Glory to Jesus Christ!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Today is Sunday 20 March 2022 and we are already experiencing the twenty-fifth day of this war of the aggressive Russian government against peaceful Ukraine.
Sunday for us Christians is a day that has at its centre the Mystery of the Eucharist, the Mystery of Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour. Sunday is the Lord’s Day, in which we try to set everything aside in order to be united with the Lord God. But Sunday in the context of war is experienced in a particular way. But during the war, in the midst of this sea of death, the Eucharist for us Christians is something extremely important. We say to ourselves and to the world today: “sine dominico non possumus” [We cannot live without Sunday]. Without Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour we cannot live, we cannot survive in the circumstances of war. It is precisely the Mystery of the Eucharist that gives us the strength of life to overcome death. We are discovering for ourselves once more this ancient truth that the Eucharist is the antidote against death.
But this Sunday many people in Ukraine will not have the opportunity to participate in the Divine Liturgy. For example, a curfew has been introduced in Zaporizhzhia today and no one is permitted to leave their homes to go to church.
Once more today in various cities and villages of Ukraine, Russian rockets and bombs fall from the skies upon the heads of the peaceful residents, believing Christians, who desire God.
Today we can confirm with sadness that this criminal war destroys the spiritual shrines of Ukraine. In these twenty-five days, almost 44 churches and religious buildings have been destroyed. It is strange that the majority of these churches belong today to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
But our clergy, our priests, carry to the Eucharistic Jesus where the people are waiting for Him. Our military chaplains today celebrate the Divine Liturgy for our army, they nourish them with the Body and Blood of our Saviour, with His victory they nourish those who are fighting for the victory of Ukraine today.
Today our priests carry the Body and Blood of our Saviour to the places where the cries and sighs of the wounded are heard, to our military hospitals, to our hospitals, they descend into the bomb shelters and the bunkers in order to celebrate this Holy Mystery.
We even experience the war as a Eucharistic community. And this is where our strength if found.
Today I would like to sincerely thank all those who today, when they gather in their countries, in their churches for the Divine Liturgy with the intention of praying for peace and calm in Ukraine, with the intention of the victory of Ukraine and the end of this war. Pray for the victory of peace over war.
Today I would like to thank all those who continue to support our Ukrainian people. I thank the Holy Father who personally visited the Ukrainian children that arrived for medical treatment to the Roman Hospital “Bambino Gesù,” the Child Jesus. I thank you, Holy Father, for having personally touched the wounds of the children. I would like to thank the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, which expressed its support for the Ukrainian nation which fights. All the bishops of the countries of Europe who are receiving refugees, who are praying for us, who speak to the consciences of their people and their government institutions, supporting Ukraine in its fight.
Today we pray for our people and our homeland. And we ask: O God, You said “where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them” [Matthew 18:20], be today with the Ukrainian people. You said that if two or three are gathered and ask in My name, it will be done so unto them. We ask You today: O God, bless Ukraine with peace! Stop the war, stop the aggressor, have mercy on Your 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!