Monday 1 July 2013

Patriotic Pastoral on Dominion Day

Bishop Budka's letter commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation - 1917

Despite accusations to the contrary by his opponents, the Government of Canada always considered Bishop Nykyta Budka to be a key collaborator, especially since he encouraged his fellow Ukrainian immigrants to become faithful and productive Canadians. Below is an English translation of a pastoral letter, written to his flock on 26 June 1917, to commemorate the 50th jubilee of Confederation:

On the first of July of this year, all Canada will celebrate the 50th Jubilee of Confederation. On this occasion I write these few words to You, My Dear Faithful.

The first two hundred years of the known history of Canada were filled with conflicts over the possession of this new land, and they ended with the Treaty of Paris in the year 1763, when France renounced all rights to Canada and Canada became a British colony. The struggle over the the form of government and the efforts for the progress of Canada filled the next hundred years of history under the rule of Great Britain.  In the year 1840 the so-called Lower and Upper Canada (Ontario and Quebec) united in one entity by an Act of Union by the British Government and thenceforth parliaments and a governor have governed a united Canada. But certain statesmen, who are known as the Fathers of Confederation,  in each of the individual provinces of British North America, wanted to see all the provinces united in one entity.  When this idea became generally accepted, the sought-after British North America Act was issued by Queen Victoria, and it came into force on 1 July 1867.  [...]

Thus, the first day of July is called Dominion Day in Canada, as the British North America Act established the the constitution of Canada which is in force to this day.  On 1 July of this year 50 years will have passed since this important event, and this day will be thus solemnly commemorated everywhere in Canada. The British North America Act is the foundation of Canadian freedom, which has attracted millions of immigrant settlers here, among whom are we freedom-seeking Ukrainians.  In taking advantage of Canadian freedom, we also have the duty to  know her history and to rejoice in those advantages which developed from the wise and progressive foundations which were laid by Queen Victoria and the Fathers of Confederation.

This July 1 is the day when Canada will commemorate its fiftieth year of life as an independent country and as a free part of the British Empire. When we look back at those 50 years in the life of Canada, we see that her rapid  progress, in such a short time, is not found anywhere else in the history of nations. Railways, schools, cities, roads, commerce, manufacturing etc., indeed the whole appearance and life of Canada has so advanced in these 50 years that we can only attribute this progress to the particular blessing of God, to Whom we must render thanks on this 1 July.  In embracing this historical jubilee day, every citizen and resident of Canada can only thank God for a 50 year-achievement which shines in our eyes so brightly and in which light we live today. We thank the Giver of all good for all the things with which He has blessed the wonderful country in which we have the honor and good fortune to live.

And when we remember that, today, in the name and for the sake of our Dominion, thousands of her citizens have borne their breasts to fire and bayonet, we stand in solidarity with them Everyone must see that it is in the interest of all Canadian citizens that the sacrifice of her citizens will bring Canada the greatest glory and advantage.  Thus, on this jubilee day, we lay before the altar of the Almighty and Just God our ardent prayers, that He would deign to shorten the days of war to the glory and honour of all Canadians. On this day, let us forget where we came from and let us be only by citizens of our Dominion and rejoice in her first fiftieth jubilee.  May this be a day of rejoicing for all citizens of Canada, with a joy which unites one to another and all of us to the Dominion. May this be a true Dominion Day!

The Federal Government and all the provinces individually want this celebration to be marked especially in churches with thanksgiving for the past and with petitions for the prosperous future of Canada. Citizens should make every effort so that this jubilee Dominion Day will be long remembered. I desire that all of my Dear Faithful, especially children, worthily and actively celebrate this holiday.  And it is with this in mind that I am writing this letter explaining it to them.  Accordingly, I decree that:

On this day, let everyone celebrate together. Let the children go to the children’s hall of the school where they went during the last school year. Let everyone take part in the speeches, celebrations, parades, and processions which are scheduled in their areas on 1 and 2 July. And in the churches let us pray to God for Canada our home; for her and our happy future. On the Sunday the 1st of  July, the Revrerend Pastors shall also add to the ordinary second intention and Ektene [litany] of Peace the intention of thanksgiving for the past blessings of Canada and a petition for her happy future, and the ektene for general intention of the citizens of Canada. After the [liturgical] celebration, let the children sing: God save the King.  A short lesson on the meaning of this jubilee Dominion Day is to be given at the Church services or preferably during the public celebrations, so that everyone would understand the reason for rejoicing and be edified.

May the Loving Lord bless You all with a happy future.      +Nykyta