UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Los Angeles, CA: Bishop Daniel Leads Services for Sunday of the Cross in St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Pro-Cathedral
On Saturday the 2nd and Sunday the 3rd of April, His Grace Bishop Daniel, the spiritual father of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA, led the Great Lenten services for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross in St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Pro-Cathedral in Los Angeles, CA.
Upon Bishop Daniel’s arrival to LAX International airport, Vladyka took a quick ride to another Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Los Angeles Metropolitan area – St. Andrew The First Called Apostle, where joined by the clergy – Very Rev. Vasyl Shtelen (pastor of St. Andrew’s), Very Rev. Yuriy Shakh and Very Rev. Vasile Sauciur, for an Akathist Prayer service that was prayerfully chanted by the clergy and faithful of the local community. Following the Akathist service, His Grace shared with those in attendance a short reflection on the importance of the Lenten journey in the life of a Christian.
With the arrival of Saturday morning, Vladyka Daniel, who was assisted by the pastor of the local parish family and Dean of Eparchy’s Western Deanery – Very Rev. Fr. Vasyl Sauciur, served the liturgical services of the spiritually uplifting weekend. In his sermon upon completion of the Sunday Liturgy, His Grace addressed the faithful with a word on the saving power of the Cross, which helps us to be closer to the Savior.
“The Cross is the mystery of God's love, not the mystery of suffering, but the mystery of the sacrificial love, self-burnt [offering]. Love is always a sacrifice, but a joyous sacrifice… Our God is the God of love who knows that with love, man, God, the angels and all of creation should serve one another and to rejoice in it. This is why the self-sacrificed love has been called for centuries the Lamb of God, sacrificed for our eternal salvation and us…
…Today we venerate the Cross of Christ to not only remind ourselves of the coming of His crucifixion and Resurrection, but to gather strength from it and to thank Jesus Christ for what He did for us on the wood of the Cross. Let’s ponder on the symbol of the Cross for a moment. What a profound paradox this symbol is. An instrument that was used to kill people on becomes the instrument of salvation. It was through this instrument that Christ died, but it was also because of this instrument that Christ was able to defeat death, to rise on that first Pascha, and to open for us the gates of paradise…
Concluding his sermon remarks, Vladyka Daniel, quoting St. Ephraim the Syrian: “…The Cross is the resurrection of the dead. The Cross is the hope of Christians. The Cross is the staff for the lame. The Cross is comfort for the poor. The Cross is the deposing of the proud. The Cross is the hope of those who despair. The Cross is food for the sailors. The Cross is haven for the bestormed. The Cross is the father for orphans. The Cross is comfort for those who mourn. The Cross is the protector of children. The Cross is the glory of men. The Cross is the crown of elders. The Cross is light for those sitting in darkness. The Cross is freedom for slaves, wisdom for the ignorant. The Cross is the preaching of prophets, the fellow-traveler of apostles. The Cross is the chastity of maidens, the joy of priests. The Cross is the foundation of the Church, the establishment of the universe… The Cross is the cleansing of the lepers, the rehabilitation of the enfeebled. The Cross is bread for the hungry, a fountain for the thirsty…
Therefore on the forehead, and on the eyes, and on the mouth, and on the breasts let us place the life-giving Cross. Let us arm them with the invincible armor of Christians, with this hope of the faithful, with this gentle light. Let us open paradise with this armor, with this support of the Orthodox faith, with this saving praise of the Church. Neither in one hour, nor in one instant, let us not forget the Cross, nor let us begin to do anything without it. But let us sleep, let us arise, let us work, let us eat, let us drink, let us go on our way, let us sail on the seas, let us go across the river, let us adorn all our members with the life-giving Cross. And let us not be frightened 'by the terror of the night, nor by the arrow that flies by day, nor by anything roaming in darkness, nor by any calamity, nor any noonday demon' (Ps. 90:5, 6). If, O Christian, you will always take up the Cross of Christ on yourself as a help, then 'evil shall not come towards you, nor any scourge come near your habitation': for the opposition power seeing it trembles and leaves."
Following the liturgy, those in attendance approach the image of the Cross (with the relic of the true Cross of Christ in it) for veneration. Every time a child approached the stand with the cross, Bishop Daniel gently lowered the image if the Cross of Christ and explained to children the spiritual significance of the image of our salvation.
Later in the afternoon His Grace shared in the Lenten luncheon with the faithful of the parish community. Without any formal program/presentation, Vladyka Daniel had plenty of time to visit with over 100 faithful that remained for the luncheon, often resting with them at the their tables and offering words of spiritual direction yet listening to the needs of the congregation and answering their questions.
On Monday afternoon, following a short prayer visit to St. Volodymyr’s pro-cathedral – the spiritual father of the Western eparchy of the Church departed once again for LAX International airport in order to return to the spiritual Center – Metropolia of the UOC of the USA in South Bound Brook, NJ.
Sunday of the Cross in Los Angeles, CA - 04/03/16
Photos by Seminarian Mykhaylo Bokalo