Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War
A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, August 14-20, 2023
Amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian people exemplify remarkable resilience and unwavering faith. From the relentless nights of war to the unwavering dedication of the Capuchin brothers providing essential ministry and support, these stories shed light on the transformative power of faith and the indomitable spirit of the Ukrainian people. As we explore their journeys, we witness their determination to rise above adversity, their unwavering hope for a just peace, and the profound influence of their faith in guiding them through the darkest times.
Night 536: More rockets bring more death.
Yesterday morning, a great tragedy occurred. Russian terrorists with their rockets killed an entire family in the village of Shiroka Balka in the Kherson region. The family included a husband, wife and a baby daughter who was born 23 days earlier. Her 12-year-old brother died a few hours after the attack in the hospital.
In addition to this family, five middle-aged people were also killed, and many homes were ruined or damaged. God, give us a just peace.
St. Maximilian’s life is God’s word to us. Especially the giving of his life for another human is the Word. “Moses said to the people, ‘And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God demand of you? Only that you fear the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, love Him, serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and obey the commands of the Lord and His laws, which I give you today for your good.’
“‘You also love the sojourner, for you yourselves were sojourners in the land of Egypt.’”
We live in war; we do not live by war.
In Latyczow, the diocesan shrine of Our Lady of Latyczów hosted a pilgrimage of young people from Neocatechumenal communities.
Night 537: Celebrating the Assumption amidst the carnage of war.
We had a very restless night, with all of Ukraine “red” and under threat.
The terrorists’ rockets flew into Lviv and Yavoriv, 15 kilometers from the Polish border. In Lviv, fractions of rockets hit a kindergarten, stores, houses and residential buildings, setting fires; there were no casualties. In Lutsk and Volhynia, though, there were civilian casualties; in Dnieper, buildings were destroyed.
God is giving us the Word in abundance today. “A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a wreath of twelve stars.”
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven: ‘Now has come salvation, the power and reign of our God, and the authority of His Anointed One.’”
“Christ rose from the dead as the firstborn from among those who died. For since through Man came death, through Man also will the resurrection take place. And as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive, but each according to his own order: Christ as the firstborn, then those who belong to Christ, at His coming. Finally, the end will come when He hands over the reign to God and the Father, and when He overcomes all Authority, Power and Authority.”
Like Mary, “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For He has looked upon the humbling of His Servant. For, behold, henceforth I shall be blessed by all generations, for great things has the Almighty done to me.”
God is love!
On Aug. 13, we continued a “Rosary Uprising” in Krasilow’s main square, next to the statue of Mary. Since 2017, we have met on the 13th day of each month with the faithful to pray for the intentions arranged six years ago by Br. Piotr Kurkiewicz — intentions that today seem ever more relevant.
In Lviv this week, we had a breakfast with Franciscan youth and supporters of St. Francis on St. Maximilian’s feast day.
There are changes in our religious communities today in our custody of Ukraine: We extend a warm welcome to Br. Maciej Podolc, who is now in Vinnitsa.
Night 538: Where two or three gather … peace may prevail.
We had another night of rocket attacks, with all of Ukraine “red” again overnight. God, give us a just peace!
There is hope for an end to the war in Ukraine and a just peace! Let us pray together for each other and for peace in our hearts and heads! “Further, verily I say unto you, if two of you on earth shall unanimously ask for anything, they shall receive all things from my Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
In Lviv, the number of injured civilians following the recent rocket attacks there has grown to 19 people, with material losses also high: more than 120 houses were destroyed.
A retreat for Franciscan Youth in Verbovets has started this week. The 33 participants range in age from 14 to 27 years and come from Dnieper to Uzhgorod.
Night 540: The war over our skies and in our minds continues.
We had another typical war night: full of alarms and anxiety. The anxiety among civilians is its own form of terrorism, of psychological warfare. God, grant us a just peace.
In the history of the Chosen People, the Words were fulfilled: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is your God, the Lord alone …” Like the Israelites, Ukrainians today are called to listen to these Words, that they might be fulfilled in the midst of war and in our hearts. For the Word continues: “It was not accomplished with your sword or with your bow. I gave you a land about which you did not toil, and cities which you did not build, and in them you dwelt.” It might as well continue: Vinnitsa and olive trees, which you did not plant, and that give you food today.
God is love!
It was a calmer night, but our hearts remain restless as we remember Chernihiv and the Chernihiv region. The center of the city was hit by Russian rockets, killing seven people and wounding 129, including 15 children and 15 police officers. God, grant us a just peace.
The Word reminds us that God is love and that He loves every human being, regardless of their background or nationality. God loves everyone. “Their burnt offerings and sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
God loves all nations. God is love!
Our Brother, Leonid Majewski, has shared the following details of a journey by some Capuchins recently through part of the country:
God made it possible to go to the unoccupied zone.
We covered 820 kilometers in 18 hours. As usual, we visited our military friend in Kramatorsk, and we brought food and hygiene items. With funds from good people, we also bought tires for car wheels.
Then through Lyman — we’d gotten permission earlier — we reached the village of Rydkodub, a village on the border of the Donetsk and Kharkiv regions. There we met with border guards and handed out food and sleeping bags. We talked about many interesting things. In this village, we distributed aid and talked to people.
We also met a family that received help last year in Kamiansk, who remembered us positively. Mostly elderly people live there, but there were also families with children. Forty-three kits were distributed there.
The sight of unplanted fields due to the war is very sad and heartbreaking, but I was most surprised by the planted fields where people were already working. On the way back, we stopped briefly in Zariczne, at the home of two families who were waiting for us, knowing that we would be in the area. The last stop was Slavyansk, where now our Vinnitsa parishioner Oleg, who is a surgeon, is helping to treat the wounded.
It was a trip at its best. Everyone is happy to see how God led us through suffering and hardship, allowing us to live the day in service to our neighbor.
Thank you to all the good people who made this trip possible.
Edited by br. McLean Bennett
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph