UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Great and Holy Friday at St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, IL!
By Subdeacon Yurii Andreiko
Photos by Svitlana Lymar
On Good and Holy Friday, the most somber day of the liturgical year, about 200 parishioners, relatives and members of the community at large gathered in Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, Chicago, IL, in solemn witness of the sacrifice of the Lord in order to participate in the Vespers service, at which the Holy Shroud is brought out of the sanctuary and placed in the midst of the faithful for veneration.
From the homily by Bishop Daniel, recalling the cross as the central and most widely known symbol of Christianity for 2,000 years, to the evening Vespers liturgical services, the cross and sacrifice of Christ drew in eyes, hearts and minds of those in attendance.
On this holy day, the faithful commemorated the death of Christ on the Cross and His burial, with the spiritual father of the cathedral community and the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA His Grace Bishop Daniel, who was assisted by the pastor of the cathedral community Very Rev. Fr. Ivan Lymar, Rev. Fr. Vasyl Dmytryshyn and Protodeacon Andriy Fronchak. The liturgical services of the day are the culmination of the observance of His Passion by which our Lord suffered and died for our sins. This commemoration begins on Thursday evening with the Matins of Holy Friday and concludes with a Vespers on Friday afternoon/evening that observes the veneration of the shroud.
The bishop led the Vespers service on Holy Friday, on which from the early years the Church observed an annual commemoration of the decisive and crucial three days of sacred history, i.e., Great Friday, Great Saturday and Pascha.
Great Friday and Saturday have been observed as days of deep sorrow and strict fast from Christian antiquity. Great Friday and Saturday direct our attention to the trial, crucifixion, death and burial of Christ. We are placed within the awesome mystery of the extreme humility of our suffering God. Therefore, these days are at once days of deep gloom as well as watchful expectation. The Author of life is at work transforming death into life: "Come, let us see our Life lying in the tomb, that he may give life to those that in their tombs lie dead" (Sticheron of Great Saturday Matins). Liturgically, the profound and awesome event of the death and burial of God in the flesh is marked by a particular kind of silence, i.e. by the absence of an Eucharistic celebration.
Bishop Daniel invited everyone to enter into the mystery of the tomb of Christ, putting our hopes and prayers at His feet, so that we can come out on Pascha morning and proclaim to the world that the Lord has Risen!
As in the past, the cathedral bishop called upon the faithful “…to live their lives, following the example of selflessness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… The world is hungry and thirsty for the Light that comes from Christ; the Light that brings consolation to the world with economic difficulties and natural disasters. We need to allow the Light of Christ shine through us…
…We come here to venerate this shroud and the cross, this tree that continues to burn forever with love and mercy. Let us come with torches and swords and the determination of those persecutors of Jesus, not to crucify Jesus Christ, but to nail to the cross our own selfishness, lack of truthfulness, hatreds, and infidelities, to let them be burned on the cross that can never itself be consumed. We come as Judas, who betrayed Jesus; as Peter, who denied him; as the crowd that jeered him; or as Pilate, who knew the truth but showed his pitiful weakness by cowering with bravado before the false but loud voices of opposition. Like Moses, who stood before that burning bush, venerating this burning tree sets us on a mission to set free all who are in the grip of sin and Satan, beginning with ourselves, but ending only when the Good News reaches to the ends of the earth.
When we finally realize and confess who Christ is, the heart of the great I AM is trust open to pour forth water and blood, to bathe us and give us life. And when we are washed in the blood of this spotless Lamb, we will come to know not only who Jesus Christ is, but who we truly are, when he becomes I AM WITH YOU…”