UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Archpastoral Visit to Portland, OR
By Subdeacon Vasyl Pasakas
Once again, on Sunday After Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord, the parishioners of St. John The Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox parish community in Portland, OR welcomed among their midst their spiritual father and Archpastor His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.
The children of the parish family, accompanied by their parents and the president of the parish board of administration, along with the pastor of the parish Very Rev. Fr. Ivan Petrouchtchak patiently waited for the arrival of the bishop at Portland National Airport. Welcoming the bishop at the airport, the parishioners asked for the Archpastor’s prayers, as the parish enters yet into another year of its ministry among the Ukrainian Orthodox Christians in Portland Metropolitan area.
On Saturday evening, following the liturgical prayers with the bishop, the parish board of administration hosted the hierarch to a dinner, prepared by the membership of St. John’s parish family.
Sunday morning was one of the most joyful and spiritually uplifting days of the Church year in the life of the parish community. Children welcoming the bishop with flowers, the members of the parish board of administration presenting the traditional Bread & Salt, and the parish pastor, Fr. Ivan greeting the bishop with the words of humble welcome and a request for a prayer of the faithful of the community that are mostly recent immigrants from Ukraine.
His Grace Bishop Daniel presided over the Archpastoral Divine Liturgy, assisted by Very Rev. Ivan Petrouchtchak, a pastor of the parish family and Very Rev. Volodymyr Zinchyshyn, a pastor of St. Panteleimon Ukrainian Orthodox Mission in New York, NY. Prior to the beginning of the liturgical service, the bishop brought forth a particle of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord (a very tiny bit of the wood taken from the cross that to this day can be found in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem) for veneration by the faithful of the parish community.
In his sermon the bishop reflected upon the message of the Sunday Gospel narrative as well as upon the meaning of the feast of Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord. Bishop Daniel stated: “On the Sunday following the Exaltation of the Cross we hear Christ say: “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s sake will save it.”
…Let us ask ourselves the question, what does the cross mean to me? When it is mentioned, do we think only of the first Good Friday and the hill outside Jerusalem? Is it no more than a historical fact that happened nineteen centuries ago? Unless we see it as a principle of everyday life, a way of living, of voluntary self-giving, we miss its practical meaning for us. The cross is not laid on my shoulder by another, or by accident. It is not imposed from without, but voluntar¬ily assumed from within. It is going the second mile, doing more than conditions require. That impossible person at your place of work, grimly endured, is not your cross, Only when you meet his insults with, “Father forgive him,” do you become a cross-bearer. The monotony of housekeep¬ing is not your cross. You take it upon yourself only when you do your work gladly, as unto God and your family…
…What should be our response to Jesus’ sacrificial love? Our response would be reflected in our attitude to¬ward life, and toward all human be¬ings as a whole. If our attitude to¬ward people is one of honest sym¬pathy, understanding and love, if we live sacrificially, giving of our time and means toward the elevation of humanity, living lives that have for their purpose putting God first, and the affairs of His Kingdom are given the pre-eminence, then it may be truthfully said that we know whom we have believed, we have a clear vision of the Man upon the cross.
The early Christians went through the Roman world telling people about a man who had been crucified and who rose from the dead. It was an arresting item of news. At first the listener would be shocked, but as the story unfolded and its meaning be¬came clear, new hope and joy lighted up his face, for he found in this old story of the Galilean Peasant nailed to a cross a satisfying view of life. It turned a flood light on the mystery of human existence; it revealed the se¬cret of living triumphantly over the things that get people down; it satis¬fied the age-old hunger for life be¬yond the grave.
The striking thing about this good news was that the road to life un¬ending led by way of the cross. By giving your life you find life. By an¬swering evil with good, hate with love, the world’s worst with your best, you rise with Christ from the dead! You and He were as One!
… Let us commit ourselves to rejecting a life of self-indulgence by taking up our cross, but not as a burden, for Christ promises, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).”
Following the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the parish community gathered together in the parish hall for a joyful Agape meal with their bishop.