Nights 500-508 – Br. Błażej letters
Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, July 9-17, 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 500: A jubilee marked in tragedy … and a cat, lost and found.
Tonight marks a sad jubilee: The war has already lasted 500 nights and days. God, give us a just peace! The Donetsk and Zaporizhzhya regions were shelled, and there are civilian casualties.
The Word tells us: “He will remove the chariots from Ephraim, and the horses from Jerusalem; the arc of war will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the peoples. His dominion shall reach from sea to sea, from the banks of the river to the ends of the earth.”
It continues: “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 Vinnitsa, our Capuchin monastery has cellars that are visited by tourists led by professional guides. For a couple of days, the tour was hampered by … a cat, which could not be seen but could be heard.
Emergency services in the persons of Katya and Larysa acted quickly, and the cat was quickly found, fished out and brought into the embrace of its owner.
Night 501: Reconciling old wounds in the midst of a new war.
Yesterday, our thoughts were in places like Lutsk and Volyn — more so, anyway, than at the war’s front line. Paying tribute to the victims of the World War II-era Volhynia massacre, and to attempts at reconciliation between Ukraine and Poland, were more important than the war. (In the South and East, though, there were still alerts and rocket raids.) God grant us reconciliation and a just peace!
The Word reminds us: “Lord, my daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her and she will live.” … “That I may at least touch His mantle, and I shall be healed.” … “Your faith has healed you!” … “The girl is not dead; she is just sleeping.” We remember that we live in war, we do not live by war.
Notes from the country this week: In Lutsk, bishops and presidents of Poland and Ukraine gathered to pay tribute to the victims of Volhynia. In Kyiv, the Father Pio House gathered children and people for art therapy.
Night 502: A still-relevant message from God.
Today’s Word presents us with a question: Is the Word relevant today, or did it only apply to the young, fledgling church?
“One spirit and one heart animated all who believed. None called his own what he owned, but they had everything in common. The apostles testified with great power to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace rested on all of them. None of them suffered privation, for the owners of the fields or houses sold them and brought the money obtained from the sale and laid it at the apostles’ feet. To each also was distributed according to need.”
God is love — and the Word is indeed relevant today.
Meanwhile, an aerial bomb was dropped on a building where humanitarian aid was being distributed, killing seven people.
Elsewhere, about two dozen children, ages 8 to 12, from the Kiev parish took part in a religious program in Oleksandrivka; through fun, games and prayer, the children sought the presence of Jesus in their lives. In Kiev, a boy from the Franciscan Youth community and who’d begun coming to meetings and to the church in September, received Holy Communion for the first time.
In Lviv, however, we’re forced to seek prayers for another little boy. Twelve-year-old Sviatoslav was fished out of a lake and is in a coma. His dad was killed in the war about six months ago. Please pray for him and his family.
Night 503: New Capuchin Cardinals and a Ukainian champion.
For the first time in a long time, the whole of Ukraine yesterday was “red,” and at one point a rocket alert spread across the country. Night was similar to the day: alarms and rockets. Is it all a response to the NATO meeting in Vilnius?
Our brother, Konstantin Morozov, celebrates his 50th birthday today. We thank God for him and for his story of life and vocation.
The Word today brings us the story of Joseph in Egypt, confirming the thought that has been with us since the beginning of the war: that is, that only God can and does bring good out of every war, out of every crisis. Deo gratias!!!
Some good news from around the world: In Rome, Pope Francis has presented a list of 20 new cardinals. In addition to Archbishop Gregory Rysio of Lodz, Poland, among the new cardinals is our Capuchin brother Luis Dri, from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is an extraordinary confessor who models himself on Fathers Leopold Mandic and Pio of Pietrelcina — and who tells penitents: “God embraces you, God loves you, God walks with you. God came to forgive, not to chastise.”
And in London, we admit it’s a bit of a pity that the Pole, Iga Swiatek lost — but only a bit of a pity, because the Ukrainian, Elina Svitolina, won.
Night 505: War keeps churning.
Today marks the anniversary of the Russian rocket attack on Vinnitsa, which killed 29 people, including two children. The nighttime drone attacks and rocket raids do not stop. People and their homes and apartments are suffering. God, grant us a just peace.
The Word brings us help in time of war:
“Have confidence in the Lord and do what is good, and you will dwell on earth and live securely. Rejoice in the Lord, and He will fulfill the desires of your heart.
“The Lord knows the days of those who act with integrity, and their inheritance will last forever. In the time of calamity they will not experience shame, in the days of famine they will be satiated.
“Depart from evil and do good, so that you may endure forever. For the Lord loves justice and does not abandon His saints.
“The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord, He their refuge in time of affliction. The Lord assists and delivers them, He delivers from the wicked and preserves them, for He is their refuge.”
God is love!!!
In Vinnitsa, Brother Joseph Chromy dedicated the new medical center, “MED OK.”
Night 506: Bringing about good in the face of tragedy.
Yesterday, 21 towns and villages in the Zaporizhzhya region were shelled by Russian rockets. One person, a 41-year-old man, was killed and four people were wounded. Many houses and apartments were destroyed.
Today’s Word reminds us that out of war, God is able to bring about good.
“When the brothers themselves had already gone to Joseph, and having fallen down before him, they said, ‘We are your slaves.’ But Joseph said to them: ‘Do not be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You once plotted evil against me, but God intended it as good, to cause what is today, that a great nation has survived. Now, therefore, do not fear; I will feed you and your children.’ And so he comforted them, speaking to them warmly.”
God is love!
Night 508: Shelling in Kharkiv.
The border regions of Ukraine are shelled and harassed by rockets and drones. There is massive fighting along the front line of about 1,200 kilometers. In the previous night and day, Kharkiv was shelled, and innocent people are suffering. Let us pray for an end to the war and a just peace.
Today’s Word reminds us that one does not always remember history or one’s own predecessors, and that the proverbial point of view can change completely over time. Change can lead to hostility, and even war.
“A new king came to rule in Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people: ‘Behold, the people of Israel are more numerous and more powerful than we are. Let us prudently act against them, so that they may cease to multiply. For in the event of war, it could join with our enemies and fight against us to get out of the land.’”
This is the thinking of man. God is love!!!
In Kiev, the Father Pio House and Christian Relief Service continue their therapeutic ministry by offering therapeutic classes for children. In Vinnitsa, meanwhile, another session of the “School of Mary” began this week.
From Br. Błażej letters nights 500-508
Edited by br. McLean Bennett
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph