Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 Litany Lane Blog: Charisma, Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22, Psalms 15:2-5, 6, Luke 19:1-10, Bl. Josaphata Michaelina Hordashevska, Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog:

Charisma, Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22, Psalms 15:2-5, 6, Luke 19:1-10, Bl. Josaphata Michaelina Hordashevska, Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week!
Year of Faith - October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Purgatory and/or Heaven is our Soul, our Spirit...it's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


November 02, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

"Dear children, as a mother I implore you to persevere as my apostles. I am praying to my Son to give you Divine wisdom and strength. I am praying that you may discern everything around you according to God’s truth and to strongly resist everything that wants to distance you from my Son. I am praying that you may witness the love of the Heavenly Father according to my Son. My children, great grace has been given to you to be witnesses of God’s love. Do not take the given responsibility lightly. Do not sadden my motherly heart. As a mother I desire to rely on my children, on my apostles. Through fasting and prayer you are opening the way for me to pray to my Son for Him to be beside you and for His name to be holy through you. Pray for the shepherds because none of this would be possible without them. Thank you."

October 25, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

"Dear children! Today I call you to pray for my intentions. Renew fasting and prayer because Satan is cunning and attracts many hearts to sin and perdition. I call you, little children, to holiness and to live in grace. Adore my Son so that He may fill you with His peace and love for which you yearn. Thank you for having responded to my call." ~ Blessed Virgin Mary


Today's Word:  charisma  cha·ris·ma  [kuh-riz-muh]

Origin:  1635–45;  < Late Latin  < Greek,  equivalent to char-  (base of cháris  favor, charízesthai  to favor; akin) + -isma -ismix

1. Theology . a divinely conferred gift or power.
2. a spiritual power or personal quality that gives an individual influence or authority over large numbers of people.
3. the special virtue of an office, function, position, etc., that confers or is thought to confer on the person holding it an unusual ability for leadership, worthiness of veneration, or the like.


Today's Old Testament Reading -  Psalms 15:2-5

2 Whoever lives blamelessly, who acts uprightly, who speaks the truth from the heart,
3 who keeps the tongue under control, who does not wrong a comrade, who casts no discredit on a neighbour,
4 who looks with scorn on the vile, but honours those who fear Yahweh, who stands by an oath at any cost,
5 who asks no interest on loans, who takes no bribe to harm the innocent. No one who so acts can ever be shaken.


Today's Epistle -  Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22

1 'Write to the angel of the church in Sardis and say, "Here is the message of the one who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: I know about your behaviour: how you are reputed to be alive and yet are dead.
2 Wake up; put some resolve into what little vigour you have left: it is dying fast. So far I have failed to notice anything in your behaviour that my God could possibly call perfect;
3 remember how you first heard the message. Hold on to that. Repent! If you do not wake up, I shall come to you like a thief, and you will have no idea at what hour I shall come upon you.
4 There are a few in Sardis, it is true, who have kept their robes unstained, and they are fit to come with me, dressed in white.
5 Anyone who proves victorious will be dressed, like these, in white robes; I shall not blot that name out of the book of life, but acknowledge it in the presence of my Father and his angels.
6 Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches."
14 'Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea and say, "Here is the message of the Amen, the trustworthy, the true witness, the Principle of God's creation:
15 I know about your activities: how you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other,
16 but since you are neither hot nor cold, but only lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth.
17 You say to yourself: I am rich, I have made a fortune and have everything I want, never realising that you are wretchedly and pitiably poor, and blind and naked too.
18 I warn you, buy from me the gold that has been tested in the fire to make you truly rich, and white robes to clothe you and hide your shameful nakedness, and ointment to put on your eyes to enable you to see.
19 I reprove and train those whom I love: so repent in real earnest.
20 Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share a meal at that person's side.
21 Anyone who proves victorious I will allow to share my throne, just as I have myself overcome and have taken my seat with my Father on his throne.
22 Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches."


Today's Gospel Reading - Luke 19:1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town and suddenly a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance; he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man. He kept trying to see which Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd; so he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way. When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I am to stay at your house today.' And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully. They all complained when they saw what was happening. 'He has gone to stay at a sinner's house,' they said. But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, 'Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.' And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of man has come to seek out and save what was lost.'
• In today’s Gospel we are reaching the end of the long journey which began in chapter 9 (Lk 9, 51). During the journey, it was not easy to know the way Jesus was following. It was only known that he was going toward Jerusalem! Now at the end, the geography was clear and definite. Jesus reaches Jericho, the city of the palm trees, in the Valley of Jordan. The last stop of the pilgrims, before going up toward Jerusalem! He went to Jericho where the long road of exodus of 40 years in the desert ended. The exodus of Jesus was also ended. In entering into Jericho, Jesus meets a blind man who wanted to see him (Lk 18, 35-43). Now in going out of the city, he meets Zacchaeus, a tax collector: he also wants to see him. A blind man and a Publican. Both of them were excluded. Both of them bothered and disturbed the people: the blind man because he was shouting out to Jesus, the Publican because of the taxes. Both are accepted by Jesus, each one in his own way.

• Luke 19, 1-2: The situation. Jesus enters into Jericho and crosses the city. “And behold a man whose name was Zacchaeus, head of the tax collectors and a rich man”. The tax collector was the person who collected the public taxes on selling and buying of merchandise. Zacchaeus was the head of the tax collectors in the city. He was very rich and closely linked to the system of domination of the Romans. The more religious Jews argued in this way: “The king of our people is God. Therefore, the dominion of the Romans on us is against God. Anyone who collaborates with the Romans, sins against God!” Thus, the soldiers who served in the Roman army and the tax collectors, like Zacchaeus, were excluded and avoided because they were considered sinners and impure.

• Luke 19, 3-4: The attitude of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus. But being small, he ran ahead and climbed on a tree and waited for Jesus to go by. He really had a great desire to see Jesus! Before in the parable of the poor Lazarus and of the rich man who has no name (Lk 16, 19-31), Jesus had said that it was truly very difficult for a rich person to be converted and to open the door that separates him from accepting poor Lazarus. Here we have a rich man who does not close himself up in his riches. Zacchaeus wants something more. When an adult, a person who is prominent in the city, climbs up on a tree, it is because he does not care much about the opinion of others. Something more important moves him inside. He wants to open the door for poor Lazarus.

• Luke 19, 5-7: Attitude of Jesus, reaction of the people and of Zacchaeus. Getting and seeing Zacchaeus on the tree, Jesus does not ask nor does he demand anything. He only responds to the desire of the man and says: “Zacchaeus come down, hurry because I am to stay at your home today!” Zacchaeus gets down and receives Jesus, in his house, with great joy, “All complained: He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house!” Luke says that all complained! That signifies that Jesus was remaining alone in his attitude of accepting the excluded, especially the collaborators of the system. But Jesus does not care about the criticism. He goes to the house of Zacchaeus and defends him from the criticism. Instead of calling him sinner, he calls him “son of Abraham” (Lk 19, 9).

• Luke 19, 8: Decision of Zacchaeus. “Look, Lord, I am going to give half of my property to the poor; and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount!” This is the conversion produced in Zacchaeus because of the acceptance that he received from Jesus. To give back four times was what the law prescribed to do in certain cases (Ex 21, 37; 22, 3). To give half of my possessions to the poor was the novelty which the contact with Jesus produced in him. In fact, sharing was taking place.

• Luke 19, 9-10: Final word of Jesus. “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham”. The interpretation of the Law by means of the ancient Tradition excluded the tax collectors from the race of Abraham. Jesus says that he comes to seek and save what was lost. The Kingdom is for all. Nobody can be excluded. The choice of Jesus is clear, and also his call: It is not possible to be Jesus’ friend and continue to support a system which marginalizes and excludes so many people. By denouncing the unjust divisions, Jesus opens the space to a new way of living together, directed by the new values of truth, of justice and of love.

• Son of Abraham. "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham!” Through being a descendant of Abraham all nations of earth will be blessed (Gn 12, 3; 22, 18).It was very important for Luke’s communities, formed by Christians, both of Jewish and of Pagan origin, the affirmation that Jesus calls Zacchaeus “son of Abraham”. In this we find the confirmation of the fact that in Jesus, God was fulfilling the promises made to Abraham, addressed to all nations, both to Jews and to gentiles. They are also sons of Abraham and heirs of the promises. Jesus accepts those who were not accepted. He offers a place to those who do not have it. He receives as brothers and sisters the persons whom the religion and the government excluded and considered:

- immoral: the prostitutes and the sinners (Mt 21,31-32; Mk 2,15; Lk 7, 37-50; Jn 8, 2-11),
- heretic: pagans and Samaritans (Lk 7, 2-10; 17,16; Mk 7, 24-30; Jn 4, 7-42),
- impure: lepers and possessed (Mt 8, 2-4; Lk 17,12-14; Mk 1, 25-26),
- marginalized: women, children and the sick (Mk 1,32; Mt 8,16;19,13-15; Lk 8, 2-3),
- fighters: publicans and soldiers (Lk 18, 9-14;19,1-10);
- the poor: the people of the place and the poor who had no power (Mt 5, 3; Lk 6, 20; Mt 11,25-26).
Personal questions
• How does our community accept the persons who are despised and marginalized? Are we capable, like Jesus to perceive the problems of persons and to give them some attention?
· How do we perceive salvation today entering into our house and into our community? The welcoming tenderness of Jesus produced a total change in the life of Zacchaeus. Is the tenderness of our community producing some change in the neighbourhood? Which one?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites, www.ocarm.org.


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  Blessed Josaphata Hordashevska, S.S.M.I

Feast Day:  November 20
Patron Saint:  n/a

Blessed Josaphata Hordashevska, S.S.M.I.
Blessed Josaphata Hordashevska, S.S.M.I., born Michaelina Hordashevska, (20 November 1869, Lviv - 7 April 1919, Lviv) a Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Religious Sister, was the first member of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate.

In 1869, Michaelina Hordashevska was born in Lviv, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and now Ukraine, into a family who were members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. At the age of 18, she considered consecrating her life to God in a contemplative monastery of the Basilian nuns, then the only Eastern-rite women's religious congregation. She attended a spiritual retreat which was preached by a Basilian monk, Father Jeremiah Lomnytsky, O.S.B.M., whose spiritual guidance she sought. With his permission, Michaelina took a private vow of chastity for one year. She was to renew this vow twice.

At that time, Father Jeremiah, seeing that there was a need of active Religious Sisters to meet the social needs of the poor and needy faithful of the Church, had decided to establish a women's congregation which would follow an active life of service. He did so in conjunction with Father Cyril Seletsky, pastor of the village of Zhuzhelyany. Lomnytsky felt that Michaelina would be an appropriate candidate to found such a congregation. Thus she was asked to be the foundress of such a group, rather than follow the monastic life she had been considering. When she agreed, she was sent in June 1892 to the Polish Roman Catholic Felician Sisters to experience the life of community which followed an active consecrated life.

Hordashevska returned to Lviv two months later and, on 24 August, took the religious habit of the new Congregation and received the name Josaphata, in honor of the Ukrainian Catholic martyr, Saint Josaphat, O.S.B.M. She then went to Zhuzhelyany, and became the first Superior of the seven young women who had been recruited for the new institute, training them in the spirit and charism of the Sisters Servants: "Serve your people where the need is greatest".

For the rest of her life, Mother Josaphata led the new Congregation, through its growth and development. She oversaw the development of the various new ministries the Sisters entered. For this, she had to steer a new path for the Sisters in the Eastern Church, sometimes being caught between the conflicting visions of the two founders.

By 1902 the Congregation numbered 128 Sisters, in 26 convents across the country. They were able to hold their first General Chapter in August of that year, at which Sister Josephata was elected the first Superior General of the Congregation, Lomnytsky resigning that office with that. Soon, however, internal divisions led Sister Josephata to tender her resignation to the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lviv, the Servant of God Andrey Sheptytsky, O.S.B.M. Under the new Superior General appointed by the Metropolitan Archbishop, Mother Josephata and her natural sister, Sister Arsenia Hordashevska, were denied permission to take permanent vows, and Sister Josephata was assigned to one of the most difficult missions of the Congregation.

Due to her canonical status of still being in temporary vows, Sister Josephata was ineligible to participate in the next General Chapter of the Congregation. Nonetheless, she was elected Vicaress General of the Congregation in absentia, with the delegates of the Chapter petitioning the Metropolitan that she be allowed to make her permanent vows. This request was granted, and Hordashevska did so the following day, 11 May 1909, and assumed the office to which she had been voted.

Three years later, Mother Josephata was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the bone. In 1919, at the age of 49 and on the day she had predicted, she died amidst terrible suffering. Her mortal remains were exhumed in 1982 and taken to Rome, where they are kept in a reliquary in the General Motherhouse of the Sisters Servants in Rome. The process of her beatification started in Rome in 1983 and on June 27, 2001 she was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Lviv. Numerous miracles are ascribed due to her intercession after her death.


    • Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate. http://ssmi-us.org/
    • From Wikipedia


    Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane


    Today's  Snippet  I:  Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate

    The Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate (S.S.M.I.) are a religious congregation of women in the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. They were founded in 1892 in Lviv, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and now in Ukraine, the first such organization of religious women in this Eastern Catholic Church. The founders were the Blessed Josaphata Hordashevska and the Servant of God, Father Jeremiah Lymnytsky, O.S.B.M.


    The Ukrainian Catholic Church was formed in 1595 through the Union of Brest, when several bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, possibly bowing to pressure from their ruler, the King of Poland, agreed to enter into full communion with the Holy See of Rome. The adherents of this union were a minority within the general Ukrainian population, with strong hostility coming from the adherents of the Orthodox Church. This often led to persecution.

    The entire Ukrainian people suffered greatly over the following centuries, as their national boundaries shifted from one era to another. During that time, Ukrainian Catholics retained the traditions of Orthodox Church institutions, of which one was an enclosed religious order as the sole approved option for women who wanted to live a religious lifestyle. They were, however, also in touch with the ecclesiastical developments of Western Europe.

    Father Jeremiah Lymnytsky, a Basilian monk, was among the first members of his religious Order trained under Polish Jesuit Fathers, which had been ordered by Pope Leo XIII due to their decline over the centuries of persecution. From his experiences with the Polish Roman Catholics, Lymnytsky conceived the idea of establishing communities of active Religious Sisters to assist the Basilian Fathers in answering the great social needs of the people, as had emerged throughout Western Europe during that era.

    Lymnytsky was invited in 1891 by Father Cyril Seletsky, a widowed priest, to give a parish mission at the parish of Zhuzel (now called Zhulzheliany) where he was leaving as pastor. The mission was very well received, and he was approached by several young girls who wanted to give their lives to God. When he indicated that the usual dowry would be needed for admission to a monastery, one girl indicated that she was too poor for that. She was Michaelina Hordashevska, later to be known as Mother Josephata. Lymnytsky was troubled by this and pondered whether she could be instrumental in realizing his goal of establishing active religious communities of women in their Church. Michaelina accepted him as her spiritual director, and under his guidance, she made a private vow of chastity. He then invited her to become the first member of this new way of life he was proposing, which he and Seletsky would direct, advising her that there would be much work and suffering ahead. Michaelina accepted his invitation.

    Foundation of the Congregation

    In June 1892, Michaelina Hordashevska went to stay with the Polish Roman Catholic Felician Sisters, a fairly new congregation which had been founded with a similar goal by a Polish noblewoman. She spent two months with the Sisters, experiencing the dynamics of an active religious congregation. She returned to her native city of Lviv on 22 August, and fashioned the religious habit which was to distinguish the new Congregation. Two days later, she was formally given this habit and the religious name Josephata, in honor of the revered Ukrainian Catholic martyr, Saint Josaphat.

    Hordashevka then went to the nearby village of Zhuzel (site of the parish mission where her call had taken its first formal step), where seven other young women who had been recruited for this new community were waiting to establish a community. They then began their preparation to start their lives of service. Sister Josaphata was appointed Superior of the community. She taught and encouraged the other members of the community, telling them: "Serve your people where the need is greatest".

    Within ten years, the 8 Sisters had grown to 128, living in 26 convents throughout the region of the Ukraine. They were able to hold their first General Chapter in 1902, in the course of which Sister Josephata Hordashevka was elected the first Superior General of the Congregation, with Father Jeremiah Lymnytsky resigning his position as Director of the institute. Unfortunately, severe divisions arose within the Congregation, driving Hordashevka to submit her resignation soon afterwards to the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lviv, the Servant of God Andrey Sheptytsky, O.S.B.M., who accepted it and appointed a new Superior General.

    After this, Sister Josephata was assigned to some of the hardest missions of the Congregation and was denied permission to make permanent vows, until the next General Chapter went ahead and voted her as Vicaress General of the Congregation, despite her ineligibility for the office due to her canonical status. The delegates of the Chapter petitioned the Metropolitan to allow her to make her final vows, a petition which was granted and she assumed the post. Three years later, though, Mother Josephata was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the bone. She died from this disease in 1919, at the age of 49.

    Growth and persecution

    The Sisters Servants had been founded to minister to the spiritual, moral, intellectual and social needs of the Ukrainian people. As many of them emigrated to other countries over the years, in search of a better life, the Sisters branched out from western Ukraine to Canada, Yugoslavia, Brazil, the United States, Poland, Slovakia, Italy, Great Britain, France, Argentina, Germany, Australia and Kazakhstan.

    After World War II, however, the Ukraine was absorbed into the Soviet Union. The Communist government which took control of the region soon suppressed the Sisters and seized their properties, as well as that of all other religious institutions. The Sisters were forced to live hidden lives of dedication. The Superior General at that time, Mother Veronica Gargil, was able to flee the Soviet Union with another member of the General Council, first to Czechoslovakia, then, in 1945, to Rome. Shortly after that, the Canadian Province of the Congregation was able to purchase property, which was established as the international motherhouse of the Congregation. Mother Josephata's remains were exhumed in 1982 and transferred to the Generalate in Rome.

    With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Sisters who had lived their consecrated lives in secret were able to re-emerge as a public association. Members of the Congregation from throughout the world joined together to give support and help to their Sisters in Ukraine.


    That following year saw two events of great joy to the Congregation. First, the process seeking Mother Josephata's canonization was begun in March 1992. This coincided with the celebration of the Congregation's centennial, which Sisters Servants from throughout the world were able to attend in Ukraine. Sisters from thirteen countries participated in a Divine Liturgy of Thanksgiving and a special Jubilee program.
    On 6 April 1998, Pope John Paul II issued the decree acknowledging her heroic virtues, and the occurrence of a miracle effected through intercession to her. She was beatified on 27 June 2001, during a visit by that Pope to her native city of Lviv, along with another member of the Congregation who had been murdered by a Soviet soldier and over twenty other martyrs of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.


    • "Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
    • From Wikipedia


    Today's  Snippet  II:  Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

    Patriarch Cathedral, Resurrection of Christ, Kiev
    The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) (Ukrainian: Українська Греко-Католицька Церква (УГКЦ), Ukrains'ka Hreko-Katolyts'ka Tserkva), is the largest Eastern Rite Catholic sui juris particular church in full communion with the Holy See, and is directly subject to the Pope. 

    The Primate of the Church holds the office of Archbishop-Major of Kiev-Halych and All Rus, though the hierarchs of the church have acclaimed their primate "Patriarch" and have requested Papal recognition of, and elevation to, this title. The Church is one of the successor Churches to the acceptance of Christianity by Grand Prince Vladimir the Great of Kiev, in 988. The Church has followed the spread of the Ukrainian diaspora, and now has some 40 hierarchs in over a dozen countries on four continents, including three other metropolitans in Poland, the United States, and Canada. The head of the church is Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, since March 2011

    Within Ukraine itself, the UGCC is a minority faith of the religious population, being a distant second to the majority Eastern Orthodox faith. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the second largest religious organization in Ukraine in terms of number of communities. In terms of number of faithful, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church ranks third in allegiance among the population of Ukraine, after the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyiv Patriarchate. Currently, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church predominates in three western oblasts of Ukraine, but constitutes a small minority elsewhere in the country.


    Before the Union of Brest

    The Ukrainian Catholic Church did not exist, as such, until the Union of Brest in the late 16th century, but its roots go back to the very beginning of Christianity in Mediaeval Slavic State of Rus'. The area of modern-day Ukraine was primarily influenced by Byzantine missionaries. The mission of Saints Cyril and Methodius was especially important as their development of the Cyrillic alphabet allowed the spread of worship in the Old Church Slavonic language. The Greek influence continued to until the Great Schism, when the Ruthenian (Rusyn) Church took sides, and became Orthodox.

    Following the Mongol annihilation of Kiev in the 13th century, the Metropolitan of Kiev moved to Vladimir in 1299. By 1326, the Metropolitan had settled in Moscow, and by 1328 had changed the title of Metropolitan of Kiev for the title Metropolitan of Moscow. The separate legal tradition of the Ruthenian Church, as differentiated from the Church in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, was codified in the decision of the first properly Russian Church Council of the Hundred Chapters ('Stoglav') in 1448, followed by the formal separation of the Church of Rus' into separate Russian (Muscovite) and Ruthenian (Kievan) Metropoliae in 1453.

    Union of Brest

    Religions in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1750:
      Greek Catholic 
    This situation continued for some time, and in the intervening years what is now Western and Central Ukraine came under the rule of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Polish king Sigismund III Vasa was heavily influenced by the ideals of the Counter-Reformation and wanted to increase the Catholic presence in Ukraine. Meanwhile the clergy of the Ruthenian lands were ruled from distant Constantinople, and much of the population showed loyalty to Orthodoxy rather than the Catholic monarch. Persecution of the Orthodox population grew, and under pressure of Polish authorities the clergy of the Ruthenian Church agreed by the Union of Brest in 1595 to break from the Patriarch of Constantinopole and unite with the Catholic Church under the sponsorship of the ruler of the Commonwealth, Sigismund III Vasa, in response for ending the persecution. The union was not accepted by all the members of the Greek Church in these lands, and marked the beginning of the creation of separate Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches on the lands of Ukraine and Belarus. Due to violence, the Metropolitan of the Kievan Greek Catholic Church left Kiev early in the 17th century and settled in Navahrudak (present Belarus) and Vilna in Lithuania.

    After the Union

    The Univ Lavra was established in 1400 by the ruler Lubart's son Theodore and remains the holiest monastery of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
    The final step of the full particularity of the Ukrainian Catholic Church was then effected by the development of the middle Ruthenian language into separate Rusyn, Ukrainian and Belarusian languages around 1600 to 1800. With Orthodoxy being largely suppressed during the two centuries of the Polish rule, the Greek-Catholic influence on the Ukrainian population was so great that in several oblasts hardly any remained Orthodox.

    After the partition of Poland, the formerly Greek-Catholic territory was mostly divided between Russia and Austria. In the Russian partition, which included Volhynia and Podolia, in the easternmost areas of Podolia the population quickly and voluntarily returned to Orthodoxy. Initially, the Russian authorities were extremely tolerant of the Greek-Catholic church and allowed it to function (calling them Basilians). However immediately the clergy was split into pro-Catholic and pro-Russian, with the former tending to convert to Latin Rite Catholicism, whilst the demands of the latter group led by Bishop Iosif Semashko (1798–1868) being firmly rejected by the ruling Greek-Catholic synod still largely controlled by the pro-Polish clergy with the Russian authorities largely refusing to interfere. The situation changed abruptly following Russia's successful suppression of the 1831 Polish uprising aimed at overthrowing the Russian control of the Polish territories. As the uprising was actively supported by the Greek-Catholic church, the crackdown on the Church became imminent. 

    The pro-Latin members of the Synod were removed and the Church began to disintegrate with its parishes in Volhynia reverting to the Orthodoxy including the 1833 transfer of the famous Pochaiv Lavra. In 1839 the Synod of Polotsk (Modern Belarus), under the leadership of Bishop Semashko, dissolved the Greek-Catholic church in the Russian Empire, and all its property was transferred to the Orthodox state church. The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia says that in what was then known as 'Little Russia' (now Ukraine), the pressure of the Russian Government "utterly wiped out" Greek Catholics, and "some 7,000,000 of the Uniats there were compelled, partly by force and partly by deception, to become part of the Russian Orthodox Church".

    The dissolution of the Greek-Catholic Church in Russia was complete in 1875 with the abolition of the Eparchy of Kholm.

    19th century: West Ukrainian period

    With the elimination of Ruthenian Catholics on the territory of the Russian Empire during the 19th century, the Pope of Rome granted the transfer of the quasi-patriarchal powers of the Major-Archiepiscopate of Kiev/Halych and all Rus to the Metropolitan of Lviv (Lemberg) in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1803. Suffragan sees included Ivano-Frankivsk (then called Stanislav) and Przemyśl. By the end of the century, the faithful of this church began emigrating to the U.S., Canada, and Brazil.

    In Austrian Polish partition that included Halychyna (modern Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and parts of Ternopil oblasts), the Greek-Catholic Ruthenian (Ukrainian) peasantry was largely under the Polish Latin Catholic domination. The Austrians granted equal legal privileges to the Greek-Catholic Church and removed Polish influence. They also mandated that Uniate seminarians receive a formal higher education (previously, priests had been educated informally by their fathers), and organized institutions in Vienna and Lviv that would serve this function. This led to the appearance, for the first time, of a large educated social class within the Ukrainian population in Halychyna. It also engendered a fierce sense of loyalty to the Habsburg dynasty. When Polish rebels briefly took control of Lviv in 1809, they demanded that the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Anton Anhelovych, have his Church substitute Napoleon's name in the Divine Liturgy for that of Austrian Emperor Francis II. He refused, and was imprisoned by the Poles. When the Austrians retook control over the city, Anhelovych was awarded the cross of Leopold by the Emperor.

    As a result of the reforms, within Austrian Halychyna over the next century the Greek-Catholic Church ceased being a puppet of foreign interests and became the primary cultural force within the Ukrainian community. Most independent native Ukrainian cultural and political trends (such as Rusynophilia, Russophilia and later Ukrainophilia) emerged from within the ranks of the Greek-Catholic Church clergy. The participation of Greek Catholic priests or their children in western Ukrainian cultural and political life was so great that western Ukrainians were accused of wanting to create a theocracy in western Ukraine by their Polish rivals. Among the political trends emerging from the priests of their families, the Christian social movement was particularly linked to the Ukrainian Catholic Church. For many people, the Austrians were seen as having saved the Ukrainians and their Church from the Poles.

    20th century: persecution and internationalization

    Construction new seat and cathedral in Kiev.
    Ukrainian Greek Catholics found themselves under the governance of the nations of Poland, Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia after World War I. Under the previous century of Austrian rule, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church attained such a strong Ukrainian national character that in the interwar Poland, the Greek Catholics of Galicia were seen by the nationalist Polish and Catholic state as even less reliable than the Orthodox Volhynians. Carrying its Polonisation policies throughout its Eastern Territories, the Polish authorities sought to weaken the UGCC in various ways. In 1924, following a visit with the Ukrainian Catholic believers in North America and western Europe, the head of the UGCC was initially denied reentry to Lviv only being allowed back after a considerable delay. Polish (Latin Rite) Roman Catholic priests, led by their Latin bishops, began to undertake missionary work among Greek Catholics, and administrative restrictions were placed on the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

    The aftermath of World War II placed Ukrainian Catholics under the rule of the Soviet Union and Soviet Bloc regimes, which using positions of only a few clergy called a synod in Lviv (Lvov) and annulled the Union of Brest. Whilst officially all of the church property was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate., some Ukrainian Greek Catholic clergy went underground. This catacomb church was strongly supported by the diaspora created by the mass emigration to the Western hemisphere, which had begun already in the 1870s and increased at the end of World War II.

    In the winter of 1944-45, Catholic clergy were summoned to 'reeducation' sessions conducted by the NKVD. Near the end of the war in Europe, the state media began an anti-Catholic campaign. The creation of the community in 1596 was discredited in publications that would later appear, which went to great pains to try to prove that the Catholic Church was conducting activities directed against Ukrainians in the first half of the 20th century.

    In 1945 Soviet authorities arrested, deported and sentenced to forced labor camps in Siberia and elsewhere the church's metropolitan Yosyf Slipyi and nine other Greek Catholic bishops, as well as hundreds of clergy and leading lay activists. In Lviv alone, 800 priests were imprisoned. All the above-mentioned bishops and significant part of clergymen died in prisons, concentration camps, internal exile, or soon after their release during the post-Stalin thaw. The exception was metropolitan Yosyf Slipyi who, after 18 years of imprisonment and persecution, was released thanks to the intervention of Pope John XXIII, arrived in Rome, where he received the title of Major Archbishop of Lviv, and became cardinal in 1965.

    For the clergy that joined the Russian Orthodox Church, the Soviet authorities refrained from the large-scale persecution of religion that was seen elsewhere in the country. In the city of Lviv, only one church was closed (at a time when many cities in the rest of Ukraine did not have a working church). Moreover, the western dioceses of Lviv-Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk were the largest in the USSR, holding the majority of the Russian Orthodox Church's cloisters (particularly convents, of which there were seven in Ukrainian SSR but none in Russia). Orthodox canon law was also relaxed on the clergy allowing them to shave beards (a practice uncommon to Orthodoxy) and conduct liturgy in Ukrainian as opposed to Church Slavonic.

    The Ukrainian Catholics continued to exist underground for decades and were the subject of vigorous attacks in the state media. The clergy gave up public exercise of their clerical duties, but secretly provided services for many lay people. Many priests took up civilian professions and celebrated the sacraments in private. The identities of former priests could have been known to the Soviet police who regularly watched them, interrogated them and put fines on them, but stopped short of arrest unless their activities went beyond a small circle of people. New secretly ordained priests were often treated more harshly.

    The church even grew during this time, and this was acknowledged by Soviet sources. The first secretary of the Lvov Komsomol, Oleksiy Babiychuk, claimed:
    in this oblast, particularly in the rural areas, a large number of the population adheres to religious practices, among them a large proportion of youth. In the last few years, the activity of the Uniates [Ukrainian Catholics] has grown, that of representatives of the Uniates as well as former Uniate priests; there are even reverberations to renew the overt activity of this Church.
    After Stalin died, Ukrainian Catholics hoped this would lead to better conditions for themselves, but such hopes were dashed in the late 50s when the authorities arrested even more priests and unleashed a new wave of anti-Catholic propaganda. Secret ordinations occurred in exile. Secret theological seminaries in Ternopol and Kolomyia were reported in the Soviet press in the 1960s when their organizers were arrested. In 1974 a clandestine convent was uncovered in Lvov.

    During the Soviet era, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church did flourish throughout the Ukrainian diaspora. Cardinal Yosyf Slipyi was jailed as a dissident but named in pectore (in secret) a cardinal in 1949; he was freed in 1963 and was the subject of an extensive campaign to have him named as a patriarch, which met with strong support as well as controversy. Pope Paul VI demurred, but compromised with the creation of a new title of major archbishop (assigned to Yosyf Slipyi on 23 December 1963 ), with a jurisdiction roughly equivalent to that of a patriarch in an Eastern church. This title has since passed to Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky in 1984 and thereafter to Lubomyr Husar in 2000 and Sviatoslav Shevchuk in 2011; this title has also been granted to the heads of three other Eastern Catholic Churches.

    In 1968, when the Ukrainian Catholic Church was legalized in Czechoslovakia, a large scale campaign was launched to harass recalcitrant clergy who remained illegal. These clergy were subject to interrogations, fines and beatings. In January 1969 the KGB arrested an underground Catholic bishop named Vasyl Velychkovsy and two Catholic priests, and sentenced them to three years of imprisonment for breaking anti-religious legislation.

    Activities that could lead to arrest included holding religious services, educating children as Catholics, performing baptisms, conducting weddings or funerals, hearing confessions or giving the last rites, copying religious materials, possessing prayer books, possessing icons, possessing church calendars, possessing religious books or other sacred objects. Conferences were held to discuss how to perfect the methodology in combatting Ukrainian Catholicism in the West Ukraine.

    At times the Ukrainian Catholics attempted to employ legal channels to have their community recognized by the state. In 1956-1957 there were petitions to the proper authorities to request for churches to be opened. More petitions were sent in the 60s and 70s, all of which were refused. In 1976, a priest named Volodymyr Prokipov was arrested for presenting such a petition to Moscow. The response to these petitions by the state had been to sharpen attacks against the community.

    In 1984 a samizdat Chronicle of the Catholic Church began to be published by Ukrainian Catholics. The founder of the group behind this publication, Yosef Terelya, was arrested in 1985 and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment and 5 years of exile. His successor, Vasely Kobryn, was arrested and sentenced to 3 years of exile.

    The Solidarity movement in Poland and Pope John Paul II supported the Ukrainian Catholics. The state media attacked John Paul II. The antireligious journal Liudyna i Svit (Man and the World) published in Kiev wrote:
    Proof that the Church is persistently striving to strengthen its political influence in socialist countries is witnessed by the fact that Pope John Paul II gives his support to the emigre hierarchy of the so-called Ukrainian Catholic Church . . .. The current tactic of Pope John Paul II and the Roman Curia lies in the attempts to strengthen the position of the Church in all socialist countries as they have done in Poland, where the Vatican tried to raise the status of the Catholic Church to a state within a state. In the last few years, the Vatican has paid particular attention to the question of Catholicism of the Slavonic nations. This is poignantly underscored by the Pope when he states that he is not only a Pope of Polish origin, but the first Slavic Pope, and he will pay particular attention to the Christianization of all Slavic nations.
    By the late 1980s there was a shift in the Soviet government's attitude towards religion. At the height of Mikhail Gorbachev's liberalization reforms the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was allowed again to function officially in December 1989. But then it found itself largely in disarray with the nearly all of its pre-1946 parishes and property lost to the Orthodox faith. The church, actively supported by nationalist organisations such as Rukh and later the UNA-UNSO, took an uncompromising stance towards the return of its lost property and parishes. According to a Greek-Catholic priest, "even if the whole village is now Orthodox and one person is Greek Catholic, the church [building] belongs to that Catholic because the church was built by his grandparents and great-grandparents." The weakened Soviet authorities were unable to pacify the situation, and most of the parishes in Halychyna came under the control of the Greek-Catholics during the events of a large scale interconfessional rivalry that was often accompanied by violent clashes of the faithful provoked by their religious and political leadership. These tensions led to a rupture of relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Vatican.

    Modern times

    St. George's Church in Chervonohrad.
    Currently the church has between 3 and 5 million supporters in Ukraine. Numerous surveys conducted since the late 1990s consistently show that between 6% and 8% of Ukraine's total population, or 9.4% to 12.6% of the country's religious believers, identify themselves as belonging to this Church. Worldwide, the faithful now number some 6 to 10 million, forming the largest particular Catholic Church, after the majority Latin Rite Church. Within Ukraine, the Greek Catholic Church is increasing at the expense of the majority Orthodox Church, due to higher birth rates and lower death rates among its members.

    Today, most Ukrainian Catholic Churches have moved away from Church Slavonic and use Ukrainian. Many churches also offer liturgies in the official language of the country the Church is in, for example, German in Germany or English in Canada; however, some parishes continue to celebrate the liturgy in Slavonic even today, and services in a mix of languages are not unusual.

    In the early first decade of the 21st century, construction began for the transfer of the major see of the Ukrainian Catholic Church back to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. However, this move remains controversial for some Ukrainian Catholics, who view Lviv in Western Ukraine as the true stronghold of Ukrainian Catholicism, having supported and protected the Ukrainian Catholic Church through long periods of persecution. Moving the Ukrainian Catholic Church to Kiev, therefore, has taken on political overtones in the Church. The move tends to be supported by those people who favour the appointment of a Ukrainian Catholic Patriarch to oversee the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

    de-Latinization of ceremonies and practices

    The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church previously embarked on a campaign of de-Latinization reforms. These include the removal of the stations of the cross, the rosary and the monstrance from their liturgy and parishes. In response a group, the Society of Saint Josaphat (abbreviated as SSJK) has formed, with a seminary in Lviv. It currently has thirty students enrolled and is affiliated with the Society of St. Pius X.

    Critics claim that the SSJK's liturgical practice favours severely abbreviated services and imported Roman Catholic devotions over the traditional and authentic practices of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Proponents counter that these symbols and rituals, influenced long ago by their Polish Roman Catholic neighbors, have been practiced by Ukrainian Greek Catholics for centuries. To deny them today is to deprive the people of a part of sacred heritage which they have learned to regard as their own.

    Protest movements

    In 2001 a priest, Vasyl Kovpak, and a small group of followers opposed to certain policies (such as de-latinisation) and ecumenism of the UGCC hierarchy, organized themselves as the Priestly Society of Saint Josaphat. The PSSJ possesses close ties with the Latin Rite Traditionalist Catholic Society of Saint Pius X, which rejects and condemns certain actions and policies of both Husar and the Pope. On November 21, 2007 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith excommunicated Kovpak.

    In 2008, a group of Basilian priests at the Pidhirtsi monastery declared that four of them had been consecrated bishops without permission of the Pope or the Major Archbishop. The "Pidhirtsi fathers" had opposed de-latinisation, liberal theology, and the ecumenical approach of the hierarchy. Excommunicated in 2008, in 2009 they constituted themselves as the Ukrainian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church.


    • "Ruthenians". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
    •  St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Winnipeg, Historical Timeline of the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat
    • Himka, John Paul. (1999). Religion and Nationality in Western Ukraine. McGill-Queen's University Press: Montreal and Kingston.
    • Orientales Omnes Ecclesias, Encyclical on the Reunion of the Ruthenian Church with Rome His Holiness Pope Pius XII, Promulgated on December 23, 1945.
    • "Greek Catholics in America". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
    • Gudziak, Borys A. (2001). Crisis and Reform: The Kyivan Metropolitanate, The Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the Genesis of the Union of Brest. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, MA
    • Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, p. 75, Westview Press, 2003, ISBN 0-8133-4067-5.