THE EAST MEETS WITH THE WEST THERE
Fr. MAREK ŁUCZAK
Today the area of the Lvov archdiocese is nearly 70 thousand km2, nearly 155 thousand of the faithful and over 300 active churches. However, a real reason for proud is undoubtedly the imposing tradition. This year the local Catholic Church of the Latin rite is celebrating the 600th anniversary of its existence.
The Jubilee Year of the 600th anniversary of transferring the capital of Lvov archbishops from Halicz to Lvov began on 1 February 2012. This day the Archbishop Lvov Metropolitan Mieczysław Mokrzycki entrusted the archdiocese to the Blessed God’s Mother Mary. The jubilee joy became a participation of bishops, presbyters, nuns, Catholic associations and movements. Celebrations were planned for all states of the Church, various pastoral actions, among the others, for families, children, youth, the ill, farmers and prisoners.
From Lvov to Polish Republic
Everything started in the XIV century when from the inspiration of Kazimierz Wielki church dignitaries were trying to organize religious life in Lvov, giving this city the status of metropolis. In 1412 the bishop capital is transferred from Halicz to Lvov successfully and it is the beginning of a beautiful card of history of the Catholic Church on this area.
In 1909, to the request of Archbishop Józef Bilczewski Pius X set up a Day of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Queen of Poland celebrated in the Lvov archdiocese, assigning it on the first Sunday of May, for the memory of vows of Jan Kazimierz and he proclaimed the God’s Mother the Queen of the Polish Crown and the blessed Jakub Strzemia – the patrons of the Lvov archdiocese. In 1910 the Blessed Virgin Mary the Queen of Poland was proclaimed the main patron of the archdiocese. At present the Blessed Merciful Virgin Mary is the patron, whose Day is celebrated on 1 April, on the anniversary of the vows of the king of Poland Jan Kazimierz in the Lvov cathedral from 1656. No wonder that this day has been inscribed with gold syllables in the history of the city and archdiocese, but it is vain to look for a more significant event. King Jan Kazimierz vowed civil freedom to the nobility and the improvement of peasants’ life to ordinary people. This act was to raise Poles to a fight against the Swedish and also guarantee the care of the Queen of Poland to Poles.
The same for centuries...
The I Eucharistic Congress which is taking place on 26 May - 4 June 2012 has a special significance for the jubilee celebrations of the Lvov archdiocese. Bishops of both the Latin Catholic Church and the Greek-Catholic Church are going to participate in the solemn ending. Bishops, among the others, from Poland, Czech Republic and Romania are going to be present. Cardinal Angelo Comastri is going to be the representative of the Pope and he is going to pass the papal message. There are also going to be the representatives of other religions.
So, the Lvov celebration of the Congress ending will be the crowning achievement of the celebrations commemorating the jubilee of the archdiocese. It was preceded by little celebrations taking place in particular parishes nearly in whole Ukraine. – Articles and conferences allowed us to understand what the Eucharist is for our life – added Bishop of Ludz - Marcjan Trofimiak , presiding over the organizational committee. – There also appeared an initiative that our faithful should share material goods with those who need them the most. Jan Szczin from the organizational committee was saying about an idea accompanying the Congress. – ‘Jesus Christ – yesterday and today, the same also for centuries’ (Letter to the Hebrews 13.8) is a motto of our Congress. Christ as a man lived for 33 years on the Earth and ascended to the Heaven. Therefore the topic of the Congress is connected with this mystery: although years are passing, Christ remains the same, present in the Eucharist.
Archbishop Mokrzycki emphasized that the Eucharistic Congress was a great event in the spiritual life of the nation. – It should deepen our faith and love to Jesus in Eucharist, strengthen the unity of the faithful with Him and help everybody to realize how great gift Eucharist is - added the hierarch who is also the representative of the Episcopate of Ukraine. He reminded that preparations for this event had lasted for many months and comprised all dioceses and Catholic parishes in this country. Priest Archbishop also noted that it had been the first such a Congress in the modern times of Ukraine. In the Lvov archdiocese it took place in 1930. He also announced that the Congress, apart from the spiritual one, will also have material dimension because all the money collected during it will be given to the Catholics of the diocese of Kiszyniów in Moldavia to build a church in Nadniestr where the Church is experiencing a difficult period at present.
On the occasion of the Jubilee of the 600th anniversary of the Archdiocese in Lvov it will be possible to gain complete indulgences. It will be possible on the days of the solemn beginning and ending of the jubilee in all the churches of the Lvov archdiocese.
Moreover, it will be possible to gain indulgences while visiting assigned churches and participating in the jubilee celebrations, publicly celebrated divine services which should be ended with the Lord’s Prayer, faith confession and call to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It will be possible to gain indulgences, among the others, in the Archdiocesan basilica in Lvov, in the sanctuary of St. Antoni from Padua and many other churches in Ukraine. Elderly and ill people and everybody, who cannot leave their houses, can also gain indulgences, after getting rid of any sin and with the intention of fulfilling three ordinary conditions when it is possible, if they spiritually join the jubilee celebrations or pilgrimages.
The material dimension of the jubilee will be expressed through care about the deserted churches, crosses and figures by roads and graveyards.
Against the wind of present times
At present in the archdiocese there are 305 active churches and 107 Catholic parishes. In the very city a church in Sychów is being built and a church in Zboiska has been built. Besides, two other churches outside Lvov are being built. Moreover, many returned churches are destroyed and they require rebuilding with which high costs are connected.
In 2005 Lvov Cardinal Lubomyr Huzar and Marian Jaworski decided that Latin Catholics would give the church of St. Kazimierz to the Greek Catholics and the latter ones would return the church of Our Candlemas Lady, previously belonging to a seminary. But although the authorities gave back this first church to the eastern Catholics, the Latin Catholics have not received their previous church till today which they need so much. – Even the request of Benedict XVI did not bring any result and which was addressed to the Cardinal Huzar and Archbishop Wozniak in 2007 in Vatican – complained the Metropolitan of Lvov. He added that similar difficulties exist in the attempts to regain a few other previous Latin Catholic churches in the city.
The Lvov Archdiocese is still struggling with the rebuilding of the residence of Lvov archbishops of the Latin rite in Lvov. The building, returned in 2004 after 60 years of exploitation by the State Institute, was very destroyed in the times of the Soviet Union and its renewal demands bigger contributions than it was expected in the beginning.
Similarly there is a situation with the churches and other places of cult which after the period of material degradation are waiting for better times. However, as the Archbishop Mokrzycki assures, the biggest concern of priests are not economical but spiritual issues today. – People after the years of communism are leaving their faith today and the situation is becoming the biggest pastoral challenge – he says.