Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon

214 Avenue M South     Saskatoon, SK    S7M 2K4   Canada

Office: (306) 653-0138                      email:

Fax: (306) 665-2569                          personal email:


Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!  Dear Brother Knights,

Christmas – The Holy Family and Freedom

Freedom is a Christmas gift every person should receive. It is given to a person by God and by others. Real freedom is fuelled by love and found only in the context of love. Where there is love there is freedom and visa versa. However, what does it cost?  

Recently a friend shared with me how the time had come to take the training wheels off his bike. Way back, when this 5 year old boy demanded his father remove the training wheels from his bike, he wanted to be free, declaring basically that he wanted to ride freely.

This scenario repeats itself so many times throughout our lives. Whether we are the little person wanting to express a right to freedom or the loving parent protecting a dependent child from getting hurt as they make new choices, freedom is found in the context of relationships. Even today, the desire you have to make a choice and to exercise your freedom (and remove some form of training wheels) is always found in the context of relationships, in the context of a society and in the context of a family that is essentially a number of very personal relationships. Freedom is a “gift from God recognized by others” so to speak.

Consequently, the importance of the family, the domestic church, comes into sharp focus. This is the context in which every single human being learns the mystery, the challenge and the meaningfulness of freedom. It is a gift given by God because He created us for this, to freely love God “with all our heart, soul, mind and strength” and love your neighbour as yourself. This is one thing we learn from the Holy Family. Since it is a gift from God, no one has the right to withhold freedom from any individual with regard to so many things in life. By virtue of a person being human, this gift of freedom has to be recognized by others.

Freedom is a gift that is wrapped in responsibility. It has to be recognized as part of human development. Said differently, freedom is given to us from our parents and brothers and sisters as they recognize it or acknowledge it. My freedom is the fruit of everyone else’s responsibility. To the extent a person’s freedom is not recognized by their family, a person struggles to discover this gift from God. Several people in your family and circle of friends protected you and by sharing gospel values, provided for you. Although it happens gradually, at some point (perhaps over several years), they give you your freedom (recognize God’s gift to you as you develop). A person’s freedom is sustained by everyone else.

Ironically, the call each person has to be free entails a call to a deeper commitment to others. Freedom is always “from and for” like a magnet that has a “north and south” attraction – freedom from coercion and slavery and freedom for God.  Freedom is not cutting ties from others but strengthening and reinforcing relationships of mutual respect. Others have to pay the price of my freedom and I have to pay the price of theirs. In the end, every person is free to sin or be wrong as much as they are free to do good, live the truth and love God. Freedom has consequences. Freedom that is free of consequences is a false freedom.

This is beauty of the domestic church, the Holy Family. Let us reflect this Christmas on the freedom each of us has, how God gives it to us and how we discovered it more and more in our families growing up. May the Holy Family be the source of life for your domestic church, where people discover freedom; the gift you can enjoy because of the sacrifice of others; the gift others enjoy because of your sacrifice.  That is what it costs to give the gift of freedom. Freedom is a relationship of love for the other.

In Christ,

Most Reverend Bishop Bryan Bayda, CSsR
State Chaplain
Eparch of the Eparchy of Saskatoon