To the Clergy, religious and faithful of the Eparchy of Ss. Peter and Paul, Melbourne, Australia and Oceania
Christ is Risen,
Truly He has Risen,
We gather together this Easter, to celebrate the Risen Lord, the Resurrection of Christ. We have come with different expectations and backgrounds. Our daily lives differ; our aims and expectations in life are different. There is one thing that is the same. We have come here to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. We can sit quietly in the pew and not engage in the liturgy, or we can be an important and active part of the celebration. This is our choice. We must remember everybody in the community has a role to play.
We heard the priest read the Easter message of St John Chrysostom, at Resurrection matins. It was written some 1,600 years ago. In many ways it could have been written today. St John Chrysostom addresses an issue in his Church which is still an issue for us today. He said to the people that came, that everybody was welcome, not just the inner circle, or the regulars, but everybody, no matter who they are. He says that Christ welcomes everybody to His celebration. It is His invitation not anybody else’s. To be honest, we may well pay attention to this ourselves. Perhaps that is why this letter has been read out at the Paschal vespers since the great saint wrote it.
Our Patriarch said exactly the same thing when he wrote his pastoral letter “A vibrant parish, a place to find Christ”. We want to discover the Risen Lord, not a basic Judeo-Christian ethic, but Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins and conquered death by rising on the third day. If we are to be a Church, this is the basis on which a fundamental reform of the culture of the Church is going to take place. Perhaps being open minded is the key to adapting the culture of Church to the society in which we live. In this way the culture and sociology of the church can and will adapt to the reality of daily life. This open mindedness has to work both ways though. Many of us will have to learn that things like, community, love and inclusiveness are more important than selfishness and materialism. Community prayer on a Sunday may be lacking where it should be a part of our reality.
This plan, called Vision 2020, is an eight year plan. There are different issues that we have to look at. The first perhaps is, do we as a community of Christians look at the basic handbook for Christians, the bible, for that matter, do we have a bible in our room? It is a valid question. Every one of us needs to be able to say honestly that we understand the bible message. How we do this will be an individual matter. Do we want to read it as a group, or individually is our choice. WE now have the catechism of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. If we read this together with the bible, it will lead us to living a way that directs us to having a relationship with Jesus Christ. An English language edition of this catechism will be available towards the end of the year. His Holiness the Pope gave special mention of the new catechism of the UGCC being a very significant pastoral achievement.
We will be talking more about this in all of our parishes as the year goes on.
An important thing that happens at Easter time is the family gathering. For many of us this is a time when the extended family gathers together, and we celebrate. The food in Easter basket represents that which we denied ourselves during Lent. The Pascha represents the Risen Christ. We celebrate our faith; we celebrate our family and those we love. This celebration is prayer. Let us have no doubts about it. It is as much prayer as the family prayers are during lent and the rest of the year.
During this Easter season, may the Lord bless us. May each and every one of us be the reason why somebody who has not prayed for a long time, comes to Jesus.
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