Dearly Beloved in Christ !
Today I address all of you faithful of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, led by your priests and bishops, and invite each one of you to embark together with me on an extraordinary pilgrimage that will last for ten days—from the Ascension to the Descent of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost. We are calling this pilgrimage the Missionary Decade of Days in which we turn the attention of our entire Church towards our common vocation as “missionaries,” that is to say a community ready to share God’s Word of salvation with others.
The stages of this pilgrimage are based on a reading of the Acts of the Apostles throughout this decade of days for our overall growth, highlighting the following topics:
1) The gift of baptism and divine adoption: lest we forget, Whose children we are and that we have a “heavenly citizenship;”
2) The Word of God: to remind ourselves that God made Himself known to the human race and continues to speak to us;
3) The teachers of faith: to remember those who gave us the gift of faith and who now guide us in the faith;
4) The gift of consecrated life: to appreciate the great gift of monastic and religious communities in the Church and to accompany those vocations by our prayers;
5) To be a disciple of Christ: to feel the calling that God has for each of us—FOR ME—to follow Him and live according to His teaching;
6) Responsibility for the gift of faith: to be aware that this gift demands our continual response and efforts;
7) Willingness to testify —to serve: to give witness to God’s wonderful works and to serve Him and our neighbour as the Lord Himself showed us;
8) Our Cross: that we be not afraid of life’s difficulties and challenges, and carry our crosses bravely for the sake of Christ;
9) To be filled with a missionary spirit: to experience that to be with Christ is an indescribable joy that should be shared with everyone;
10) The gift of the Holy Spirit: that we may always be open to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Who already dwells in us and moves us towards what is good.
Once St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin, making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, took the twelve-year-old Jesus by the hand and, for three days, walked patiently, enduring the hardships and struggles of the journey towards their meeting with God in the Lord’s temple. On the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, we heard the following words about Jerusalem:
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him” (Jn 4: 23). Our pilgrimage, however, is not tied to a place, but rather to a spiritual state. It is important to listen and meditate on God’s word and our Holy Mother Church’s teachings that our pastors, priests and bishops hand down to us. With every passing day of our pilgrimage, may the gift of God’s love and the joy of sharing in the journey increase within us. On the tenth day, the feast of Pentecost, may we all fervently ask the Holy Spirit to restore in us the joy of our life in Christ, renewing our countenance as Christ’s disciples, reviving our parish communities, raising and resurrecting our native Ukraine.
Embarking together on this pilgrimage, let the entire parish community, as the People of God, gather on May 29th, the feast of the Ascension of the Lord, in their church. So as not to get lost and to make all of our stops together, in accordance with the defined daily program, I ask you to bring along “The Guide to the Missionary Decade,” our pilgrimage’s itinerary. This little guide book can be purchased at your local parish and, in accordance with it, your pastors will lead you from the Ascension to Pentecost. If you cannot attend daily worship at your parish, make this spiritual pilgrimage at home with your family.
Today, on Mother’s Day, I especially want to greet all of our mothers and thank them for the birth, education and handing down of the gift of faith to their children and grandchildren. Today I’m praying for you to our Lord so that He may give you, dear mothers, the strength and grace in this time to take by the hand and guide your children—and entire family—to church so that we may all come together and make this missionary pilgrimage so as to grow in to the full measure of Christ’s disciples, who are willing to share with others their faith in the Lord.
Given in Kyiv
at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ
on the feast of the Holy Great Martyr, Victory-bearer and Wonderworker, George
6 May 2014
please download the “Mission Days Guidebook”
This post is also available in: Ukrainian