On the Second day of Pascha, April 29, 2019, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy and the President of the Consistory of the UOC of the USA graced the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul in Palos Park, IL with his humble visit.
Early in the morning, the white minivan of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary, making its way back to New Jersey after over a thousand-mile journey of Archpastoral parish visitations in the state of Michigan, Ohio and Illinois, pulled in front of the Church.
His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, accompanied by four seminarians Subdeacons Mykola Zomchak and Ivan Venhryn, Yurii Bobko and Ihor Protsak entered the temple to serve yet another Liturgy, celebrating Bright Monday of Pascha. At the altar, His Eminence was joined by Very Rev. Fr. Vasyl Sendeha, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul parish family. Assisted by numerous subdeacons and altar servers, His Eminence led the Divine Liturgy.
The choir’s joyful singing directed by Subdeacon George Cepynsky carried on the celebration. The Gospel was read from John 1: 18-28. In his sermon, Archbishop Daniel stated:
“…The Forty Days are over. We have joined the Lord in preparing for the momentous change. The Paschal Sacrifice is complete. The Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lamb of God has been carried out. The tomb is empty, Mary Magdalene. The tomb is empty, and now we remain.
The transformation has begun. The flowers symbolize the New Life that has come to the world. Jesus Christ lives! He is Risen. We live. We don’t just have physical lives. We have spiritual lives. The Father and Son have given their Spirit to all who have a living faith in Jesus Christ.
Still, we cannot and will not forget the events of Holy Week. The passion and death of our Lord are as much a part of us as His resurrection.
Brothers and sisters:Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the deadby the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.
This is from the Sixth chapter of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. It tells us that the Paschal Event is a living reality, one in which we participate. Evil has lost its grip on the world. The devil has been defeated.
We are united to Jesus Christ. The tomb is empty. But we remain. The Second Letter to Timothy tells us that if we have died for the Lord we shall live with the Lord. Back to Romans 6, we must think of ourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Soon we will be receiving the HOLY Eucharist. What is it that we are doing when we receive communion? We are taking the Lord within us, yes. But there is more than this. When we receive communion, we are one with Christ’s suffering and death. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes,” we read in 1 Corinthians 11. And we radiate the joy of the Lord. “I want you to share in our joy,” St John writes at the beginning of his first letter. We proclaim the death and resurrection of the Lord. We want the whole world to share in our joy. We need the world to share in our joy.
There are so many people who long for this joy. There are people who are suffering from insufficient food and medicine in Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, and, yes, in Ukraine and even in the United States.
When we, through our Church’s ability to care for the suffering people, give them food and medicine and the knowledge and tools to provide for their future, these people don’t just eat, nor are they just healed, - they experience the Lord present in the your generosity and ministry.
There are many poor people in Ukraine and the United States. Many of them are single mothers or single fathers. They wonder how they can care for their children with such limited incomes. When they experience members of the community reaching out to them, making sure their children are treated the same as all the other children, helping them when they need emergency baby sitting, etc, these people don’t just have immediate problems solved, they experience Jesus Christ present in their neighbors, friends and sometimes, in total strangers. Then they realize that there are no strangers in the Body of Christ.
There are many people who are facing serious challenges to their health, or worse, to that of one of the children. When doctors, nurses, hospice workers, and all medical personal care for them with the love of the Lord, the sick don’t just benefit from expertise, they experience the healing hands of Jesus Christ working through others.
There are many people who feel pushed to the fringe of society. Others seem to tolerate them, but don’t really accept them. But when they walk into a Church and people welcome them as members of the praying community, they realize that they are welcomed by Jesus Christ.
And there are those who have been devastated by sin, be it their own sin or that which was thrust upon them by others. Maybe they seem trapped in the gutters of our society. Perhaps substance abuse has forced them into self-destructive lives. Maybe they are in prison. Maybe they have committed crimes that merited punishment by society. There are many people who are convinced that they are drowning in evil. They wonder if there is any hope for them. When people reach out to them and tell them that Jesus died for them, and wants to share His Life with them, they find the Lord in those who radiate His compassion.
What does it mean to be an Orthodox Christian? Rites and rituals, beautiful liturgies, prayer groups and classes to help us understand our Lord, ministries for all ages, all these aspects of our faith are wonderful, but even taken together they do not make a person Orthodox or the Church Orthodox. We are true Orthodox when we are so united to Jesus Christ that His death and His life radiate through every action of our lives. You see, we are not Orthodox for ourselves. We are Orthodox for others.
The forty days are over. The transformation is upon the world. Jesus Christ has risen. But the tomb is empty. And now we remain…”
The Eucharistic canon served by His Eminence is a very humbling experience. The prayers over the prepared gifts weren’t just said, by His Eminence, they were prayed with sincerity of His heart. The parishioners of Sts. Peter and Paul were honored to receive the Holy Gifts form the hand of His Eminence.
The celebration then continued at the pastor’s rectory, where a lunch was prepared to honor the Second Day of Pascha. The sun was getting ready to go for a rest behind the tree spikes of the forest preserves as the parishioners and guests, wearied from all the excitement and joy, were leaving for home. It was truly a great day. The team of the seminarians along with His Eminence continued the Paschal journey by getting into the van, so they can stop for a a bit of rest, before the next stop - the celebration of the Third Day of Pascha at St. Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Pro-Cathedral Parish in Hammond, IN.
"Christ is risen! Indeed, He is Risen!" - was once again the Paschal theme of the Liturgy of Bright and Holy Tuesday, as St. Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Pro-Cathedral in Hammond, IN was blessed with the presence of the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA - His Eminence Archbishop Daniel. It was a glorious day and a moving Divine Liturgy in giving praise to our Lord and God for the Gift of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Resurrection with our archbishop, celebrating clergy, and the faithful!
The theme of Bright Tuesday’s Gospel is in the renewal of our allegiance to and a closer walk with our Lord and Savior the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Like the Apostles we hear about in this day’s Gospel, on the journey to Emmaus, they met and unknowingly walked with the Lord until they the realized how their faith was renewed stating “did not our hearts burn within us while He (Jesus) opened the scriptures to us?” We once again relived the events of the Day of the Lord’s Holy Resurrection and, likewise, our hearts burn once again within us as we heard the Good News and we worshiped the Holy Resurrection of our Lord and Savior. His eminence built upon this theme in part of his message to the gathered faithful: that we must each willingly choose to follow the Lord, walk with the Lord and build our faith in the Lord as we hear and read the Good News.
Then in faith and Love of our Lord we once again broke the bread of the Eucharist, like the Apostles with Him, that Resurrection Day and partook of Him, our Living Saviour. We, all walked away from this day, renewed, with joy, a “burning love” for our Risen Savior and the peace of the Lord in our hearts. And we look forward to serving with his eminence in the near future.
Sharing in the liturgical celebration at the altar were Very Rev. Fr. Raymond Sundland, pastor of the parish community, Very Rev. Fr. Vasyl Sendeha (pastor of Sts Peter and Paul UOC parish in Palos Park, IL), four seminarians - subdeacons Mykola Zomchak, Yurii Bobko, Ihor Protsak and Ivan Venhryn.
Then the time came for the archbishop’s word, and as he spoke, complete silence filled the pews. Even the anxious kids quieted down. Everyone was carefully listening as their spiritual shepherd preached about the reality of this world. His words were real. He spoke about life, real life. With inspirational words of encouragement, Archbishop Daniel was exhorting us to ponder upon the true value of human life and the virtue of love. He was exhorting us to incorporate Christ words into our lives. The virtue of true love ought to be practiced with great diligence among each other if we want to have peace and tranquility in our community, if we want to overcome all the tribulations in our relationships and in our lives.
In his sermon, Archbishop Daniel reflected on the mission of a parish in this modern secular world. His Eminence encouraged the faithful to live their Faith on a daily basis, confronting the false morality of the world with the acts of love and kindness that are based on the commandments of our Lord. He reminded them that they must see every other human being in the world through the eyes of God. When He looks at us He has proven to us the depth of love He has for us - to the point that He was willing to send His Only-begotten Son - our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to us. The faithful of the parish must BE CHRIST-like to all who need His presence, His truth, and His Love.
Over forty people approached the Holy Chalice and received the Most Holy Eucharist from the hands of the archpastor.Following the Liturgy, president of the parish’s board of administration Mrs. Anna Wozniak invited everyone in attendance to partake in the joyful Paschal luncheon at the local community restaurant.