Glory to Jesus Christ!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Today is Sunday 13 March 2022 and Ukraine is experiencing already the eighteenth day of this horrific war.
Thanks to the amazing bravery of our army, Ukrainians were able to stop the enemy almost in every direction. We feel a certain kind of temporary calm in Ukraine, particularly on this Sunday. However, the most terrifying moments are during the night in Ukraine, because during the night the enemy shoots at peaceful cities, inflicts irreparable damage to infrastructure, and even kills the peaceful population.
During this night we saw horrible images. There was a bombing of the Sviatohirsk Lavra, an important monastery of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in the Donetsk region. There were many people there, including refugees. Churches are smashed and destroyed. Our cities all over Ukraine burn during the night.
The Ukrainian government informs us that the enemy is using various weapons that are banned by international conventions. Last night over Popasna in the Donetsk region white phosphorus munitions were used, which inflict heavy wounds on the peaceful population. The night in Ukraine was full of anxiety and difficulty. But then there was morning, Sunday morning.
This Sunday morning we stand before the face of God and pray. We pray for Ukraine, we pray for the Ukrainian military, we pray for all those who have suffered because of this war, we pray for our enemies who came to our land and sow devastation, sow death, sow fear, sow great mutilation.
We know that now, during the time of Great Lent, our people have a great need for the Mystery of Confession. Great Lent is a time of repentance, a time when we Christians rush to this holy mystery of God’s mercy to acknowledge our sins, to receive from our loving Lord the forgiveness of our sins and transgressions. All our priests are ready to serve their people. They serve where they are, on the occupied territories, in besieged cities. In all our cities and villages, churches are open almost around the clock in order to serve our people.
People who do not have access to their priest are also approaching us. We know that the Mystery of Confession can be experienced only when the priest is personally present and when there is a personal encounter with the one who, in the name of the Lord our God, has the authority to grant us forgiveness of our sins.
But in circumstance when there is no access to the minister of the Mystery of Repentance, I recall that there is the opportunity to benefit from the forgiveness of sins through a perfect act of contrition. When we repent before the Lord God and regret our sins, not because we fear some kind of punishment but because we feel that we have offended God’s love, we have perfect repentance for our sins when we feel pain for our sins in light of love, the love of God for the human person.
In these extraordinary circumstances, I would like to thank all those who are in solidarity with Ukraine. I would like to thank the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Bishops of Scandinavia who clearly and sharply condemned the aggressor and the aggression against Ukraine and support our Ukrainian people.
I would like to thank the Eastern Patriarchs, the Melkite Patriarch from Syria and the Chaldean Patriarch from Iraq, who expressed their support for our Church and our nation.
We pray for our Ukraine! We fight for our freedom! And we ask: O Lord, receive our prayer! Grant Ukraine peace! Grant Ukraine victory! Grant Ukraine peaceful skies and life to her people!
May the blessing of the Lord be upon you through His grace and love for humankind, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Glory to Jesus Christ!