By Deacon Kevin Bezner
On Sunday, June 2, George Weigel presented his lecture “Twentieth Century and Twenty-First Century Mission: Eastern Catholics and the Universal Church” at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia.
The lecture was part of the opening day ceremonies for the installation of Bishop Borys Gudziak as the Archbishop for the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia and the Metropolitan for the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States.
In his lecture, Weigel makes a number of important points for our particular church and the universal Church. First Things has published the lecture online. I encourage you to read the entire lecture.
Our saints and martyrs
"When we think of the witness of Eastern Catholics in the twentieth century, and particularly of the witness of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, our minds naturally turn first to the great men and women who held firm to the Catholic and apostolic faith during the starvations and slaughters of the mid-twentieth century, and during the communist persecution that followed. We think of the New Ukrainian Martyrs beatified by John Paul II during his pastoral pilgrimage to Ukraine in 2001; we think of the many martyrs whose names are not in the Church’s liturgical calendar, but who nonetheless “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14) and now reign with him forever. We think of the Venerable Andrey Sheptytsky, and pray that his beatification is not long delayed. We remember the Servant of God Josyf Slipyj, whose witness in the Gulag inspired novelist Morris West to create a fictional—and perhaps even prophetic—Ukrainian pope in The Shoes of the Fisherman."
Our faithfulness to our martyrs
"In my commencement address at the Ukrainian Catholic University in 2013, I challenged the graduates to be faithful to the martyrs whose sacrifice laid the foundation on which UCU was built. That challenge applies equally to all Ukrainian Greek Catholics wherever they live, in Ukraine or in the diaspora, just as it applies to every Catholic, whatever rite they practice."
"In thinking of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s witness in the twentieth century, though, we should remember more than blood and martyrs; we should think of a Church that became a safe deposit box of national identity, memory, and culture when malign forces sought to erase the very idea of “Ukraine” from the world’s vocabulary. We remember how Metropolitan Borys and an intrepid band of brothers and sisters realized the dreams of Andrey Sheptytsky and Josyf Slipyj and built a great Catholic center of higher learning un Ukraine—a university that would deepen and broaden the culture that Sheptytsky in particular did so much to both preserve and nourish."
"…the adoration-centered liturgy … is so important for the world Church, and indeed for the world."
Our attention to the Church Fathers
"Eastern Catholicism’s immersion in the Fathers also teaches the world Church to practice the ecumenism of time, giving a voice in the current deliberations of the Church to those who have gone before, and whose theology and preaching have passed the test of time in proving their spiritual fecundity."
Our mission, and the Church's
"…this Archeparchy and its suffragans, like the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the entire Latin-rite Church throughout the United States, must become once again a missionary enterprise: a Church in which everyone understands himself or herself to be a missionary disciple who was given the Great Commission at baptism; a Church in which every one of those missionary disciples understands that he or she is entering “mission territory” every day—at home, at work, in the neighborhood, in our lives as citizens, and in our lives as consumers."