November 29, 2017


The theme that the Vibrant Parish movement adopted for 2018 takes its lead from the most recent Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church that dealt with the liturgical life of the Church and the Church's prayer-life in general. The Second day of the coordinators' conference now under way in Madrid, Spain dealt completely with this theme.

The day, as every day of the conference, began with the Divine Liturgy at 7:45 AM in the large chapel of the "La Cerca" retreat centre. Fr. Teodoziy Hren', OSBM, who was chosen as the designated preacher for the whole event, preached a homily to the theme of the Gospel reading of the day. [Fr. Teodoziy preaches twice daily - at the Divine Liturgy and at evening Vespers].

Most Reverend Benedict Aleksiychuk, MSU, the Bishop of Chicago was the main speaker for most of the day. He is the head of the Patriarchal Commission on Liturgy and therefore was the natural choice to speak to the theme of both the Bishops' Synod in September and the 2018 theme for Vibrant Parish - "The liturgical life and prayer life of the Church". His knowledge of the subject matter and his personal love for liturgy and prayer made day pass all too quickly. There was time for discussion following the for major sessions throughout day leading right up to evening vespers. He especially stressed three principal points that he wants the coordinators to take back home to the eparchies that they represent. His hope is that all the eparchies and that each member of the Church would focus on establishing and enhancing: 1. Common Prayer (Спільна Молитва) every evening at 9:00 PM*, 2. Parish Prayer Groups (Молитовні Групи), and 3. Knowledge of the Faith (Знання Віри).

Bishop Benedict began by presenting a synthesis of all the talks and presentations given at the 2017 Synod of the Ukrainian Catholic Bishops in early September. He then gave the delegates an extensive overview of how he sees the prayer and liturgical life of the Church. This included hopeful aspects, some challenges and areas where a whole renewal would be needed. He also familiarized the coordinators with the many materials that are now available to them to realize the enhancement of liturgical and prayer life within the Church. Much of the amazing aids are still available only in Ukrainian, but versions in English and other languages are in the works and will soon be available. Some of the information is in printed format and some is available in various electronic versions on line - some of the publications are available in both. Much is found on the website of the Patriarchal Liturgical Commission [CLICK HERE]. The Patriarchal Catechetical Commission also has a considerable amount of ideas and prepared materials to bring to life personal or parish prayer life - for example a prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture. In the fourth part of his sessions, Bishop Benedict offered what he felt would be the solution to revitalize the Church's prayer life in the societies in which our eparchies are found around the world. He, of course, acknowledged that each region of the globe would require a slightly (or greatly) different approach. He did stress that this difference of approach should not be overly stressed, as God is the same for everyone and people (i.e. human nature) are the same everywhere. If we work toward a healthy relationship with our Lord and those around us (Matthew 22:36-40) then we will get our prayer life right…

Before a late supper (9:00 PM) the day ends (as always) with Vespers. It is truly a powerful moment. If one can imagine a chapel filled with strong voices that sing with confidence and sing with the whole soul…. A truly "transcendent experience" if there ever was one. This is surpassed only by the Eucharistic Liturgy in the morning…

To be continued…

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