Sharon, PA: Archbishop Daniel Leads Services for the Sunday of the Cross at St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox Church
On Sunday the 19th of March 2017, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, 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. St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Sharon, PA. He was accompanied by the seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Bound Brook, NJ) Subdeacons Mykola Zomchak and Mykhaylo Bokalo, as well as Hryhorii Matviiv and Tadei Surak.
Upon the entrance to the parish temple, Vladyka was greeted with flowers by two of our children, Marcia Goodge and Marienna Hassier. Adrienne Hassier presented the hierarch with the traditional bread and salt, and Fr. Andrew Gall, pastor of the parish community, presented the Archbishop with the cross and holy water as he welcomed the spiritual father to St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox parish.
The choir, directed by Donna Worona, sang as Vladyka entered the church. Altar servers were Subdeacon Joseph Novicky, Sam Googe, Matthew Worona, Caden Hassier, Charles and Markie Ames and the seminarians who accompanied His Eminence. The Epistle was chanted by a seminarian Subdeacon Mykola Zomchak.
His Eminence’s sermon was exceptional in that it was inspirational to everyone in attendance: “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…
Let us ask ourselves the question, what does the cross mean to me? When it is mentioned, do we think only of the first Good Friday and the hill outside Jerusalem? Is it no more than a historical fact that happened nineteen centuries ago? Unless we see it as a principle of everyday life, a way of living, of voluntary self-giving, we miss its practical meaning for us. The cross is not laid on my shoulder by another, or by accident. It is not imposed from without, but voluntarily assumed from within. It is going the second mile, doing more than conditions require. That impossible person at your place of work, grimly endured, is not your cross, Only when you meet his insults with, “Father forgive him,” do you become a cross-bearer. The monotony of housekeeping is not your cross. You take it upon yourself only when you do your work gladly, as unto God and your family.
The Bible, containing the great ideals of Christianity, would be only another book unless we Christian people embody its teachings and interpret it by living lives which conform to the Divine will of God. It does not help any of us to boast of our heritage, the beauty of our services. It does help us to search ourselves, and make an honest endeavor to live worthily, to ride above the temptations which we encounter on the highways and byways of life. Christ died unto sin once so that He might live unto God. Life is the opportunity God invested and entrusted us with in order to give Him the primacy, the first place in our hearts. The days, months and years are slipping by fast, bringing us nearer to the time of our departure, our flight from this world, when we take our leave of absence from this world and our spirits migrate to the place prepared for us by the Master. Therefore, we must face facts about the kind of conduct we are manifesting to the world. Our character and conduct result from either sound or phony faith. Professional or ceremonial belief in Christ could not stand the test. Sound living, victorious faith, and appreciation of the Master’s death in our behalf will enable us to live above the world, the flesh and the devil. The early Christians minced no words in telling us that, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Either a day of judgment or a day of joy will be awaiting us when we shall stand before the Judge of all the earth. It will be, according to Jesus, either a resurrection of life or a resurrection of damnation.
What should be our response to Jesus’ sacrificial love? Our response would be reflected in our attitude toward life, and toward all human beings as a whole. If our attitude toward people is one of honest sympathy, understanding and love, if we live sacrificially, giving of our time and means toward the elevation of humanity, living lives that have for their purpose putting God first, and the affairs of His Kingdom are given the preeminence, then it may be truthfully said that we know whom we have believed, we have a clear vision of the Man upon the cross.
The early Christians went through the Roman world telling people about a man who had been crucified and who rose from the dead. It was an arresting item of news. At first the listener would be shocked, but as the story unfolded and its meaning became clear, new hope and joy lighted up his face, for he found in this old story of the Galilean Peasant nailed to a cross a satisfying view of life. It turned a flood light on the mystery of human existence; it revealed the secret of living triumphantly over the things that get people down; it satisfied the age-old hunger for life beyond the grave.
The striking thing about this good news was that the road to life unending led by way of the cross. By giving your life you find life. By answering evil with good, hate with love, the world’s worst with your best, you rise with Christ from the dead! You and He were as One!
At the conclusion of the service, as every person approached the cross in the middle of the church for veneration, Vladyka presented every small neck crosses to each of the faithful and encouraged us to follow in Christ’s teachings. Moreover, the parishioners were encouraged by their hierarch to approach the reliquary with the relics of 48 saints of the Holy Orthodox Church, which was brought to St. John’s by the Archbishop from the spiritual center – Metropolia of the UOC of the USA in South Bound Brook, NJ.
The local chapter of the Ukrainian Orthodox League provided a Lenten meal. His Eminence took time to meet with and talk to as many of the parishioners as possible. The parish was surprised and honored to learn that Seminarian Tadei Surak was celebrating that day his 25th birthday.
Julia Ames made a very delicious Lenten cake for this event and the UOL presented Seminarian Tadei with a wooden cross that was made by our reader of Blessed Memory, Jack Backer.
As the afternoon hours of the day came to conclusion, Archbishop Daniel with seminarians departed for the Metropolia Center in NJ promising to return once again during the summer period.
19 березня 2017 року, у Неділю що зветься Хрестопоклонною, архієпископ Даниїл, пралячий архиєрей Західної Єпархії УПЦ США очолив урочисту Божественну літургію святителя Василія Великого у парафії святого Івана Предтечі в місті Шерон, ПА.
Богослужіння відбулось за участі прихожан, гостей, молоді та діток. Його Високопреосвященству співслужив настоятель протоієрей Андрій Ґал.
Після закінчення головної частини літургії архієпископ Даниїл звернувся до присутніх із недільним словом настанови. Владика розповів про величну та поміжну для людини силу і благодатну дію Хреста Господнього, закликав вірних усім серцем вшановувати Древо Христове, а також цінувати жертовну любов Розіп'ятого на Ньому.
Звершивши богослуження та поклонившись хресту, Владика Даниїл побажав вірним, аби святе Знамено Перемоги стало для кожного ключем до спасіння та здобуття Царства Небесного Божого.
Archbishop Daniel Leads Services for the Sunday of the Cross - 03/19/17
Photos by Seminarian Hryhorii Matviiv