His Beatitude, Archbishop Sviatoslav’s first homily as head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is noted below. It is a very good homily focusing on the Cross and our acceptance of that life-giving Cross today. We have no other option as Christians. Pay close attention to what the new archbishop says: live, witness, strive for holiness, move closer to Christ today.
Christ, brothers and sisters!
Glory to Jesus Christ!
“We praise your Cross,
Lord, and glorify Your holy resurrection!”
With these words today, the Church
of Christ focuses on the Honest and True Cross. Today, as we pass the halfway
point of our Lenten journey, the Life-Giving Tree is given to us, that we might
find in it a source of strength and courage to go on to the Resurrection, to
put the Sign of the Cross at the center of our lives.
In his Epistle to the
Philippians, St Paul has left us a unique early Christian hymn that a young
Church, newly enlivened by the Holy Spirit, solemnly sang in its Liturgy.
Apostle calls to us this way:
Have among yourselves the same attitude that is
also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not
regard equality with God, something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in
appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a
cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of
those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (2:6-11).
In these words, the word of the Cross is central. Here, on the one hand, we see an icon of the earthly life of Jesus Christ — his everyday humanity en route to his death on the cross. But the Cross is the greatest moment of his humiliation, extreme humility and divine self-giving. In the second part of this hymn, however, we see Christ, who glorifies the Father. That from the death of the Cross begins the Resurrection — the praise and triumphant discovery of his divine glory, which is the glory of the Father.
As a disciple of Christ, every Christian who follows his Lord must witness in their personal lives to the effectiveness of his paschal mystery. Only in the celestial glory of the Resurrection can one enter through its only door, through His honest and True Cross. Our vocation is to follow the Savior to the end, even until the death of the Cross. His True Cross is the lowest degree of humility and obedient disgrace, but it is exactly the place from which the Father proceeds to raise him, that we might praise the divine glory which lay before the knee that bends in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
“We praise Your Cross Lord, and glorify Your holy resurrection!”
These words come as a special sound to us today! For us, the martyrs of the Church — which is true inheritor of the faith of the apostles — sing them in this Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection! Is this not an eloquent sign of God for all of us?
Our Church in the twentieth century has walked with our Savior to the end — until the total destruction, and seeming death, of their native land. However, the death of hundreds of thousands of our laity, priests, monks and nuns, led by our bishops, was death on a cross, and therefore the giver of life! Our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents thus make known to us, their descendants, and through us — a free Ukraine, the strength and invincibility of the Holy and the True Cross. In its slavery, humiliation and self-giving, our church was brought to this place: the place of resurrection, where the Father glorified it and raised up its imperishable glory, a glory that was there before it always, that every tongue, through the power of the Church’s testimony in the Holy Spirit, confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
“We worship Your Cross Lord, and glorify Your holy resurrection!”
For me, a young father and head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, these words are a result of their past and current meaning, and guidance for the future.
Today, we are heirs of Volodymyr’s Baptism, we feel the unity and continuity with our history and tradition, adopting the precious heritage of our great predecessors: Servant of God Metropolitan Sheptytsky, Patriarch Joseph [Slipyj], and Myroslav Ivan [Lubachivsky], and Lubomyr [Husar]. Today, these men, most cherished Lubomyr, bless us that we might make this treasure an alive and eloquent witness for the Ukraine of today. “Holiness united the people of God” is and will be the strategy of our Church.
She lives and acts as one body in the world, as the church, on a universal scale — it is the soul and will of the Ukrainian people to be made holy, to open its heart to its brothers and neighbors, to preserve our nation as people of God and lead it to salvation and eternal life.
Today we are experiencing a new spring of our Church, which in its resurrection by the Holy Spirit begins to get younger and smile anew to the world with the light of Christ’s Gospel. For her, the ancient and eternally new, sings psalms, saying: she “fills your days with good things, and renews your youth as the eagle’s” (Ps. 102.5). Today, especially on this festive day, let us realize anew that we are renewed and rejuvenated by the Church. So I want to especially appeal to our mostly still young clergy, religious, and the entire Ukrainian youth! Today, Christ calls us, the young, to account for His Church! Let us embrace it, put the Honest and True Cross of our Savior in the center of our lives and bring Him forward as Moses’ rod brought forward sweet water in the desert! Let us boldly carry out our Christian vocation in the world and together we can renew the face of our nation and its state.
“We praise Thy passion, O Christ, your appearance and your glorious resurrection!”