Maksym Tymo, a teacher at the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) and himself an UCU graduate, talked to Radio Resurrection about the spiritual meaning of Christian holidays like Christmas and Theophany [the Baptism of Jesus]. Translated excerpts follow.
“A big holy day always recalls an important event,” said Tymo. “This recollection is not simply the acknowledgement of a historical fact, that is, what happened once, but, a liturgical memory, a revelation of the event, when we experience it anew, again more deeply understanding the meaning of what happened. Because Christmas and Theophany are not limited by history. This has significance for today, for us, modern people, and for all generations of Christians in all times.”
The second sign of a Christian holy day, said Tymo, is the connection with God. “So there is an alternation of ordinary days and holy days in the calendar and in our lives. Ordinary days are important; this is our daily life with its obligations to people and God. And holy days ‘crown’ these ordinary days. They give them meaning… Many important things fall into the dust of everyday life, but on holy days we remember these slightly forgotten things. We recall God.”
And the third element of a holy day is a connection with other people. The essence, emphasized Tymo, is not so much in the food which is on the table, though this is important, but that together, in a circle of those close to us, we experience the mystery of an encounter with God. Yes, there are traditional, special foods, but one shouldn’t forget the occasion for which they are prepared.
“These holy days are a blessed time with which we end and begin the calendar year. Blessed because, as we celebrate, we emphasize that the Lord comes to us to be with us and show His love to us. For a Christian, this is a real reason for joy,” said Tymo.
[Source of original Ukrainian-language text: Information Department of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church]