On the Sunday before lent, the faithful of the Cathedral parish gathered to prepare for the beginning of lent. Lent is a time of extra prayers, reflection and forgiveness.
The whole parish in unison read the following prayer, “O Father, You sent your Holy Spirit upon us, who are gathered here in your name, may we express goodness and compassion, and forgive each other, as you forgive us in Christ.” The prayer was genuine and sincere.
To underline the importance of prayer during lent, the parish council prepared a pilgrim, Icon of Volodymyr Pryima, a blessed martyr of our church to be brought to the homes of parishioners. He is one of a very few lay people saints in our Ukrainian church.
On June 26, 1941, the soviet brutally tortured and murdered Volodymyr as he and Fr Nickolas Konrad walked to administer the sacrament to a woman in the village of Stradch, Yavoriv District, Ukraine.
The parish council has asked parishioners to take the icon of Blessed Volodymyr to their home at least once for an evening of prayer and fellowship. Some formal prayers have been provided to each household.
So far, 24 families, Ukrainian Association of Noble Park and the North Melbourne Ukrainian School have asked that the icon come to their homes. On Sunday many of these families came to the cathedral. They read together with everyone else, a prayer to Blessed Volodymyr which included these words. “We, your unworthy servants, ask for the forgiveness of our sins, deliver us from the wicked way. We ask for the Protection of the mother of God for our families and our nation.” The icon is presently in the homes of the first parishioners who have welcomed the icon.
In the spirit of prayer and icons, another blessing took place at the end of the Divine Liturgy. During 2019, three of our parishioners attended icon classes which were sponsored by our parish and lead by Natalia Markina. Christine Herczaniwski, Marijka Verbovetski and Lyudmyla Melnychuk presented their icons for a blessing. Bishop Peter blessed these holy icons which will now remain in the home of the authors for generations.
In his homily Bishop Peter stressed that it is completely wrong to look on icons as “false Gods”. They are visual symbols of the salvation that God has brought into the world. They remind us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witness (Heb 12:1) who have gone before us
Blessed Volodymyr pray for us.
This post is also available in: Ukrainian