A dedicated Hierarchical Divine Liturgy to intercede with Pope Francis’ intentions for world peace and security in Ukraine was held at St Mary’s Cathedral on Sunday 27 March 2022.
The Eparch for Ukrainians in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania, Ukrainian Catholic Church Bishop Mykola Bychok CSsR and Perth Ukrainian Catholic Parish Priest Father Ihor Holovko joined Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB and Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton two days after Pope Francis consecrated Russia and Ukraine “to the Immaculate Heart of our all Holy Lady, the Theotokos and ever Virgin Mary, just as Our Lady requested at Fatima over 100 years ago, in her prayer for the conversion of Russia.”
Bishop Mykola is currently in Perth on a two week visit, having travelled across the country to connect with the Ukranian Catholic communities.
In his homily, Bishop Mykola gave thanks to God for the opportunity to be with the Perth community and pray together for peace in Ukraine “as she faces the highest evil of war, violence and hostility from an enemy who is deaf to all pleas for peace, and makes war against a peaceful neighbour, Ukraine, who has done her no wrong, and has all the goodwill toward her.”
“Ukraine is not Russia’s enemy. Please pray for Ukraine as she passes through this terrible trial and suffering. We Christians are during great Lent, which is a special time of God’s mercy for us. The Great and Holy fast gives each of us a good opportunity to work on ourselves and rethink the direction of our lives,” Bishop Mykola said.
“In the sacred tradition of the holy Eastern churches, the third Sunday of Lent is dedicated to the adoration of the Holy Cross.
“During the Liturgy, the Holy Cross is solemnly brought in procession from the altar on a tray of flowers and placed amidst the congregation. That we may pay homage to the symbol of our salvation reverencing the cross by prostrating before it and kissing it. Let us talk briefly today about the meaning the cross should have in our daily lives,” he added.
Bishop Mykola said that the cross, is an integral symbol of our faith, and a pledge that “God will go through the uttermost for us, He will never wash His hands of us or leave us to perish.”
“The cross speaks, it says, this is how much God loves and cares. He cares so much that He gives His only Son to die for our sins. It says again, greater love has no one than these than that a man lay down his life for his friends. It speaks of the limitless love of God, which will not cease to love, even when crucified,” Bishop Mykola stated.
“…..There is always the cross and pain and there is no life lived on earth without pain and suffering, to a greater or lesser degree. And you don’t have to think that this is present only in the great trials and tribulations that come into our lives from time to time. Suffering and pain are present also in the less dramatic aspects of life.
“Life is not always perfect or always pleasant. There will always be challenges and patience is always needed. The good news is to follow Jesus, not with Him, not before Him, but after Him in His footsteps. This is the very meaning of being a disciple. We are followers of the Lord, who is the one who marks the path in which we must follow,” he affirmed.
“The Holy Cross is the very symbolic symbol of patience. Christ endures all things, even death on the cross. In one sense, death seems to prevail. When Christ the light is extinguished on the cross, death seems victorious, but in the mystery of the empty tomb death is swallowed by the victory of life risen from the dead.
“The cross is therefore also a symbol of the victory of life, over death.”
The Ukranian leader ended his message with a call to remember Ukraine and her people in their prayers this Lent.
“That peace, justice, and prosperity may come to her and that all wars, hostilities, and suffering may cease. Let us pray together, by special prayer to the adoration of the Holy Cross,” Bishop Mykola affirmed.
“To your cross, our Master, we bow in veneration, and we glorify Your holy resurrection. Because we as Christians, put our trust in God from whom we receive salvation, peace, and forgiveness of our sins. Amen.”