Nights 491-499 – Br. Błażej letters

July 10, 2023
Capuchin Communications

A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, June 30-July 8, 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 491: More air raids and a car crash.

Another night of war norm: gunfire alarms, and kamikaze drone and missile raids on areas of eastern and southern Ukraine. In our area, thank God it is peaceful. We pray for a just peace for Ukraine.

The Word tells us that Jesus took on our weaknesses and bore our sicknesses: “When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed Him. And, behold, a leper came up and fell down before Him, saying: ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus stretched out His hand, touched him and said: ‘I will, be cleansed!’ And immediately he was cleansed of leprosy.”

This week, we remembered the jubilee of the 25th anniversary of Bishop Leon Dubrawski’s episcopal sacraments. In Vinnitsa, meanwhile, Br. Igor Gumeniuk’s sister shared with us the goods from her garden. Let us pray for our brothers and sisters, and for our benefactors.

In Lvov, our brothers Zbyszek Sawczuk and Andrzej Kinel were in a head-on collision with another car, which had apparently lost control and drove into the lane in which the brothers were traveling. The brothers are injured but alive and, after being given first aid, were taken to the hospital for additional tests before returning to the monastery. The other driver suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Night 492: Nothing is impossible for God.

We had a peaceful night, though there is unrest related to the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Russian terrorists are planning to blow it up. God, give us a just peace!

The Word recounts a meeting between God and Abraham: “And, having worshiped them to the ground, (Abraham) said: ‘O Lord, if Thou givest me kindness, deign not to bypass Thy servant …’

“The Lord said to (Abraham): ‘Why is it that Sarah laughs and thinks: Will I really be able to give birth when I have grown old?’ Is there anything that would be impossible for the Lord? This time next year I will return to you, and Sarah will have a son.”

Nothing is impossible for God. This is what Mary heard at the Annunciation.

In the Ukrainian mountains, our brothers Konstantin, Oleksandr and Pavel spent time with young people at a formation camp.

Night 493: War comes back by night.

Last night was full of full of rocket attacks and civilian casualties in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. Among the victims were children and young people. A night of alarms and drones. God, give us your just peace!

God’s prophetic word recalls that Jesus said to His apostles, “Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever loves a son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

“Whoever does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever wants to find his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

“He who receives you, receives Me, and he who receives Me, receives Him who sent Me. Whoever receives a prophet as a prophet, the reward of a prophet shall be given to him. Whoever accepts a righteous person as a righteous person, the reward of a righteous person will be given.

“Whoever gives a cup of fresh water to drink to one of the least of these, because he is a disciple, verily I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” God is love!

We led another day of summer formation for young people in the Carpathian mountains. And in Kiev, Fr. Pio’s House led a session of art therapy — painting with coffee.

Night 495: A war-torn Capuchin “birthday” celebration.

The night in our area was calm. Alarms and rockets were hear in Kiev, Dnipro, and Zaporizhzhia. In the end, three people were killed and 19 were wounded. God, give us a just peace!

Who is He …? The Word says: “When Jesus got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And, behold, a great storm broke on the lake, so that the waves flooded the boat; but He was asleep. Then they came to Him and woke Him up, saying: ‘Lord, save us, we are perishing!’ And He said to them: ‘Why are you fearful, men of little faith?’ Then, having arisen, He rebuked the whirlwinds and the lake, and there was a deep silence. And the people asked in amazement: ‘Who is He that even the winds and the lake obey Him?’” In true love, there is no fear — and God is love!

Yesterday, we Capuchins celebrated our “birthday.” The Order of Capuchin Friars Minor was approved by the Church with the bull Religionis zelus, issued by Pope Clement VII on July 3, 1528. In five years — in 2028, God willing — we will celebrate our 500th birthday.

The Order has produced 16 saints and 71 blesseds — seven of them Poles. Since its beginning, the Capuchins have given the Church 10 cardinals, two patriarchs, 69 archbishops and 278 bishops.

In Vinnitsa, our brother Patrick baptized little Milena, who, together with her mother, had to leave her family home in fear for her life and live in our neighborhood.

Construction of a statue of St. James at our monastery, meanwhile, continues underway and is being financed by the city government. The statue itself, which is already finished, was paid for by us Capuchins even before the war broke out.

Night 496: A silent night.

Night in our area was quiet, though there is increasing talk in our area about the possible blowing-up of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. At the same time, the Ukrainian army’s counterattack is slowly moving forward.

“The poor man cried out and the Lord heard him.” The Word reminds us that man’s misery is a departure from the source of love and peace, from God. “Behold, a poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and delivered him from all oppression.” The angel of the Lord surrounds the godly with a shelter to save them. The seekers of the Lord shall lack nothing!

Yesterday, terrorist rockets of the Russians damaged an apartment building in Pervomaisk, in the Kharkiv region. Thirty-one people were injured, including nine children.

Brother Maurizio, a former provincial from the province of Foggia and who was with us in Kiev, became our new General Councilor. He came to our shrine and gave us a relic of St. Padre Pio, the patron of our custody.

Night 497: More rockets … and a heartfelt thanksgiving.

Tonight was a very restless one, with heavy missile attacks all over. Lviv suffered the most. As of the early morning, the city had reported four people killed and 34 injured in rocket attacks. About 60 apartments and 50 cars were destroyed. Our brothers in Lviv, however, survived. God, give us a just peace!

Yesterday’s Word told us that “The poor man cried out and the Lord heard him.”

Today’s Psalm says that “The bonds of death have entwined me, the bonds of the abyss reached me, fear and anguish overwhelmed me. But I called upon the name of the Lord: ‘Lord, save my life!’”

Today, then, “the Lord heard me.” God is love!

Some of the friars this week visited Zariczne, a village close to the front line and that has been under shelling for nine months. People there are tired of the war. The brothers brought with them 40 packages of products.

One of the front-line military officers sent back this thank-you note:

“Good day. Emotions are overflowing us. The transmitter has been installed. What a beautiful thing. Everyone has connections up to a hundred meters. You would see their faces. They can talk to their loved ones. Now a big thank you from all users. You guys are the best.

“Thanks a lot for the other gifts, but the transmitter, it’s also a connection not only to work, but also to family. I hope you understand that. Sometimes it is very important for us. You and God do a lot for us. Thank you all.”

God is love!

Night 498: The Gospel in the midst of death.

Lviv is in mourning. Nine civilians were killed by yesterday’s Russian rocket attack, which also left 49 wounded. There were also civilian casualties in Dnipro. Tonight was full of alerts, while in the east the Ukrainian army leads a slow counterattack.

The Word, though, brings us good news: “Jesus, coming out of Capernaum, saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs house and said to him: ‘Follow Me!’ And he got up and followed Him. While Jesus was sitting in the house behind the table, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and His disciples. Seeing this, the Pharisees said to His disciples: ‘Why does your Teacher eat together with tax collectors and sinners?’ He, hearing this, said: ‘It is not the healthy who need a physician, but those who are unwell. Go and try to understand what is meant by “I want mercy rather than sacrifice.” For I did not come to appoint the righteous, but sinners.’”

God is love — especially for sinners in need of conversion. God is love!

The brothers now are part of a pilgrimage to Bilshivtsev. About 110 people are on the trip from Lviv to the shrine of Mary Queen of Peace and Reconciliation.

From Br. Błażej letters nights 491-499
Edited by br. McLean Bennett
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph