As discarded Christmas trees lay in heaps on city sidewalks surrounding Our Lady of Fatima Russian Byzantine Catholic Church in San Francisco, parishioners of the Eastern-rite parish observed Christmas Day which they call The Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone was a special guest and participant in this year’s Divine Liturgy celebrated by Father Kevin Kennedy, pastor, with Deacon Kyrill Pagacz and three altar servers. Our Lady of Fatima Russian Byzantine Catholic Church is a parish of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Divine Liturgy is the name for the Mass in the Russian Byzantine Church. Congregants are separated from celebrants by a curtained altar during the liturgy and remain active and standing throughout it.

In his homily, Father Kennedy said the Byzantine liturgy is very specific with very exalted language for God. “God is incomprehensible, almighty, omnipotent, eternal,” he said. “And he is all those things.”

But God created us for a “transforming union” with himself by becoming one with his own creation and human realities, he said.

“God enters into that reality as a baby, as a child. And there is no room for him,” Father Kennedy said. “That’s the first reality.”

Christ experiences all our vulnerabilities except for sin, he said. “That vulnerability is God’s Christmas gift to us so that the omnipotent one might also be the one who can be touched and seen. We are not alone. He journeys with us and is part of us, sharing with us all that it is to be human.”

Full story at Catholic San Francisco.