Thursday, August 24, 2023

Ukraine and the “Power of Love”

August 24th marks the 32nd anniversary of Ukraine’s Declaration of Independence from the former Soviet Union. For the second year in a row, this national day will be observed by Ukrainians in the face of the ongoing full-scale invasion of their country (and occupation of parts of it) by Russian armed forces controlled by the Moscow dictatorship of former Soviet K.G.B. agent Vladimir Putin.

As Ukraine continues to fight in self-defense and for its right to national integrity according to its internationally recognized borders, these words from last year’s Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church continue to point to the what must remain the authentic spirit of Ukraine’s struggle:

“These days, we ask ourselves: what gives us the strength to fight and resist an enemy who outnumbers us ten times in military power? If we correct the very question — ‘who’ gives us power, then the answer becomes obvious. God gives us strength, because He is the Lord of strength. Why? Because we love! The power of Ukrainians is the power of love. Our soldiers are guided by the principle of not hating others, but love for their own children, loved ones, parents, friends, land, native streets, dawns, fogs... Love is manifested in tireless work of volunteers, in generous donations of millions, in sincere silent prayer. And in this love we have already won.

“This moral high ground should be preserved. We will finally win only when we continue to love, when we do not deviate one iota from the biblical formula for this victory:
‘We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. He who does not love is in death’ (1 John 3:14). Love creates heroes, and hate creates criminals. The cruelty of war is dehumanizing, so we, as a nation defending itself and the Church uniting the people into Christ's family, must make every effort to preserve our dignity and humanity, without in any case stooping to the inhumanity and atrocities of the aggressor. Let's protect the hearts of our soldiers from evil, so that they remain warriors of light and goodness! Let's take care of our hearts! Let's turn our anger and resentment into courage, indomitability, true wisdom and the victory of God's truth. St. Paul exhorts ‘Do not let evil overcome you, but overcome evil with good’” (Romans 12:21).