Patriarch Sviatoslav has issued an invitation. The Greek-Catholic Church of Kyiv, also known as the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church, is a missionary church with an evangelical spirit. We are not an ethnic club, and our church is not only for ethnic Ukrainians. We are, as it is often said among us, a church from Ukraine for the world. I am proof that this is possible, as is our temple in Richmond and our mission in Chicago. We are part of what the theologian John Madey calls the ‘conscientization’ of the Catholic churches: rooted in who we are as Byzantine Christians in the Church of Kyiv, we join our sister churches in the proclamation of the good news of the kingdom of God.
The invitation has gone out in a ‘guidebook’ issued by our church. You can probably get one at your local Kyivan temple. The invitation reads as follows:
On this solemn feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ we call upon all to respond to the invitation of His Beatitude Sviatoslav and embark together on a pilgrimage towards Pentecost. For the next ten days, we will reflect together with our parish community on the daily Gospel readings for Divine Liturgy from the Gospel of St John. By following the themes found in St John’s Gospel we will be able to respond with greater fervor to the invitation of the Head of our Church, to proclaim the Good News of Christ’s Gospel to all who seek to hear the Word of God.
I am looking forward to being on this evangelical pilgrimage with my church. Pray for us to discover so fully who we are that, instead of existing from the constrained and oppressed agency of the colonized mentality that tells us that we are but a museum for ethnic preservation, we might live from the center of the theology we claim to hold: that Christ is our Pascha and that our church having been risen from the dead might proclaim that the Lord who has ascended into the heavens bestows life to those in the tombs. This is evangelism, a declaration that oppression has been rendered powerless and the gods that dominate the earth have been stripped down to size by the One-Who-Is.
You ascended in glory, O Christ our God, we sing in today’s festal tropar, having gladdened your friends with Your promise of the Holy Spirit. And your blessing confirmed their belief that You are indeed God’s Son, the redeemer of the world! On this Gospel proclamation, the mothers and fathers meditate in the kondak for today: When you fulfilled the plan of salvation for us and united all things on earth to those in heaven, O Christ our God, You ascended in glory, never leaving us, but remaining ever-present. For You proclaimed to those who love You: I am with you and no one else has power over you. And thus, we exclaim with the exapostilarion: O Christ, You were raised up to heaven in the sight of your disciples; You again went up to share your Father’s throne. The angels who came to meet You at the heavenly gate cried out: Open your gates and lift up your lintels so that the King of glory may come in, for our King comes again to the Source of light. Our church thus prays for these Mission Days:
O Lord our God, spread the light of Your Holy Gospel, that it may shine through us who are baptized, as children of the Light. Grant that the Christian faith may spread in our society, that we may bear witness to Your living presence in our lives and in our parish community; O Lord, hear us and have mercy.
O Holy Spirit, bestowing all: You send prophets, perfect priests, teach the uneducated wisdom, transform fishermen into theologians, and unite the entire church community. Consubstantial and co-reigning with the Father and the Son, O Comforter, glory be to You!
Called out of colonization and oppression, we exercise our theological agency. I look forward to these ten days of contemplating the signs and words revealed by Holy John the Theologian in his Gospel. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Above all the earth be your glory!