Nights 458-464 – Br. Błażej letters
Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War
A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, May 28-June 3, 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 458: Pentecost.
We survived another night full of alarms and, above all, kamikaze drones that flew into Ukraine from various directions. There were airstrikes from 1 to 6 a.m., with alarms over almost all of Ukraine. Kiev was the most attacked. Of the 54 kamikaze drones launched by the Russian terrorists, 52 were shot down. Unfortunately, there were casualties.
In Vinnitsa, we were visited by more “angels” — volunteers from Poland who have gone to the east of Ukraine. The guests were received by our brothers Joseph and Paul.
In Lviv and Krasilow, the spring chapter of the Franciscan Youth has begun at the Padre Pio retreat house in Krasilow. About 55 people from Kyiv, Vinnitsa and other cities have gathered there. May the Holy Spirit lead us in His paths!
Night 459: Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.
The night was similar to the previous: punctuated by alarms and kamikaze drones. Russia launched 40 drones — plus a few dozen more missiles — with trajectories toward Kiev. All of them were destroyed, and for that we thank God and our soldiers.
Mary, guard us, and protect Ukraine and the Church in Ukraine. Happy Virgin, who gave birth to the Lord, Blessed Mother of the Church, you guard in us the Spirit of your Son, Jesus Christ.
Brother Marcin Swiąder, a Capuchin from the community of Brother Justin Rusin, created another icon today, and in Kiev we held a night vigil and prayer service. In Uzhgorod, a long-awaited trip to the mountains took place in late May: Youth from our Uzhgorod parish took part, including three children from a foster family, as well as two boys currently with us. And in
Krasilow, meanwhile, we celebrated today a long-awaited and postponed first Holy Communion for our children.
For this week’s solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, we celebrated a parish indulgence in Kiev, with a Eucharist presided over by Bishop Oleksander Yazlovetsky.
Night 460: A return to not-so-ordinary time.
More drones, which come by day as well as by night. Most targeted is Kiev, the capital. Four people were injured after Russia launched 31 drones on Ukraine; all but two were destroyed before they struck their targets.
The Word today reminds us of a bit of evangelical “business” on St. Peter’s part. Peter said to Jesus: “Behold, we have forsaken all and followed you.” Jesus replied: “Verily I say unto you, no man forsaketh house, or brethren, or sisters, or mother, or father, or children, or fields, because of Me, and because of the Gospel, lest he receive a hundredfold now, at this time, houses, or brethren, or sisters, or mothers, or children, or fields, in the midst of persecution, and eternal life in the time to come. But many of the first will be the last, and the last the first.”
For the Capuchins in Kiev, the statement that “we live in war” is fulfilled. Drones come by night and by morning. Still, we do not live by war: On the patronal feast of the church, ours is a church full of people, a common agape, dancing, and joy.
Night 461: Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Tonight was quieter than previous ones — though there was an attack on a transport base in the Dnipropetrovsk region. God, give us a just peace!
Mary visits Elizabeth, and the women exchange the Word of God. And today, we, through Mother Church, are haunted by the Word:
“Sing out, Daughter of Zion! Lift up a joyful shout, Israel! Rejoice and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has removed the judgments upon you, He has removed your enemy; The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst, you shall no longer fear evil.
On that day they will say to Jerusalem, ‘Fear not, Zion! Let not your hands grow weak!’ The Lord your God is in your midst, the Mighty One who saves, He will exult over you with joy, He will renew you with His love, He will raise a shout of joy.”
“Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not malign. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Be unanimous among yourselves. Do not chase after greatness, but be attracted to what is humble.”
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior … for great things has the Almighty done unto me, and His name is holy.”
With this Word, God haunts us today, so that even in the war and in this war in the head, we keep calm and maintain joy.
In Kiev, an apartment building was damaged and 30 people were evacuated. Four were injured and another was killed.
Night 462: On Children’s Day, tragedy upon tragedy.
Tonight was an especially difficult one in Kiev, where rockets and debris fell on a part of the city where the brothers live. All ten “Iskander” rockets launched toward the city were shot down, but three people — including one child, an 11-year-old girl — died, and 10 people (including a child) were injured. All this on what we recognize as Children’s Day. Let us pray that all children live in love and peace. God, give us peace.
Our president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has reported that Russia has killed at least 483 children. A thousand more children have been wounded by terrorist acts. God help our children.
The Word reminds us that “For us, Christ became obedient to the point of death, and that death of the cross. Therefore, God has exalted Him above all things and given Him a name above every name.”
Night 463: A reminder of the power of prayer.
Another night of war. Alarms. Explosions. Anti-missile systems are at work in Kiev, where people are staying overnight in a city metro station. At around 3 a.m., all of Ukraine was “red” as Russian terrorists launched 15 rockets and 18 kamikaze drones. There are damaged buildings, but for now no information about human casualties. Two people were wounded.
“Jesus answered them, ‘Have faith in God! Verily I say unto you, He that saith unto this mountain: “Lift thyself up, and cast thyself into the sea,” and shall not doubt in his soul, but shall believe that what he saith shall be fulfilled, it shall be done unto him. Therefore, I say unto you, all that ye ask in prayer shall be done unto you, only believe that ye shall receive. And when you stand up to pray, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven may also forgive you your transgressions.’”
While the mindless destruction in our country continues, we do not stop praying, because we know that prayer is the most powerful weapon. Two hands folded in prayer are stronger than two clenched fists.
Night 464: God remains our wealth in war.
Ukraine’s eastern provinces have no peace. Alarms sound day and night, and in some of the smaller towns and villages innocent people are killed every day. God, give us peace!
The Word is our wealth, wisdom, truth and source of peace — even in war. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you in all its richness; give thanks to God the Father through Christ.”
Earlier this week, men’s communities of consecrated life in Poland prayed and fasted for peace in the world, especially in Ukraine. We are grateful for their prayers.
This week in Uzhgorod, meanwhile, we distributed to the needy — many of them resettled displaced persons — 50 kitchen sets including wet wipes, dishwashing sponges, garbage bags, parchment paper, food wrap and napkins.
From Br. Błażej letters nights 458-464
Edited by br. McLean Bennett
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph