearts (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Pentecost changes the disciples. No more fear. No more division. No more closed doors. They pour into the streets and preach the gospel and they are understood. Three years earlier, St. John the Baptist had predicted, "One mightier than I is coming. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (Mk 3:6.8) The prophecy is now fulfilled.
Fire burns away what is useless. Fire refines what is noble. Fire melts the cold and unites the divided. On Pentecost, the fire of the Holy Spirit purifies and refines, unites and inspires the hearts of the disciples. As one Church united in faith, the disciples of Jesus burn with love for the Lord and the desire to share him with all.
When Evangelist Luke speaks to us in Acts about the tongues of fire (Acts 2:3) at Pentecost, he connects what takes place in Jerusalem with what took place on top of Mt. Sinai in the desert in the time of Moses. The Jewish Hellenistic writer Philo explains that God’s words at Sinai came first as flames which then became words and voices. These words from God were divided into seventy tongues of flames--i.e. the tongues of the 70 nations. God’s voice at Sinai separated into tongues of flame that went throughout the earth, so that all nations could hear: “I am the Lord your God … you shall have no other gods before me”(Ex 20:2-3).
On Sinai, according to rabbinic tradition, God’s Word was heard by all the nations, but only Israel responded and became his people. With the gift of the Holy Spirit, God’s word is now heard and understood by all. What astonished those who witnessed the Pentecost event was not so much that those filled with the Holy Spirit were speaking in so many tongues. Rather it was the fact that when the disciples spoke, those present heard and understood them in their own language (Act 2:18).
Thus what began on Mt. Sinai with the formation of the God’s People comes to completion in the Paschal Mystery on Pentecost. The Church is born. She transcends the boundaries of nations and the divisions of man.
The Holy Spirit, who is the love of God poured out into our hearts (Rom 5:5), opens our hearts and makes them capable of understanding other people. Human pride always creates divisions. The Holy Spirit draws us together. Individualism throws up walls of indifference and separation. The Holy Spirit breaks down barriers and unites. Selfishness breeds confusion. The Holy Spirit creates communion.
The Holy Spirit makes us the dwelling-place of God, the holy temple. He brings about the one change for which the world longs. He makes us, so diverse, one from the other, members of His Church. Pentecost is truly the feast of hope for humanity…”
The Bishop truly preached an illuminating sermon on the Feast of Pentecost and then celebrated Eucharist with the local congregation and parishioners from various Metropolitan Chicago area Ukrainian Orthodox parishes. Representatives of other Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic communities joined the parish family for the festivities.
Afterwards, a splendid feast on the feast was prepared in the hall. Much help went into the preparations and it was a satisfying meal. Bishop Daniel then circled the tables talking to the faithful as lunch wound down. The Holy Spirit was present with fervor in the visit of the Hierarch, being able with gratitude and joy to celebrate this most important Feast of the Church with a sense of the presence of the early Church in our midst.
We gratefully thank Vladyka Daniel for his loving pastoral care over his priests and parishes, and look forward to his next visit to Bensenville, IL.