СВЯТА ВЕЛИКА П'ЯТНИЦЯ в Українському Православному Соборі св. Володимира в Чікаго, ІЛ
On Great and Holy Friday, the most solemn day of the liturgical year, parishioners, relatives and members of the community at large gathered in St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, IL, for a solemn witness of the sacrifice of the Lord in order to participate in the Vespers service, at which the Holy Shroud is brought out of the sanctuary and placed in the midst of the faithful for veneration.
From the homily by Archbishop Daniel, recalling the cross as the central and most widely known symbol of Christianity for 2,000 years, to the evening Vespers liturgical services, the cross and sacrifice of Christ drew in eyes, hearts and minds of those in attendance.
On this holy day, the faithful commemorated the death of Christ on the Cross and His burial, with the spiritual father of the cathedral community and the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, who was assisted by the pastor of the parish’s community Very Rev. Fr. Ivan Lymar as well as Very Rev. Fr. Mykola Lymar, Protodeacon Andrii Fronchak, Deacon Myrolav Mykytyuk and the seminarians of St. Sophia Seminary. The liturgical services of the day are the culmination of the observance of His Passion by which our Lord suffered and died for our sins. This commemoration begins on Thursday evening with the Matins of Holy Friday and concludes with a Vespers on Friday afternoon/evening that observes the veneration of the shroud.
The hierarch led the Vespers service on Holy Friday, on which from the early years the Church observed an annual commemoration of the decisive and crucial three days of sacred history, i.e., Great Friday, Great Saturday and Pascha.
Great Friday and Saturday have been observed as days of deep sorrow and strict fast from Christian antiquity. Great Friday and Saturday direct our attention to the trial, crucifixion, death and burial of Christ. We are placed within the awesome mystery of the extreme humility of our suffering God. Therefore, these days are at once days of deep gloom as well as watchful expectation. The Author of life is at work transforming death into life: "Come, let us see our Life lying in the tomb, that he may give life to those that in their tombs lie dead"(Sticheron of Great Saturday Matins). Liturgically, the profound and awesome event of the death and burial of God in the flesh is marked by a particular kind of silence, i.e. by the absence of an Eucharistic celebration.
In his remarks, the archbishop directed the attention of the faithful to the profound and awesome event of the death and burial of God in the flesh, as it is marked by a particular kind of silence.
"One the cross we see the love of God. On the cross we see the mercy of God on the cross we see the grace of God," said Vladyka Daniel. “On this day, we see the Son of God Himself, hanging on the cross on account of our sins. We are not only witnesses to the Holy Passion of our Good Savior, but we become participants in the story of our salvation. At this moment, by His death, the Lord has redeemed us from our sins. The Lord has also cast the final judgment over, Satan, over sin and over death. He has declared them powerless before His almighty throne…”
“…The events of Good Friday are about Jesus being condemned, crucified, bled and died. The Cross is the great paradox of Christianity. More than a few people have asked me over the years why the Holy Orthodox Church focuses so prominently and persistently on the Cross of the Lord. Behind the events of crucifixion is what gave the Lord the greatest agony, namely, the denial by those He taught and healed and the deliberate denial and betrayal by Apostle Judas and Holy Apostle Peter, by His disciples. Imagine what the Jesus felt, when He saw Peter in spite of his earlier promises to do so, declined and denied the Lord. What a suffering?
Even Apostle Peter, while much loved by the Lord, and having been privy to the exchange regarding Judas, still doesn’t seem to get it! Like Apostle Peter, we often see only what Judas did but fail to realize that we deny and betray Him in so many ways: we doubt some of His teachings and pick and choose them, we deny Him our time – we have time for everything but for God. Jesus is worth more than billions but Judas sold him on discount at 30 pieces of silver. Like Judas we sell Christ Jesus at a discount when we equate him to humans and prefer human laws to the laws of God, when we receive the Holy Eucharist without properly confessing our sins, when we are ashamed to talk about Him before our relations and friends or pray in a public places…”
His Eminence continued: “...Good Friday, the day on which Christians remember the death of Jesus on the Cross, challenges all our reasons for everything we do, all the motivations we claim for any action. Great and Holy Friday has that healthy and necessary aspect that is found in many faiths, of a time for self-examination.
As I look at the images of war in Ukraine and in other parts of the world - I am struck by the savagery and bitterness, the utterly perverted reasons, of the attackers and perpetrators, carrying out not right deeds but the most deeply wrong ones that could be imagined, and the contrast with the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. He was the one person in history Christians believe to have had only pure motives for all He did, and for me He sets the standard for both actions and reasons.
The nature of hatred is that it is infectious. Terror wins when it causes others to fear or hate. On Great and Holy Friday terror and oppression are met by love, with Jesus praying for the forgiveness of those who caused his death. Christians, considering the Cross, see God crucified because of human cruelty and sin.
The mystery of the immense savagery of human beings, of our desire to use power to harm not heal, is one that confounds all attempts to explain it away. The depth of the grip on us held by lust for power, and the desire to dominate others is judged by the Crucifixion. Before it, we are confronted with our wrong reasons and actions.
But I find myself also confronted with the love of God that goes deeper than our cruelty, of God’s reaching out to us that goes beyond our pride and power seeking. On this day, in this week, I find hope because for me at the end of all things God is over all…”
Vladyka Daniel invited everyone to enter into the mystery of the tomb of Christ, putting our hopes and prayers at His feet, so that we can come out on Pascha morning and proclaim to the world that the Lord has Risen!
In conclusion, Archbishop Daniel stated: "Let this night be a time for all of us, individually and together to revitalize our spiritual life and to involve ourselves more in the life of our parish community and the world around us!"
Photos by Seminarian Mykola Stefanyk and Olena Lymar