The Head of the UGCC in Stradch: “Don’t be afraid to be holy since only then we will be able to perform all other tasks of life”

Monday, 27 June 2016, 11:52
On June 26 there took place the All-Ukrainian Pilgrimage to Stradch, Lviv region, which occurred at same time with several important events in the life of the Church.


First and foremost, 15 years ago Saint Pope John Paul II visited Lviv and beatified 28 persons. Besides, on this Sunday the UGCC celebrates the Layman’s Day and prays to Blessed Martyr Volodymyr Pryima, the Patron of laymen.  As is known, on this day - 26 June 1941 - he and Fr. Mykola Konrad were martyred by NKVD agents when they were going to hear a confession of a sick woman. Also, on the first Sunday after Pentecost the Church venerates all the Saints.


Before the Divine Liturgy the Father and Head of the UGCC was met by the families whom God had granted parenthood through the prayers to the Stradch’s Mother of God. One mother, greeting the Primate of the Church, told that doctors did not give her any hope for motherhood: “We brought our prayers to the Mother of God of Unbreakable Wall through the intercession of the blessed martyrs of the UGCC Fr. Mykola Konrad and cantor Volodymyr Pryima. On this day we testify before you that the Lord had heard our prayers and blessed us with children. We ask for your blessing to be good parents and raise our children well. Bless all the Ukrainian families and especially those who due to various reasons do not have children yet but do not lose faith and hope for God’s mercy to receive this great gift.” His Beatitude Sviatoslav blessed the parents and children saying: “Congratulations on this great gift of parenthood. May He give you even more good gifts. May your children grow healthy and wise and may mother and father rejoice in them.”


At the Hierarchial Divine Liturgy headed by the Head of the Church, he was joined by: Metropolitan of Lviv Ihor, Metropolitan of Ternopil- Zboriv Vasyl, the Eparch of Sokal-Zhovkva Mykhailo, and Auxiliary Bishop of Ivano-Frankivsk Archeparchy Josaphat.


Saying the preacher’s word, the Head of the Church thanked the pilgrims that so numerously arrived at the place of the pilgrimage despite the hot day in order to be together in prayer and together glorify God and ask Him for blessings for our people. “This year’s pilgrimage takes place on a special Sunday. Today on the first Sunday after the Pentecost, the Church venerates the memory of all Saints, who in all times and in all countries were witnesses of God’s holiness. But what does it mean to be Saints?” – the preacher invited to reflection.


According to him, in the Old Testament the notion of holiness was completely different: “There was a huge precipice between the life of eternal God and the life of a human”. In particular, in the Book of Exodus when Moses started begging God: “Show me your glory!” – God replied: “You cannot see my face: for there shall no man see me and live…”


This precipice was overcome by God’s Son Jesus Christ. For example, Apostle Paul teaches that Christ in Himself ruined the wall which separated a man from God. “We received emergence of God’s glory when Christ died on the cross. We know it also by the fact that the curtain was torn in two in the temple and at once everything, which separated holy God from a sinful man, disappeared. God with His sanctity came into the life of a human. Even more, in the Descent of the Holy Spirit God filled a man and made him a temple of the Holy Spirit. Thus he entered into communion with God’s holiness. And today we worship those pious people who were bearers of His Holy Spirit”, - emphasized His Beatitude Sviatoslav in his homily.


In the preacher’s opinion, the most complete revelation of God’s sanctity is God’s mercy. So a holy man is considered someone who is full of God’s love, who with his life shares God’s love and mercy with everyone around. “The Fathers of the Second Council described the general call of Christians as the call to holiness. To be holy is the most important God’s task. But it does not mean that we have only to develop our human features of perfection. To be holy – means to reveal in the modern world God’s divinity in our personal lives”, he added.


Recalling the visit of St. Pope 15 years ago to Ukraine, the Head of the Church went on to say: “We, thinking now of the personality of the Pope, should remember his words: ‘to be holy – is possible for everyone of us’. Even in the contemporary world when people deny such a possibility, it is attainable to live in the fullness of divinity of God’s love. Do not be afraid to be saints because only then we will be able to carry out all other life tasks before us in our time. Then we will preserve dignity and virtue, inviolability of the borders of our Motherland and win the enemy who despite all God’s and human laws, is hostile to all that is sacred.”

From his point of view, the new martyrs of the Church proclaimed by the Pope are not only “our intercessors and supplicants, but they seem to give piety to our earthly spiritual life because they show that our temporal pilgrimage is only a moment in comparison with eternity.” We all are moving towards the end of our mortal lives and for this end to be the crown of eternal glory we must follow their footsteps. It is they who show us the route to holiness, to God, to truth, and to life.

In the end Metropolitan Ihor congratulated the Head of the Church on the 22nd anniversary of his priestly ordination which he received at the hands of His Beatitude Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky. “May God bless you with abundant spiritual gifts and good health”, wished the Metropolitan. 

Finally the commander of the 80th Separate Airmobile Assault Brigade awarded Fr. Ivan Koltun, pastor of the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother in Stradch and two volunteers from Chicago with breastplates – an insignia from the commander of the above-mentioned brigade for contribution to defense capacity and improvement of the material resources of this regiment.


The UGCC Department of Information


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