January 8, 2017


      The famous Leo Mol statined glass windows radiated brightly on evening of January 6th, 2017 at Winnipeg’s Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of Sts. Volodymyr and Olha on McGregor Street. Cars were arriving and clergy and faithful made their way through the crisp winter night to the Cathedral – hurrying not so much because of the cold, but with joyful anticipation of the amazing experience they were about to have (and yes, as in every year, there would be standing room only for those who did not come early enough to secure one of the only 1000 seats available).
       The evening started at 10:00 PM with the traditional Great Complines liturgy that has the whole congregation exultantly singing out, “З НАМИ БОГ!” “GOD IS WITH US!”. This concluded with the LYTIA symbolic blessing of bread, oil, wine and wheat asking the Lord to provide food for all people here and throughout the world and reminding ourselves to help provide that food as best we can.
       Following the Great Complines, Metropolitan LAWRENCE Huculak began the Hierarchical (Pontifical) Christmas Divine Liturgy by blessing the four corners of the earth praying the Lord to, “visit this vineyard and bring it to perfection”. The Cathedral Choir, lead by Myroslava Paches, began with a majestic singing the most famous of Ukrainian Carols, “БОГ ПРЕДВІЧНИЙ”, “GOD PRE-ETERNAL” and then went on to sing the responses to the Liturgy with a grace and perfection that transported the every member of the congregation, heart and soul, to that first Christmas on the edge of Bethlehem where Shepherds, Angels and Magi joined in singing the praises of God having come into the world.
       The Archbishop of Winnipeg, Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak, OSBM, presided at the Liturgy and was joined by a number of priests who were able to come. Aside from the rector of the Cathderal, Mitred Archpriest Monsignor Michael Buyachok, there were other eparchial clergy as well as representatives of the two major Religious Orders that have their national administrations in Winnipeg – the Basilian Monks and the Redemprorist Fathers. Proto-Deacon Stefan Tyrawski served throughout the Liturgy.
       Even with five priests distributing Holy Communion, quite a number of carols were sung before everyone that wanted had an opportunity to come forward. But no one even noticed as the joy of the event raised the heart, soul and body of everyone present.
       Following the Divine Liturgy Metropolitan Lawrence and other clergy gave everyone the festal anointing of MYROVANNYA, blessing each person and wishing them a truly merry and fulfilling Christmas celebration.
       Much of the Ukrainian Church continues to celebrate Christmas – the Nativity of the Christ – according to the Julian Calendar in which Christmas (December 25) now falls on January 7th. There is a movement in Ukraine (even on the government level!) to move Christmas to December 25th to celebrate the holiday with Western Europe and most of the world. However, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church feels that such a decision must be made together with all Churches that still maintain the Julian Calendar for their religious feasts – both Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches. .....In then mean time… we in Canada enjoy celebrating CHRISTMAS…. Twice!
After the Divine Liturgy and the anointing… it wasn’t all over yet! Everyone was invited to the Cathedral Parish Hall for a mini-concert of Carols and Christmas greetings performed by the Choir, again under the Direction of Myroslava Paches. All the while the guests enjoyed a wonder spread of Ukrainian Christmas favourites including - “Pompushky” – donuts filled with plums or poppy-seed.

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