Nights 573-578 – Br. Błażej letters
A Chronicle of Daily Struggles and Unyielding Hope in Ukraine, Sept. 20-26, 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 573: Remembering a war-time Capuchin hero.
A night of restlessness, with alarms and drone groups in the Ukrainian sky. Border regions and provinces, the capital, Dnipro and other surrounding regional cities are being attacked.
In the Donetsk region, as many as four S-300 missiles hit the city. Thank God there were no casualties, but a school, a boarding school and a private building were destroyed.
In Krasilow, meanwhile, our Capuchin sisters are supporting our nation’s defenders with prayer and more.
Today is the anniversary of the death of the Servant of God Fr. Seraphim Kashuba. Let us pray for the speedy beatification of the Venerable Servant of God, and let us pray through the cause of Fr. Seraphin, who died in Lviv on Sept. 20, 1977, for peace in Ukraine and for the conversion of our enemies and for our own conversion.
Friars in Cracow this year (in November, close to the Polish national holiday) will host a celebration of Seraphim Kashuba’s life. He was an icon of Polish fate in the 20th century. Born under Austrian annexation in 1910, at 8 years old saw Poland regain its independence. Just two years later, his hometown, Lviv, had to defend itself against the Bolsheviks. He was in Lviv again when World War II broke out, with Lviv defending itself against the Germans. The Soviets’ Red Army entered in under the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, and Kashuba experienced, along with other Poles, the tragedy of events in Volhynia.
“Your words, Lord, are spirit and life. You have the words of eternal life.” We live in war, we do not live by war.
Night 575: Solidarity with and support for Poland.
This night was quieter than previous war nights. Even so, the border perimeters were shelled, fighting on the front was intense, and people are being killed. God, give us a just peace.
Kiev was attacked yesterday. In Cherkasy, meanwhile, a rocket attack on a hotel left nine people injured; one survivor was extracted from the rubble.
Tomorrow, Sept. 23, we Capuchins of the Custody of Ukraine will experience the Solemnity of St. Pio, the patron saint of our Capuchin community in Ukraine. St. Pio, pray for us.
The Word today comes with some practical advice. “For the root of all evil is greed for money. It is by chasing after it that some have strayed far from the faith and have inflicted much suffering on themselves.
“You, on the other hand, O man of God, flee from such things, and follow righteousness, piety, faith, love, perseverance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, gain eternal life: to it you have been called, and of it you have made a good confession before many witnesses.”
We are praying for unity and peace between Poland and Ukraine. Simple people, not politicians on social media, are apologizing to Poles for decisions related to the grain. They do not identify with political decisions at this time. Let us pray for unity and peace. We are grateful to Poland for everything.
In Krotoszyn, Lukasz Kaczmarek, Poland’s national volleyball player, donated his European champion’s gold medal to his home parish. And in Krasilow, there were various forms of gratitude and solidarity shown with Poles and Poland.
Night 576: Thanksgiving for Padre Pio’s prayers in Ukraine.
A night calmer than previous nights, thank God. Odessa and the Dnipropetrovsk region, however, were shelled. God, give us a just peace!
Personally, I want to boast, like the prophet Jeremiah, that I have come to know God, in the works of Fr. Pio, in the history of our custody of Ukraine. Our Capuchin presence in Vinnitsa, our acquisition of land, a monastery and church in Kiev, and the rapid reconstruction of our church in Dnipro — all are just some of the miracles that we received from the good God through the intercession of Fr. Pio, the Capuchin. Deo gratias!
“Rather, wishing to boast, let him boast that he is prudent and that he recognizes Me, that I am the Lord, who shows graciousness, lawfulness and justice on earth — in this I am well pleased: the oracle of the Lord.”
In Cherkasy, deconstruction of the collapsed hotel went through the night. Yesterday, in Lviv, we saw the dedication and opening of the Blessed Bernardine Jablonska Ecumenical Mercy Center. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski consecrated the center.
Capuchins and others in Kiev, meanwhile, transported a batch of humanitarian aid: clothing for children and adults, shoes, bedding, food, chemicals, a pair of generators, two mattresses and medicines. The supplies went to Kherson. We thank our benefactors, because thanks to them we can be people of good will.
Night 578: A new Padre Pio center to help in the war.
We had a night of restlessness. Around midnight, alarms went off in individual regions and across all of Ukraine as missiles and combat drones launched from the Black Sea. The attacks led to fires in the Odessa region, and a marine train station, a train station hotel, grain warehouses, private buildings, and others were damaged. One woman was injured. God, grant us a just peace.
The Word tells us to “Take heed, therefore, how you listen. For he that hath, to him shall be given; and he that hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he thinketh he hath.”
In Vinnitsa, a concert of organ music within our Capuchin walls lifted our weary spirits.
In Kiev, on Sept. 23, a cooperation agreement was signed between the Capuchins’ Ukrainian custody and the Christian Relief Service. The agreement establishes a Center for Rehabilitation and Resocialization named after Padre Pio, which will become a place of spiritual care, psychological assistance, physical rehabilitation and social adaptation for veterans and their family caregivers, as well as for families of fallen, captured and missing soldiers and for anyone else suffering from the war.
The center will be a symbolic continuation of the tradition started by Padre Pio in 1956, when on his initiative he founded the House for the Relief of Suffering in San Giovanni Rotondo, in Italy.
Night 579: More destruction as war goes on.
Night attacks fell on the border and Dnipropetrovsk regions. In Odessa, rocket attacks almost completely destroyed a hotel on the shores of the Black Sea.
We are blessed and happy when we listen and keep the Word: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it faithfully.”
“His mother and brothers came to Jesus, but they could not get to Him because of the crowd.
They announced to Him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside and want to see You.’
But He answered them: ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and fulfill it.’”
In Krasilov, we witnessed a consecration of the statue of the Mother of God. And in Kiev, another session of art therapy was held at the Pio house.