Nights 472-479 – Br. Błażej letters
Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War
A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, June 11-18, 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 472: Corpus Christi.
Another night of war means another night of alarms, drone harassment and kamikazes. Ukraine’s anti-missile systems are working, though the tragedy facing people after the Novaya Kakhovka dam’s destruction continues. Russian terrorists in the occupied territories are not helping the affected people. The help of the civilized world instead is being delivered to the flooded areas. God, grant a just peace.
The Word that God gives us through Mother Church sounds different in war than in peacetime. You shall live forever, you shall not die … You shall live! “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. The bread that I will give is My Body, given for the life of the world. As the living Father sent Me, and I live through the Father, so he who eats Me shall live through Me. This is the bread that came down from heaven — it is not like the bread that your ancestors ate and died. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” You will live … God is love!
Three people were killed and 26 were wounded after yesterday’s attack by Russian terrorists in Odessa and the Oblast.
Night 473: First communion and a vote on calendars … all amidst war.
We had a quieter night, though alarms continued in the east and in Dnipro.
The word that God gives us for the next day of war is poetry. “Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, the One who comforts us in our every trouble, that we ourselves may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with that consolation which we experience from God. For as the afflictions of Christ abound in us, so we also experience great consolation through Christ. But when we endure afflictions, it is for your consolation and salvation; and when we are comforted, it is for your consolation, causing you to endure with endurance the same sufferings that we also experience. And our hope concerning you is strong, for we know that as you share the sufferings, so do we share the consolation.”
God is love!
Friars this week at the Fr. Pio’s house in Kiev led children in making pizza and in other therapeutic activities. In Kamienske, meanwhile, children had first communion and participated in a Corpus Christi procession.
And in Uzhgorod this week, a solemn communion was held as ballots were distributed asking for the transition to the Gregorian calendar. Voting will take place through the week.
Night 474: The counteroffensive takes off … and we celebrate a birthday.
There has been official word from President Zelenski that he has launched a counterattack to restore Ukraine’s pre-2014 borders. Let us pray that as few people and soldiers as possible are killed. The night, however, was very difficult and dangerous. Alarms sounded throughout Ukraine and rockets hit residential houses in the Dnipropetrovsk region, leaving people dead and wounded. Kiev was also attacked, in particular the city’s Left Bank, where the brothers live. God, give us a just peace !
The Word reminds us about living truly in love. “The point is that we should no longer be children who are tossed about by the waves and moved by every whiff of doctrine, as a result of deception on the part of men and cunningness in leading astray by falsehood. Instead, living truly in love, let us make all things grow toward Him who is the Head, toward Christ.”
Yesterday, 95 more of our military men returned from Russian captivity; since February 24, 2022, we’ve seen return 2,526 Ukrainian men and women.
In Vinnitsa, a mother came to our church with her daughter, Polina, to give thanks for six years of Polina’s life, who just yesterday had celebrated her birthday. Of course, the girl prayed spontaneously asking Jesus in the Greatest Sacrament to end the war. In the same city, meanwhile, Brother Igor, along with the Franciscan Youth, made a small patch of green amid the concrete — and so there is life.
Night 475: More difficulties rain on us at night.
It was a very difficult night. The number of deaths among civilians is increasing – including seven people, employees of state forests in Sum Oblast, along with people in Odesa. The people die from rocket attacks.
The Word reminds us, at all times and for everything, to bless God. “If, thanks to Christ, we put such confidence in God, it is not because we think that we are able to think something of ourselves, but we know that this ability of ours is of God. He also made it possible for us to become servants of the New Covenant, a covenant not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit brings life.”
“Teach me, O God, to walk in Your paths, Guide me in truth according to Your instructions.”
God is love!
The Capuchins this week in Kiev provided shelter for people passing through the country, who reported witnessing destroyed homes on their way through places like Borodianka and Bucha. We pray: May God heal every pain and grief, and may God’s love be poured into the hearts of the Ukrainian people so that they are able to forgive their oppressors.
Crooked Horn, in the Dnipropetrovsk region and the hometown of President Zielenski, was the site of the latest Russian missile attack. Eleven people were killed, among them died a young couple, David and Ksenia. Today is a day of mourning in the city.
In Vinnitsa, city authorities are continuing the construction for the monument to St. James.
And in Kiev, Brother Konstantin Morozov, our secretary of the Custody, recalled the historic event of June 13, 1995 — the announcement of the creation of the Custody of Ukraine under the name of St. Anthony. The act was performed by then-Minister General Brother John Corriveau. St. Anthony, pray for us.
Bad news has arrived in Kherson, however. The first cholera and other bacteria are appearing in the water, meaning epidemic may be close at hand.
Night 476: Finding freedom in Christ in the midst of chaos.
The Word today reminds us: “And the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” As often happens in Christianity, faith is understood as orders, prohibitions, laws; in a word, enslavement. But the Word of God says something completely different. Once again: “But the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” A Christian, a believer, lives in true freedom. God is love!
Today, however, is a day of mourning in Krzywy Rog. On June 13, as a result of Russian missile attacks, 12 people were killed — among them several minors. In Odessa, meanwhile, scenes of destruction follow a dangerous night. Kharkiv and the region around it also bear the consequences of Russian rocket fire.
Night 477: Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Yesterday was full of alarms and anxiety. In Vinnitsa alone, there were three series of alarms. Russian terror has become active — a reaction to the counterattack by the Ukrainian army. The night, however, was quieter compared to previous nights. There were air strikes and rockets, but fewer of them. God, give us a just peace.
The Word of today is abundant for people who have a simple and open heart. In Jesus, in the Church, we are the new chosen people. The Word is to us and for us:
“You are a nation dedicated to the Lord your God. You have been chosen by the Lord your God to be, among all the nations that are on the face of the earth, a people who are His special possession. The Lord chose you and found pleasure in you, not because you outnumber all nations, for of all nations you are the smallest, but because the Lord loved you and wants to keep the oath given to your ancestors. He brought you out with a strong hand and delivered you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.
“Recognize, then, that the Lord your God is God, a faithful God, keeping covenant and love to a thousand generations toward those who love Him and uphold His laws, but who repays each of those who hate Him by destroying them. He does not leave the one who hates Him unpunished, repaying him alone. Guard, therefore, the commands, laws and precepts which I command you to obey today.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this is manifested the love of God toward us, that He sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might have life through Him. In this love is manifested that we did not love God, but that He Himself loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
“Beloved, if God so loved us, then we should also love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God abides in us and love toward Him is perfected in us. We recognize that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given to us from His Spirit. We have also seen and testify that the Father sent the Son as the Savior of the world. If someone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, then God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love: whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
“Come to Me, all you who are afflicted and burdened, and I will comfort you. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is sweet, and my burden is light.”
In the Spirit of this Word, the yoke of war and our daily crosses, our suffering, is to be lifted, to be borne, to becomes a glorious cross. God is love!
Night 479: More bombs, rockets and drones.
The day began with new alarms. Night was especially difficult around the Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia regions, where alarms sounded incoming drone and rocket attacks.
The Word today brings us a request from God Himself: “Now, if you diligently listen to My voice and guard My covenant, you will be My special possession among all nations, for to Me belongs all the earth. But you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy people.” We, the Lord’s people and His sheep, are offered courage: “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” God is love!
In Vinnitsa, with God’s help and in accordance with the request of the parents, Yulia and Andriy, we accepted their fourth child into the Catholic Church. For this, we thank God.
From Br. Błażej letters nights 472-479
Edited by br. McLean Bennett
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph