Every second Saturday of the month, 4 pm - Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ. Followed by refreshments.
Next Liturgy: Saturday 13th May, 4pm
To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.
To purchase the Divine Praises, the Divine Office of the Byzantine-Slav rite (in English), order from the Eparchy of Parma here.
The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Friday, 26 September 2014
Bombing jihadists in Syria could make life worse for Christians in the region, the Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo has warned.
Archbishop Boutros Marayati told the missionary news agency Fides that Syrian Christians did not consider those conducting the raids to be “liberators”.
"People here do not have a clear view of what is going on,” he said. “The prevailing sentiment is that the raids will not solve the problems, and may even increase them. The uncertainty that everyone lives every day increases even more. A question fathers and mothers of families ask themselves is whether it is still possible to remain or if the only salvation is to escape," he said.
Meanwhile the Catholic charity Pax Christi International urged the United Nations to look for non-violent solutions to the expansion of the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS).
Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa, and Marie Dennis, Pax Christi International co-presidents, and José Henriquez, the organisation's secretary-general, told the Catholic News Service that the air raids could serve to boost IS’s recruitment.
"We believe that especially the expansion of bombing is more likely to create significant recruiting bonanza for some of the extremist groups, ISIS included," Ms Dennis said.
Commenting on the situation in Iraq, Bishop Dowling said that the US invasion of the country in 2003 proved that war and violence was not a solution.
“We are now reaping the fruits of the fact that there wasn't an inclusive political, social response," Bishop Dowling said. He went on: “So we've got to find other ways, non-violent ways, inclusive ways."
Meanwhile Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope's secretary of state, told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that terrorism "did not provide licence to meet violence with violence” but, in the words of St John Paul II after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, “must be exercised with respect for moral and legal limits in the choice of ends and means”.
In addition, Parolin said, the international community must address the root causes of terrorism, which included social and economic inequality.
"Young people travelling abroad to join the ranks of terrorist organisations often come from poor immigrant families, disillusioned by what they feel as a situation of exclusion and by the lack of integration and values in certain societies. Together with the legal tools and resources to prevent citizens from becoming foreign terrorist fighters, Governments should engage with civil society to address the problems of communities most at risk of radicalisation and recruitment and to achieve their satisfactory social integration," he said.
People of faith have a "grave responsibility" to condemn those who used faith to justify violence, he added.
In the UK, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on Wednesday said he would recall Parliament, and MPs will vote on Friday on whether to join in US-led military action against IS. The Cabinet is meeting today to discuss plans for air strikes. Addressing the UN in New York today Mr Cameron, said that the UK was "ready to play its part".
Read online: The Tablet - News
Sunday, 21 September 2014
- Why are some countries, especially those of the region where there has been bloodshed because of the crimes of Islamic State and other similar groups, apparently excluded from the anti-Islamic State coalition?
- Why are not all Arab countries joining this coalition?
- Furthermore, why wouldn’t Arab countries be first to unite solidly to form an effective frontline coalition to fight these takfiri groups?
- We believe that a united Arab stance would be most effective in achieving that objective.
- A united and coherent coalition would be a landmark in history, especially for Arab countries, providing very clear and solid evidence for the predominantly Muslim Arab countries being really entirely and unambiguously against those various takfiri movements.
- A united and cohesive Arab coalition would be like a badge of honour for the monarchs and presidents of Arab countries and a wonderful moral example for young people who are expecting such a stance.
- In that way all Arab countries with their nations and armed forces united in purposeful solidarity, would rise up to eliminate these takfiri parties and tendencies.
- This stance of Arab countries would be the setting for the genuine, real, moral, social, cultural victory of faith over these currents, because such an attitude is more powerful than weapons.
- We turn to the muftis of Arab countries, patriarchs and other leaders of Christian Churches to join their voices to this united and consistent stance.
- Such a united Arab stance would reassure the region’s Christian and other faith communities about their future and constitute clear and firm evidence that living together, based on citizenship and respect for others and their religion is possible, and that Arab countries are resolved to establish secular states and create developed Arab institutions founded on human rights, including especially freedom of worship, religion and conscience, and citizenship with equality of rights and duties for all.
- So the Arab world, with its Muslim and Christian civil and religious leaders, would provide an exemplary model for moral values for the whole world, resulting in the international community’s joining in this united Arab stance to achieve this objective.
- We call upon our churches to raise prayers for this intention. From 22 September until 22 October we shall be holding a series of services in all Damascus’s churches in turn, with a service at 6p.m. every day in a church of a different denomination. The first service will take place in the Melkite Greek Catholic patriarchal cathedral on 22 September at 6 p.m.
The first inter-denominational or ecumenical service will be held at 6:00 p.m. on September 22nd at the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate in Damascus.
There will be daily prayers at 6:00 p.m. from September 22nd until October 22nd, 2014.
We invite all our readers to join us as we pray for peace in the churches of Damascus.
We suggest the following:
A Prayer for Peace in Syria and Assistance for its Refugees
Almighty and merciful God, grant that just as you made yourself known to Saul on the road to Damascus, you may soon convert hearts to peace in Syria, and that its people who have fled may soon return to their homeland.
We ask your blessing on those who, like your Son, have become refugees and have no place to call their own; look with mercy on those who today are fleeing from danger, homeless and hungry.
Bless those who work to bring them relief; inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Friday, 19 September 2014
|The Russian Army tries to force Eastern Catholics of Pratulin|
to abandon communion with the Apostolic See of Rome
The Patriarchate's anti-ecumenical agenda manifests itself in its attempts to place wedges, at the ecumenical table, between Catholics and Orthodox, between Western and Eastern Catholics, and to refuse to recognize Eastern Catholics at all, just as the Kremlin (true to a centuries-old imperialistic politik) adamantly refuses to recognise the Government of Ukraine, or even its existence as a nation.
Sunday, 14 September 2014
Patriarch Gregorios: After the visit to Christian Valley and while flying to the Witness Summit in Washington
While spreading hope and joy in Christian Valley I could not help noticing the profound suffering of displaced persons. Though they are safe where they are, they are labouring under the weight of cares, afflictions and very painful memories concerning their homes, relatives, possessions and their own and their children’s future.
Today my fellow Patriarchs and I are flying to Washington on this gruelling journey to the United States.
My feelings are mixed! On the one hand I am content to be on the way of the cross along with our countries, parishes and fellow-citizens. We bear the sufferings and expectations of them all as the Second Vatican Council affirms, and as Saint Paul said so eloquently. All are pinning all their hopes on the Church. Did not our Lord Jesus tell us, “Do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 13:11)
Yes, let the Spirit speak in us! I hear what the Lord God is saying within me! He speaks peace for his people and his elect. His salvation is nigh for the one who fears him. “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Ps 84:10 LXX /85:10)
My contribution before the greatest power among the nations is meant to be a spiritual witness in favour of peace in our region: its security, and living together among the various constituents, especially the young! This is a common responsibility. The Church is an integral part of that society and we have a common responsibility in the face of so much suffering and tragedy. We make up part of this tragedy and we also represent a part of the solution. I should like to recall here a threefold sentence proper to the medical team that works in a hospital in Germany and which is helping me complete the projected building of a hospital between Damascus and Daraa in the native village of my mother where the Apostle Paul stayed for three years after his conversion at the gates of Damascus.
Here is the slogan:
Who? if not us!
Where? If not here!
When? If not now!
I’ll be using this slogan effectively in this great country where great decisions are made. I am putting this slogan to the West with love and trust. And I’m also putting it to the East, our Arab countries, kings, princes, state presidents and heads of government….
I’m really very hopeful that the patriarchs’ voice may be heard as was the prophets’ and sages’! Our visit and participation represent an historic step in the annals of the Church. Today the Church, more than any other society, entity, institution or organisation bears this responsibility, and, as patriarchs, we ought to continue our initiatives at every level, knocking on every door : of hearts, to change the inclination of States and international organisations. Yes, the Church must offer every sacrifice, take every step regardless of cost for it represents the roots and foundations of Christian and Muslim Arab society.
It is called to bring about peace in the region in order to be worthy of the Beatitude shown by its Master and Founder among peace-makers, the One who is Prince and King of Peace: “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.” May it be a peace-maker like its Master and gather into one the children of God scattered abroad.
This is the greatest and most sublime goal of all the mysteries of our Christian faith: the incarnation. Jesus, the Word incarnate, said, defining the goal of his incarnation and coming into this world: “I am come that they (everyone) might have life and might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
That is the role and story of the Church. That is still its message today!
Fear not little flock the great role that is yours, for the welfare of all humanity!
The unified and harmonised voice of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs who share a common vision has as its goal to be the trigger for a global and really ecumenical Christian consensus on the East. Thus the Church’s voice will be one both in the East and in the West: the Holy Father and the Catholic Church through its bishops’ assemblies, the Orthodox Churches, the Anglican and other reformed Churches. Let us promulgate a joint spiritual declaration that highlights the Church’s role in the current existential crisis. That is a special challenge and unique opportunity for the Church to act in favour of peace in the predominantly Muslim Arab East. So it shows its role and vocation to Eastern society. This can only strengthen the Christian presence, role, vocation and involvement in the East so as to give Christians the strength of conviction to remain anchored in the Middle East, cradle of Christianity.
From our history, culture and lived, shared experience, the Churches must walk in step to broaden their sphere of action to reach the spiritual leadership of our Muslim brethren too, so that the patriarchs and muftis and ulema of Arab countries can meet and work together to reflect on the current crises and tragedies of our Arab world, especially on the development of fundamentalism, terrorism and takfirism as they have recently appeared. Let them draw up reports and action plans to remedy these situations. That would be a providential opportunity and historic step which has to be undertaken together.
Recently I sent a letter on this subject to the muftis of Arab countries and I trust that they will react positively to it.
Here is a road-map inspired by Christian and Muslim faith and it is a fundamental stage towards a unified strategy based on a single vision.
As patriarch with the title of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem and with residences in Damascus, Beirut, Cairo and Jerusalem I have experienced in a special way the tragedies associated with the Arab Spring in Egypt and Syria, Gaza and Lebanon. Our faithful are facing a fire that is consuming the region: it burns and destroys, kills and terrorises. I have witnessed their sufferings and on 20 August we visited those who had taken refuge in Erbil, far from the ethnic cleansing of the Islamic State.
Faced with this dramatic reality that we are experiencing in the East, I am launching an existential appeal: we all in the Arab world, to whatever denomination we may belong, are facing a single historic challenge: “to be or not to be.” As our great singer Fayrouz said after Jerusalem was taken in 1967: “Love has withdrawn and the world’s heart has been consumed by war.”
That is my deep fear! Here is my appeal that I am making with a broken heart in this Washington summit. I trust that my cry will reach your awareness and heart in your assembly, congress and organisations!
Save the Arab world ! Save the Arab East! with all its constituents, ethnicities and confessions. Put the fire out! It’s at your door!
As Pope Francis said when he visited Jordan on 24 April: peace in the Middle East has two keys : a real peaceful solution in Syria and justice in the Palestinian case.
In the East we shall succeed in overcoming this identity crisis. Our perseverance in living together (despite difficulties), as we have done throughout our long history is the only warranty for safety and well-being in the Middle East, and even for the West (Europe, the United States) and Australasia. Light comes from the East. From the East which has given the light of faith, in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, there comes and is fulfilled the salvation of the world.
Join us on the march of Christian faith, charity and hope!
We are praying for you to be peace-makers: may the peace of Christ be in your hearts, minds, souls and countries.
On board the plane to Washington, 8/9/2014
+Gregorios III Laham
Saturday, 13 September 2014
Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Beginning of the Indiction - Homily at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, London
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family of London, 1 September/14 September 2014
1 Corinthians 1.21-2.4 - Matthew 22. 2-14
At the height of the Christian Roman Empire, the great legal reformer Emperor Justinian, issued a decree (that is, an indiction) to ensure that everyone use a common dating system for contracts, official acts and legal documents. This had the remarkable consequence of moving the date of the imperial new year from its date from time immemorial - the Birthday of Augustus, pagan founder of the Empire, on September 23rd - to September 1st.
You will recall that St Luke describes how the Birth of Jesus took place in the context of another administrative decree from that very same Caesar Augustus, at a time which St Paul identified (Galatians 4.4-7) as “the fullness of time”, when there was peace throughout the known world of the Empire. So it is significant that, by the mid sixth century, the prestige of the founding Emperor was no longer common ground for the citizens of the Empire, or part of its identity. Instead, it is Jesus Christ himself. To this day, September 1st is the first day of the monthly Calendar for the Byzantine Churches of the Christian East. It remains programmatic for us all, because September is still the beginning of our academic and school years, and all of us feel the new working year really begins after the summer, with the burden of work to be done with the coming of the season of the harvest. This is reflected in the chants for today, which celebrate the bounty of God’s providence towards the people in the fruits of the creation: “Fashioner of all creation,” we sing in the Troparion for today, “Bless the crown of the year, O Lord, with Your goodness…”. Recently, September 1st has thus become for a large part of the Byzantine tradition a day of celebration and prayer for the environment, its careful stewardship and protection.
But today is also Sunday, a day when we think not only of this world, and its chronology and destiny, but of the Kingdom that is to come. In this Sunday’s Kontakion, in praising Christ our God, we go one further than this creation to the next: “With Yourself … You raised the dead and shattered the sting of death, and delivered Adam from the curse, O Lover of Mankind”. As St Paul reminds us, we set our affection on the things that are above, and not the things of the earth, because likewise we have died and our life is hid with Christ, in God (Colossians 3.2). In other words, we have to be whole people, leading holistic lives. Just as we are not complete persons if we live only with our material preoccupations, ignoring the human dimension that is spiritual, our soul; so we cannot live in the Resurrection of Christ, which became our defining characteristic when we were baptised in him, if we withdraw ourselves from the physical fact of the world and the body, as though they do not exist.
We have a clue to managing this seemingly impossible dual identity of ours - being citizens of the Kingdom of God, at the same time as active participants in the bountiful, beautiful and hopeful world he has created - in the words of today’s other observance, the feast of St Symeon the Stylite, of whom we have sung: “Seeking things above, you joined yourself to those on high; you made your pillar a fiery chariot, through which, O venerable one, you became a companion of the angels. With them, unceasingly implore Christ God on our behalf.” (Kontakion of St Symeon). Living in the company of the beings of heaven, he was also dwelling into advanced old age in the world, facing God at the same time as being seen by people, inspiring them and never forgetting to intercede for them.
We can put it another way. The great country, blues, and Gospel singer Johnny Cash captured an old saying, when he wrote a song about people who let their own light shine, without shining the light for others; who go to stand on the spiritual high ground for themselves, but don’t take the hands of those reaching to be lifted up there too. He sings, “You’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good” (The Rambler, 1977). This is precisely it: Christ wants it that, the more heavenly minded we are, the more earthly good we will be.
We can put it another way still. In today’s Gospel, we have the extraordinary tale of the guests who are too grand or ignorant to attend the wedding of their king’s son. The doors are thrown open for all to attend, not just the chosen few, even to the extent of gathering in the people who live on the streets. Then the king throws someone out of the banquet for not wearing the appropriate finery. At first sight, it looks unjust that the king rounds up last-minute guests in the middle of what they are doing, and then punishes them for coming unprepared. Many scholars explain this away by saying that St Matthew has just added together two separate stories with a wedding theme; but I think they are missing the point. For Jesus begins by telling a story with a popular theme, familiar to us from the Magnificat: the rich put down and sent empty away, while the humble and poor are exalted in their place – a typical “them-and-us” story. But then he gives it a twist to surprise us all out of our complacency and self-satisfaction, rich and poor, powerful and powerless alike. In the Epistle, St Paul explains what Jesus means: “God establishes you in the Anointed Christ, and anoints you by putting His seal on us, and giving us His Spirit in our hearts as a first instalment.” So there you have it: first, God the Father compels us to come into the wedding feast of His Son and seals our adoption as His own sons and daughters, co-inheritors with Christ of the whole Kingdom itself. Then the Spirit is bestowed in our hearts as the first instalment of our new way of living. But those who misuse or waste this first flow of grace will lose when it comes to the ensuing graces, whoever they are: “Many are called,” Jesus observes, “but few are chosen.”
What in us has become of this first instalment of grace? Has it simply got stuck in our hearts, or does it show in our minds in the way we decide things; does it show on the outside through the way we act? Where is the grace upon grace? Where are the signs of spiritual progress, after receiving not only the King’s invitation, but the honour of a new standing in His Kingdom? Why do we look and behave and think as before? In the case of that unchanged wedding guest, something showed the king that everything he had been given had made no difference, for there was no sign of new growth in grace beyond that “first instalment” from the Holy Spirit. Either he was living in the world, cutting himself off from the heaven that had been planted in his heart; or he was living on a personally fulfilled religious plane, with no sign to show for it in the world and for the world. The guest thrown out was not fit for the Kingdom, not because he had made no effort, but because he was enjoying heaven for himself, and living as though nothing had changed. He was not, as the Lord’s Prayer implores, seek the Kingdom to come “on earth, as it is in heaven”. He was not a whole person, living spiritually and holistically in the world. He was unable to be what the Christian must always be seen to be: a new creation in Christ, a different way of humanity.
So what is this difference to humanity that, for instance, an astonishing saint like St Symeon, or a new Church Year resolves us to seek and emulate? Well, first, St Matthew reports how, even when we fast and lament, we should not put on the act of sorrow and penitence for public consumption, but anoint ourselves with the oil of gladness (Matthew 6.17), just like at a wedding. Joy and confidence in Christ as the centre of all things, then, are the first signs to the world of the presence of God in our midst. Secondly, as we face the prospect of war and the vicious destruction of Christianity in the lands that cradled the Church from its birth, the only point of Christians is that we are people not of revenge and ancient hatreds, of self-pity and recrimination, but of persevering forbearance and inexhaustible forgiveness, people serving reconciliation and bringing healing, people of faith in Christ’s promises, hope in His ever coming Kingdom, and unconditional love for God and neighbour - and enemy.
These are the precepts of heaven for a new Church Year: the more heavenly minded we are, the more earthly good we will be in serving the coming of Christ’s Kingdom on earth as it is in