Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada


In today's Epistle (Ephesians 5:9-19) we find our teacher, the Holy Apostle Paul, exhorting us to address "one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father".

Are we conscious of the fact that as we move about in this world we are never alone? Do we know that we are always in the presence of God, the Angels and the Saints? This is a very useful and soothing piece of information. We shall be able to deal with the loneliness and alienation that often abounds at this time of year if we keep recalling this wonderful truth: we are always and everywhere part of and in the mystical Body of Christ, the Church. It is certainly important to have contact with people who are there physically as well. But, particularly in this time of the Nativity Fast (Advent) we ought to endeavour to strengthen our spiritual bond with the blessed spiritual beings mentioned above.

Being aware of their continual presence in the world around us can have the helpful effect making it easier for us to follow God's Ten Commandments. Above all it can help us avoid breaking the Third Commandment: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain". We shall not swear so easily, using the name of the Lord or sacred things, if we keep a lively awareness that He is always there with us, hearing every thing we say and think. Certainly we need to mention God, the Holy Ones and sacred things - often, but only in the way that Paul has just told us to do - in useful and blessed conversation.

The people of Ukrainian accepted Paul's teaching in a most profound way. They have many sayings recognizing and welcoming God's presence in daily life. For example, "Praise the Lord" is used very often. We mention the departed with reverence, making the sign of the Cross. When we come across someone who is working, we say: "May God help you". Particularly in the western province of Ukraine, people commonly greet each other with the words: "Glory to Jesus Christ" to which comes the response: "Glory forever".

We should not swear nor should we ever ignore the spiritual world which surrounds us. One day we shall be in it! How will we feel then if we have always ignored it, giving pain to the Lord, the Angels and the Saints, as well as to the blessed departed ones: by our careless words, our sinful actions and above all by the thoughts which we welcome in our minds.

Now is a very good time to turn around - to repent. The Lord is merciful. He knows how difficult it is for us to live Christian lives in the minds of all the temptations and trials which come upon us from within as well as from without. He is always more than ready to forgive and help us. But we must ask Him for these things. We must at least try to do right.

The Lord Jesus Christ is continually knocking at the door of our heart (Revelation 3:20). But it is we who must open the door and let Him in. Let us do it now!

V. Rev. Ihor George Kutash