Nights 550-556 – Br. Błażej letters

September 5, 2023
Capuchin Communications

A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, August 28-Sept. 3, 2023

Stories of Resilience and Faith: Ukrainians Endure the War

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 550: Hot days and hot alarms.

There have been alarms in Vinnitsa, Kiev and eastern Ukraine, despite things having been calmer than in previous nights. Temperatures reaching 34 and 35 degrees Celsius (93 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit) on consecutive days are also leaving their mark.

The Word reminds us of that on the way to knowing the true God (that is, true love ), it is important to listen and see. Hence the words from today’s liturgy:

“My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow Me.” God is love!

In Kiev, reconstruction has begun on a hotel that was damaged by a Russian rocket. In Krasilow, Capuchin nuns are happy to return home after vacations. And in Kamiansky, meanwhile, a meeting was held this week for children and youth. There were nearly 50 participants from Pavlograd, Dnipra, Crooked Horn and Kamianskom.

Night 551: The alarms and attacks continue.

Alarms are continuing, and there is danger of rocket attacks — primarily in the border regions. God, grant us a just peace!

God is close to us, as Psalm 139 says:

O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.

Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know the whole of it.
Behind me and before, you hem me in
and rest your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
too lofty for me to attain.

In Kyiv, the House of Fr. Pio provides therapy, especially for mothers and wives who have lost their loved ones at the front.

Night 552: Ukraine goes red.

The nights are restless with the sound of alarms and air raids. At 5 o’clock in the morning, the whole of Ukraine went “red,” with alarms even in Uzhgorod. Explosions could be heard in Kiev. Our anti-missile system is working, however. God, give us a just peace!

St. Paul says: “After all, you know that each of you — like a father to his children — we have asked, encouraged you to act in a manner worthy of God, who calls you to his kingdom and glory. That is why we constantly thank God, because when you took over the word of God, heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as what it really is — as the word of God, who works in you, the believers.”

Whoever keeps the teachings of Christ, in this truly God’s love is perfected. God is love!

In Crooked Horn and Poltava Oblast, Russian missiles have reached civilian homes, farms and more.

In Kiev, residents are asking the ministers of culture of European Union countries to help them recover St. Nicholas Church. Elsewhere around the region of Kiev, a rocket or its shrapnel has hit residential houses and fell on a local cemetery. Fortunately, there were no casualties, though houses were destroyed.

Night 554: Seeking God’s will in the midst of war.

Another night of restlessness: alarms in Kiev; explosions heard in Vinnitsa — which we hope were our anti-missile systems. Likewise in Khmelnitsky, Zhytomyr. In the west, no change. God, grant us a just peace!

We often ask, “What is God’s will?” The Word gives us the answer: “For the will of God is your sanctification: to abstain from debauchery, so that each one may know how to keep his own body holy and in honor, and not in lustful passion, as the pagans who do not know God do. Let no one in this matter transgress and deceive his brother, for as we told you before, assuring you solemnly: the Lord is the avenger of all this. For God has not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness. So whoever rejects these words rejects not man, but God, who after all gives you His Holy Spirit.”

Today — Sept. 1, 2023 — marked a historic occasion: Eastern churches in Ukraine switched to the Gregorian calendar. Our church in Uzhgorod is transitioning fully, with fixed holidays like Christmas and movable ones like Pascha. Deo gratias!

In Kamianske, Zytomyr and Zaryczany, representatives of several active humanitarian programs took part in a three-day meeting with themes of mercy and hope in action. The eucharist was led by different bishops each day.

Night 556: The living sacrifices we offer up in war.

Another night of restlessness, with nighttime kamikaze drone attacks on our cities and villages. God, give us a just peace!

If you want to be a true Christian, hear this Word: “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.’”

To deny oneself means to negate one’s thinking, one’s emotions, one’s old nature and to open oneself to the new Word, the new nature and the new mentality. Hence the request: “I beseech you, brothers, by the mercy of God, to give your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, as an expression of your reasonable service to God. Therefore, do not take the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may be able to discern what is the will of God: what is good, what is pleasing to God, and what is perfect.”

In Kramatorsk, Russian rockets hit the city, though people were thankfully not hurt. The same happened in other cities of the Donetsk region.

In Kyiv, meanwhile, the Capuchins held a charity concert in the church square. Among the performing artists was our Br. Sergey Kippa.

Edited by br. McLean Bennett
for the Capuchin Communication Office
Province of St. Joseph