It is incredible to watch the news coverage on television about the war in Ukraine. How can this be happening in the 21st century? Haven’t we learned anything? Nevertheless, transformational change can be affected by faith communities.
Prayer is key during times of helplessness – to invite God into the situation, to be in solidarity with those experiencing displacement, fear, terror and violence. God is all powerful and He wants us to ask for His intervention. Pope Francis announced Ash Wednesday (March 2) as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Ukraine. “I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war,” he said. Every day we need to pray intently for peace and God’s intervention. The concecration to the Immaculate heart of Mary March 25th was a moving and significant plea for her intercession and and act of faith for Catholics worldwide.
In a 1991 article ‘The Ultimate Answer to Violence’ Ron Rolheiser, OMI wrote this about how to respond to war:
‘demons’ are cast out not through a superior cultic power, but through a superior moral power, namely, by the power that is created inside someone when he or she sufficiently nurtures a deep private integrity, graciousness, love, innocence, and gentleness, and holds these in fidelity in the face of all temptation, including violence. Nurturing these things inside oneself connects a person to the ultimate source of all Being, the Ultimate Power, the power that Jesus called his “Father”. And this power, and this power alone, ultimately stands;
We also need to realize and reflect on the reality that peace depends upon justice rooted in history, economics, politics and morality – an ethic of life, respect, inclusion and simplicity. We can’t just live ‘business as usual’ and expect inequalities to be resolved. In order to transform the situation long-term we need to look at how the inequalities came to be, understand the root causes and make changes to address them. This may come at personal sacrifice – a word and way of living that contemporary culture does not promote. This is a good talk about the historical roots of this particularly conflict.
In addition to prayer and working toward addressing root causes through an approach of justice, charity is also needed in terms of providing immediate material aid. Donations are being accepted through various Ukrainian eparchies, Development and Peace, The Catholic Near East welfare association and the Canadian Red Cross.