Our Ukrainian Catholic Church is not a museum of its own history. Jesus Christ, the apostles, the Church Fathers and Mothers did not intend to create a church which was ‘once upon a time’ alive, glorious, relevant and useful to its members. Jesus actually said that He would be with the church until the end of the world. The apostles created communities which they intended would survive until the end of time. The Fathers gave us a living tradition upon which we can continue to build, as our church serves the Lord day by day.
The reason our church was founded was so that throughout history our faithful could know and serve the Lord. AsSt. Johnsaid, “and this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ who you have sent” (John 17:3). We live for no other purpose than to know, love and serve God and to enjoy Him for all eternity. Our church exists for this purpose alone.
The essence of our church is to have a direct and personal encounter with Jesus Christ. It is not just to learn about Jesus but to have a personal relationship with Him. That is not easy, but if you consider everything our church does this is exactly what it is trying to achieve. The church has done this very successfully throughout the ages. Our parents and grandparents, martyrs, saints, confessors and many other holy people have done that. Just look at our history. Traditionally the life in a Ukrainian Catholic parish or village has always been an example of intimate unity with God.
In recent history we now see something we call, “our Christmas and Easter crowds”. Why is it that churches are so full during Easter and then are half empty the following Sunday? Easter is about the fact that Jesus arose from the dead. If we really believe that, and it would seem that we do, then why do church numbers stay low except for our two main holy days?
The Resurrection is real. It is not just an historical fact. People need to experience the power of the Resurrection in their own lives on a daily basis. We need this because our lives can be full of dead hopes, dead dreams, dead through sin, dead to hope, joy, peace and glory. We desperately need to experience the hope, joy, peace and glory which we can have “if God is with us”.
No one can convince us that Jesus is risen and alive and that He is the Son of God. This is something that we must discover for ourselves. We must personally experience Him as being resurrected and alive within us.
It is interesting to note that the call in the Bible, when speaking of Jesus, is “come and see”. Even the Samaritan woman said, “Can this be the Christ”?
Membership in our church is more than just producing a baptism certificate. It must eventually be a real experience of Jesus Christ, the person. We must believe and have faith in the real presence of God.
Church is not about God’s lawyers presenting a logical argument about the existence of God. It is about each one of us being witness to how God acts in our own lives.
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