It will surprise no one when we say that we tend to be more interested in matters—both liturgical and ecclesiastical—touching upon the Latin Rite. And like many Latin Rite Catholics, we simply do not have a lot of experience with the Eastern Churches. Nevertheless, we are acquainted with many sharp young Catholics who feel very much at home in the Eastern Churches. It is easy to understand why they do when one sees the videos of the consecration of the Church of St. Elias the Prophet in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. The Ukrainian Catholic community there is very vibrant (as Eastern Catholic communities always seem to be), led by its longtime pastor, Fr. Roman Galadza. Some people we respect very much—including good and holy priests—think the world of Fr. Galadza and St. Elias. As you may know, St. Elias has had to rebuild its church after a fire. After two and a half years of work and prayer, the new church was consecrated last month. Patriarch Sviatoslav of Kiev presided over the ceremonies.
We urge you watch the videos—even the condensed, “highlights” version—to get a taste of the extraordinary event. Obviously, the dedication of any church is a special event, but the dedication of St. Elias seemed to us to be particularly special. We were told by someone with knowledge that Fr. Galadza made a conscious decision many years ago to require the congregation as a whole to be responsible for music, not merely a choir. And the fruits of that decision are amply on display in even the shorter video. But the musical competence was only one part of the overall impression of the liturgy there. On the whole, it reminds us of Thomas Merton’s description of the Mass he attended at the church of Corpus Christi in New York: “There was nothing new or revolutionary about it; only that everything was well done, not out of aestheticism or rubrical obsessiveness, but out of love for God and His truth. It would certainly be ingratitude of me if I did not remember the atmosphere of joy, light, and at least relative openness and spontaneity that filled Corpus Christi at solemn High Mass.” (Emphasis supplied.)
If you do nothing else, watch Patriarch Sviatoslav’s homily, delivered (nearly simultaneously) in both English and Ukrainian—without notes. It is easy to understand, having seen him in action, why he is so hated by the partisans of the Moscow Patriarchate. As a friend of ours said about him: as he talks, one begins to want to follow him. He has the charisma of a true pastor. And, having read some interviews and other writings with him, it is clear that he takes seriously the apostolic duty of preserving and handing on the deposit of faith, to say nothing of his duty of preserving the liturgy and traditions of the Ukrainian Catholics, who have suffered much for the sake of the Faith. Even if one is a Latin-rite Catholic to one’s core, it is hard not to feel a little envious of the Ukrainian Catholics, having a patriarch like Sviatoslav at the head of their Church.
At any rate, do take some time and watch the consecration videos. They’re something special.