On Friday 12 and Saturday 13 April, Fr Joe Ostopowich will conduct a Lenten retreat at St Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic parish. Fr Joe will be available to hear confessions from 6:30PM on the Friday, followed by a Lenten prayer service (7PM) and a talk. Fr Joe will also hear confessions and preach at Divine Liturgy on the Saturday (11AM). To help us prepare mentally and spiritually for the retreat, Fr Joe has provided a series of short reflections on the themes of kindness and forgiveness; these will be published here on Fridays leading up to the retreat date. This is the first.
Kindness takes root when we look beyond ourselves to the needs of others. ‘All about me’ or ‘I am always right’ attitudes cause us to miss opportunities to show kindness:
to the exhausted Mom juggling between childcare and work
to a stressed out Dad trying to pay bills
to the teenager seeking affirmation and help
to the lonely person seeking love
All need someone to ask, ’Can I help you?’
As the Great Fast begins, perhaps we can all learn to treat each other well and offer a bit of kindness along the way.
Let’s make it real. Find someone who needs a dose of kindness. Visit those who cannot come to Church. Derail gossip by saying something nice. This list is endless!
Since 2012, our Eparchy has been collecting funds to help underprivileged and orphaned children in Ukraine through our Christmas Candle appeal. Our fundraising program,“Christmas Candle/Різдвяна свічка” is part of a larger global appeal sponsored by Caritas Ukraine. We have had great momentum over the last few years raising over $20,000 with support from our BC Parishes as well as Parishes in other Provinces and parts of the United States.
The appeal is once again taking place for the month of December and we encourage everyone to remember these children during the Christmas season with a voluntary donation. Please place your donation in an envelope marked Christmas Candle and include it with the Sunday collection at any Ukrainian Catholic Church in BC. Donations over $20 are eligible to receive a tax receipt if requested and cheques can be made out to your Parish with Christmas Candle Project in the Memo.
Last year’s money raised was used to provide children with speech therapy, allowing them to function and communicate normally in society. This year’s focus is to support a home for orphans in Ivano-Frankivsk that provides basic necessities, education and life skills to help them integrate into society.
We thank you for your past support and generosity and ask that you continue supporting this appeal as part of your Christmas tradition. Caritas is an international Catholic aid organization that is supported and approved by His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk and His Excellency Bishop Ken Nowakowski. 100% of the donated proceeds go to Caritas Ukraine.
Today, 15 November, is the beginning of the pre-Christmas season of abstinence and penance of the eastern churches, often known as ‘Philip’s Fast’ because it begins the day after the feast of St Philip the Apostle. The season corresponds to but is somewhat longer than the season of Advent in the western church, and lasts through 24 December.
Although not traditionally as strict a fast as the pre-Easter season of Lent, Philip’s Fast serves a similar purpose in preparing us mentally and spiritually for the great celebration to come. In the words of Monsignor Russell A. Duker:
To worthily meet our Lord and Savior, we should sanctify this pre-Nativity season of the Phillipian Fast. Sanctifying means spending our time in faith and in the service of God and in kindness towards our neighbor, especially those who are in need of our assistance. And we should think of what we would have been had Christ not come to our lowliness and poverty. Together with the whole of the Byzantine Church we should try to meet Christ as he deserves to be met and as it will, in His mercy, best serve our spiritual benefit!