UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Archpastoral Palm Sunday Visit to St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, OH!
On the Sunday before the Feast of Great and Holy Pascha and at the beginning of Holy Week, the Orthodox Church celebrates one of its most joyous feasts of the year. Palm Sunday is the commemoration of the Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem following His glorious miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. Having anticipated His arrival and having heard of the miracle, the people when out to meet the Lord and welcomed Him with displays of honor and shouts of praise. On this day, the Orthodox Christians receive and worship Christ in this same manner, acknowledging Him as our King and Lord. To celebrate this great feast of the Church year St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, OH was blessed to welcome among their midst their spiritual father and the ruling hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA – His Grace Bishop Daniel.
The bishop, assisted by the seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary Mykola Zomchak, Mykhaylo Bokalo and Ihor Protsak, arrived to Parma, OH on Friday night, as faithful of the parish family ended their Lenten journey and were spiritually entering into the observance of Lazarus Saturday as well as the festivities of Palm Sunday.
Very Rev. Fr. John Nakonachny and Very Rev. Fr. Michael Hontaruk, clergy of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox cathedral greeted the bishop on behalf of the parish board of administration as well as the faithful of the parish family. His Grace delivered a powerful sermon in both Ukrainian and English languages, in which he stated: “…Today we celebrate together one of the great feasts of the Church calendar- the feast of Palm Sunday. Today we gather together to celebrate Christ’s entry into the city of Jerusalem. Today we celebrate Christ as the king who enters our own personal Jerusalem - our hearts. Today’s feast day is a momentary feast of joy and celebration, because tonight we begin the final leg of our journey towards Pascha. Our mood changes from one of joy this morning to one of solemnity, almost of sorrow this evening as we reflect upon the great sacrifice that Christ performed for us on the cross.
“…For Orthodox Christians around the world, we celebrate these events as they happened not only in the past, but as they also happen today. We celebrate Christ as the king who enters our hearts, our own personal Jerusalem. But is Christ able to enter? Is there room in our hearts for Christ to rule as king? Often the doors of our hearts are locked. Often Christ is unable to enter because there is already another king of the heart - ourselves. And how do we solve this problem of trying to let Christ in? How do we instill within ourselves the one thing that is missing- God?
The answer is to surrender. Surrender to the will of God. Surrender your life to the one who gave you life. The only way to find peace, to find true happiness, to experience true love is to surrender yourself to God, to make Him your king, to live in total communion with Him. And the way in which we turn our hearts from the kingdom of the self into the kingdom of God is through constant daily prayer, reflection, and meditation, frequent Holy Communion, frequent Confession, reading and understanding the Scriptures. So many people complain that they can’t find time to come to Church, they can’t find time to pray and read the Scriptures, they can’t find time to fast, or go to Confession and Holy Communion. The reason they don’t have time is that they are slaves to their own selves, to their own will…”
“…Today, as we receive our Palm branches at the end of the Divine Liturgy, let us take them to our homes and place them somewhere where we can always see them. Let the Palms remind us that Christ is the king of our families, that Christ is the king of our hearts. And if we do proclaim Christ as our king, let us try and make time for Him in our daily life, let us be reminded that He is the one with whom we will be spending eternity. Let us be reminded that our education, our finances, our homes, all of the basic material needs in our lives are only temporary. Let us prioritise and place Christ the king as the primary concern in our lives. It is only when we have done this that we will find true peace and happiness in such a confused and complex world...”
Palm Sunday brought hundreds of faithful, both young and old, to celebrate this feast together with their bishop. Many received the Holy Mysteries of Confession and Eucharist in preparation for the Feast of Feasts – Pascha – in a week. Moreover, the faithful of the parish family were treated to the presence of the icon of the Venerable Fathers of the Monstery of Kyiv Caves (16th century) and twelve relics of various saints of the same monastery.
Each parishioner, holding in their hands the palm branches, received a blessing from their bishop with the sprinkling of Holy Water, thus blessing the branches and prayerfully imitating the biblical act of the Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem.
The day concluded with a memorial program for the repose of the lost souls of Chornobyl Nuclear Disaster, which occurred 30 years ago on April 26, 1986.