newsworks.org - Only a few structures still stand in what was Centralia, Pennsylvania. Even fewer are visible through the tree cover from the top of an adjacent mountain overlooking what was once a thriving community.

The most notable and recognizable structure is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, whose bright-blue domes rise out of the foliage on the side of the mountain. Though all but seven of the town’s residents relocated because of the ongoing fire in the anthracite coal mine below its surface, the church continues to serve a successful parish.

On Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, the church was the site of the second annual “A Call to Prayer” pilgrimage. Two years ago, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Sviatoslav Shevchuk visited the church and suggested it as a place for pilgrimage. He marveled at the beauty of the property, the number of vocations from the parish, its rich history in Centralia, and qualities about it that are endearing to prayer and a place for gathering.

 

“Father [Michael] Hutsko, the pastor here … He was enthusiastic about it. He arranged it with the parishioners,” said Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka. “A tremendous amount of work went into it, but it’s all joyous work on their part …. Isn’t that the best gift? That you not only pray for your own needs but you provide for the journey of faith of others.”

A few hundred pilgrims traveled from as far as Washington, D.C.; New Brunswick, New Jersey; and Philadelphia to focus on their spiritual lives for the afternoon in Centralia. People crowded into the church and out onto the grounds for divine liturgy with Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka as the main celebrant.

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Teachings of Christ

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Christ is Born!

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, * has dawned upon the world the light of knowledge. * for through it, those who served the stars * were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness * and to know You, the Dawn from on high. * Glory to You, O Lord! (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, * and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. * Angels and shepherds sing His glory; * Wise Men journey with a star * for there is born for us an infant Child, the God Who is before all ages. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching." (Proverbs 4:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Guard thyself then, O man; thou hast the signs of Antichrist; and remember them not only thyself, but impart them also freely to all. If thou hast a child according to the flesh, admonish him of this now; if thou hast begotten one through catechizing, put him also on his guard, test he receive the false one as the True. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work. I fear these wars of the nations; I fear the schisms of the Churches; I fear the mutual hatred of the brethren. But enough on this subject; only God forbid that it should be fulfilled in our days; nevertheless, let us be on our guard. And thus much concerning Antichrist.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture XV