Homily of Ukrainian-Rite Archbishop of Winnipeg

"From Our Diversity We Come Together in a Sacred Unity"

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QUEBEC CITY, JUNE 18, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the homily Archbishop Lawrence Huculak of Winnipeg for Ukrainian Catholics, delivered today during the Mass of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, under way in Quebec through Sunday.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I greet you in the name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, at this celebration of the Divine Liturgy, the Eucharistic Liturgy, according to the Byzantine Liturgical tradition.

I greet His Eminence, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec City, and thank him, together with his staff and volunteers, for organizing this International Eucharistic Congress, as well as for the gracious invitation to celebrate this Divine Liturgy with our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers. I greet His Eminence, Cardinal Joseph Tomko, who as the representative of Pope Benedict XVI makes visible for us the spiritual presence of the Holy Father.

I greet the many cardinals, archbishops and bishops who are present today, from both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic Churches. I especially greet the bishops immediately serving at the altar: Most Reverend Stephen Chmilar of Toronto, Eparchial Bishop for Ukrainian Catholics in Eastern Canada; Most Reverend Ibrahim
Ibrahim of Montreal, Eparchial Bishop for Melchite Catholics in Canada; Most Reverend John Pazak of Toronto, Eparchial Bishop for Byzantine Slovak Catholics in Canada; and Most Reverend George Bacouni, Metropolitan of Tyre, representative for the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon.

From the many priests, deacons and laity here today, we have heard prayers chanted in Greek, Arabic, Ukrainian, Spanish, French and English. 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.

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.

In a few moments we shall invoke the presence of the Holy Spirit in the prayer of the Epiclesis. There we shall pray to the Lord: "We ask, we pray and we entreat You: send down Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these Gifts here present.” Through the celebration of the Holy Eucharist we are 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, 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.

We, members of the various Eastern Catholic Churches, are happy to be part of this International Eucharistic Congress, and we are especially happy to lead you in this celebration of the Divine Liturgy. It is our 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. 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.”

Amen!