Your Good and Your Gain

The following is from the first pastoral letter of Blessed Bishop-Martyr Nykyta (Nicetas) Budka given in Winnipeg on Flowery (Palm) Sunday, April 20, 1913. Translation into English from the original Ukrainian by Michael Shykula and Bernard Korchinski.

When I accepted this heavy cross, I did so convinced that this happened not for me, or because of me, or for my sake, but that it was the Lord’s will that I fill this very responsible position. While in this office I must answer to God and mankind for the welfare of those people who, in the midst of physical and spiritual privation, offered incessant prayers and pleadings to Almighty God, protector of the abandoned, for a bishop of their own. I must not think of personal gain or loss, because I feel as though I were the Moses and Aaron of the Canadian Ukrainians who, in the desert of abandonment and bitter circumstances of life, asked for a bishop to lead them, organize them, and protect them. To the people transplanted on what is to them foreign soil, I must be “everything and all,” that they may live decently as civilized people should, that they may gain a purpose for their earthly life and everlasting happiness in the hereafter. Your good and your gain, my dear people, were the deciding factor in my acceptance of the office of your first bishop. Similarly, the Holy Father, the Pope of Rome, had only your welfare in mind when he agreed to appoint a bishop for the Canadian Ukrainians, a bishop with full Episcopal authority. And this happened sooner than anyone expected.

The office of a bishop is more a burden than an honour. Our Saviour asked St. Peter: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” And when St. Peter answered sincerely that he loved the Saviour, then he heard the Lord say: “If you love me then be a shepherd to my sheep!” Therefore, when the office of the leadership of Christ’s faithful is proof of the love of Jesus our Lord, who then even the weakest, would not accept the guidance of the Lord’s people and would not wish to demonstrate, with his acceptance that He loves the Highest, the Best and the Greatest Arch-shepherd, our Saviour.

All my hope I place in him, the great Arch-shepherd, our Saviour. He, who created the pillars of his Church out of the spiritless slaves whom he made, by his grace, into the first Apostles – he will grant me the strength to carry out his will.

The purest Virgin, Mother of the whole Ukrainian nation, will also shield us here in Canada. I placed my eparchy, the largest in the world, under her protection. I placed myself, and all my people and their spiritual and physical needs into her care.

– from the first pastoral letter of Blessed Bishop-Martyr Nykyta (Nicetas) Budka given in Winnipeg on Flowery (Palm) Sunday, April 20, 1913. Translation into English from the original Ukrainian by Michael Shykula and Bernard Korchinski.

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