Nights 543,544,551 – Br. Błażej letters
Spiritual Sustenance Amidst Ukraine’s Battlefronts
August 21, 2023: The Urgency of Independence Day
As the sun sets on yet another war-torn day, an invitation from Ukraine’s Christian Relief Service, known as ХСП, reverberates through communities. The call is for a national day of fasting and prayer on August 24—Ukraine’s Independence Day. In the midst of uncertainty, a mantra unfolds among the Ukrainian populace: “We live in war, but we do not live by war.”
In Vinnitsa, hospitality is not just a word but an action. The Brothers of the Custody of Ukraine welcome “angels”—volunteers coming from the frontline areas. Br. Maciek Podolec plays gracious host to these modern-day heroes who arrived from the east to offer their support to communities under duress. The atmosphere is a mixture of fatigue and resolve.
Chernihiv, on the other hand, bears the fresh scars of recent missile attacks. The city mourns its losses, a collective sorrow symbolized through photographs that capture the city’s plight. Meanwhile, Kupyansk in the Kharkiv Region suffers new assaults that send 11 individuals to the hospital, illustrating the indiscriminate nature of the ongoing conflict.
August 22, 2023: Echoes of Conflict and Community
Amidst the darkness of war, Zaporizhia and Chernihiv face rocket attacks that further strain already fragile communities. Alarms ring out in the nation’s capital, Kiev, marking yet another chapter in Ukraine’s struggle. Yet despite these trying times, hope endures. The main street of Kiev prepares to host a “stationary parade,” featuring the destroyed equipment of Russian forces—a testament to Ukrainian resilience and an act of defiance against the enemy.
In Vinnitsa, the church becomes a sanctuary in more ways than one. Residents are invited to partake in the Rosary prayer and the Eucharist, timed to coincide with Ukraine’s Independence Day. Dnipro offers a contrasting form of spiritual and cultural nourishment—an invitation to a concert featuring Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”
At the spiritual retreat in Verbovets, 33 young people express their commitment to a life of conversion within the Franciscan Youth community. These include youth from cities as varied as Dnipro, Kyiv, Shargorod, and others, marking the expansion of these spiritual communities across the nation.
August 29, 2023: Remembering the Sacrifices
Another week begins in Ukraine, laden with the threat of rocket attacks, especially in the border regions. Yet even in this atmosphere of perpetual danger, the people find solace in their faith. Psalm 139 becomes a touchstone for comfort, reminding everyone that they are not alone—even in their darkest moments. “God is love,” the saying goes, and this belief fuels the nation’s resolve.
At the House of Fr. Pio in Kyiv, therapy sessions offer a lifeline to women grappling with unspeakable loss. These are mothers, wives, and sisters of soldiers who have sacrificed their lives at the front. This initiative underscores the emotional battleground that parallels the physical one.
Days of remembrance loom large. August 29 is set aside to honor the fallen defenders of Ukraine, followed by August 30, which is dedicated to those missing at the front. The Brothers of the Custody of Ukraine, led by Br. Blazej Suska, issue a call to prayer, urging everyone to remember these heroes and their sacrifices.
Despite the relentless cycle of violence and loss, the nation’s enduring message is simple yet profound: “God is love.”
Edited by br. Igor De Bliquy
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph