Eucharist Must Bring Unity in Diversity, Urges Prelate

Byzantine Rite Represents Eastern Churches at Congress

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QUEBEC CITY, JUNE 18, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Even the celebration of Mass is at times made into a point of division, the Byzantine-rite archbishop of Winnipeg lamented during his homily at the International Eucharistic Congress.



Archbishop Lawrence Huculak of Winnipeg for Ukrainian Catholics gave the homily at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy today in Quebec. The Eucharistic Congress is under way in Canada through Sunday.

"From the many priests, deacons and laity here today, we have heard prayers chanted in Greek, Arabic, Ukrainian, Spanish, French and English," Archbishop Huculak noted. "Later we shall hear them chanted in Slovak, Hungarian, and Romanian as well -- just some of the languages in which this ancient Divine Liturgy is celebrated throughout the world.

"Indeed, in this celebration of the Divine Liturgy we experience the great diversity that constitutes the People of God. But, as we heard in the Letter to the Ephesians, we are united in one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all."

The Byzantine rite is the liturgical tradition for almost 10 million Catholics in the world. Catholics of this rite have been present in Canada since the 1890s. The Byzantine rite as practiced by the Ukrainian Catholic Church was chosen to represent the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress because it has the greatest number of adherents in Canada.

Archbishop Huculak continued: "In the reading from the holy Gospel we heard Jesus speak of the unity he has with his heavenly Father when he says: 'That they may all be one, even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you.' This unity with our loving God is fundamental to our spiritual identity. It was the purpose for our creation, and it remains the goal of our existence.

"Unfortunately, the diversity we experience in this holy gathering this morning has not always been used for the building up of the one Body of Christ. At times, we, and those before us have used these various points of diversity as reasons to treat our brothers and sisters unfairly, to denigrate, to shame. Even the very celebration of the holy Eucharist has at times been made a point of division, rather than a time to behold the glory of the Lord Jesus, of which we heard in today's Gospel reading."

The archbishop reflected that during the liturgy, the participants would be "able to pray in the most powerful way for unity in the one Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the undivided Trinity."

"For some of you," he continued, "the celebration of this ancient Byzantine Divine Liturgy will be new and unfamiliar, being used to the Eucharistic liturgy according to the Roman liturgical tradition. For those of us belonging to the various Byzantine Churches, today's liturgy may not reflect the beauty and glory we are able to experience when celebrating in our own churches with the icons, music and language with which we are more familiar.

"But from our diversity we come together in a sacred unity through the invitation of Jesus Christ who calls us to receive the one Eucharistic Bread."

The Byzantine-rite archbishop expressed his prayer that "this celebration will be another example of the power of the holy Eucharist and how it can change our lives."

"The holy Eucharist calls us to continued conversion, sanctification and unity in the most holy Trinity," he said. "It is our sincere prayer that by our participation today we will be brought to the spiritual unity of which we hear in the concluding doxology of the anaphora, or Eucharistic canon: 'And grant that with one voice and one heart we may glorify and sing the praises of your most honored and magnificent name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and for ever and ever.'"