Bárbara de Franceschi, Spain •
“The horror of war awakens both the best and the worst in human beings.” Since 11 days ago (alas, by now many more) the horror of the war in Ukraine has aroused a feeling of impotence in most of the world before a situation which was unthinkable in the XXI century. —
Russia may indeed have felt menaced when Ukraine was considering joining the NATO, yet nothing could justify a Russian invasion of a territory until then considered a friend, an invasion that immediately began with bombardments, destruction, the occupying of cities and strategic points. Hundreds of people sought refuge in the underground or in make-shift bunkers when the sirens announced airplane bombardment, while hundreds of thousands fled to more secure frontiers, on foot, in cars, trains or boats. Long lines of children, women, and the elderly, who were abandoning their daily lives, their homes, their husbands, fathers, brothers, and sisters forced to remain to defend their villages and country with a small army.
We are witnessing the greatest exodus since the Second World War. The principles of international rights are being violated when the bombardments are indiscriminate and hit civilians and the innocent without even respecting the humanitarian corridors. The threat of recourse to nuclear arms concerns not only diplomats, governments, the military, and strategists. Millions of common civilians are also very worried, who had never before thought possible such a situation, and fear the international repercussions of these dramatic circumstances.
War brings out the best in human beings
Yet, war also brings out the best in human beings. We are witnessing how the Ukrainian people are coming to the assistance of one another, how they share what little they have left, that will soon be gone: food and shelter. We are observing the solidarity and love that exist among them. We are also observing crowds of people arriving from nearby towns and villages, coming to the frontiers to welcome all those who have fled with only the clothes on their backs. We see the exchanging of embraces, of food, toys for the children, shelters hastily prepared to receive them. All of which speaks to us of the nobility of man, and loudly proclaims how no one wishes to once again experience the genocide of past wars. Doors and frontiers open wide for the people suffering the atrocious consequences of these wars. Perhaps we do not understand the hidden interests of the so-called great powers, however, we do understand that we can indeed do something, against the demonic power of destruction and death.
We can do something
We have available to us the most powerful weapons that exist to build peace and combat war. They are the weapons of prayer, of fasting and of almsgiving. There is a Spanish tune that goes like this: “A Dios rogando y con el mazo dando” (translated: “pray to the Lord and use the hammer”). Besides the hammer, that is, persuasion, we are many who wish to engage in prayer, starting from this very moment. In this way the “blow of the hammer” will be more efficacious, given that we rely on the strength of God’s help. If in every home in the world we all consciously pray for peace; if we make a common effort to pray in our families; if we fast in order to allow the Holy Spirit to take up more space in our lives; if we join forces in order to receive the Sacraments and listen to the Word of God; if we praise God with words and gestures of love, if we take care of nature with the respect due to this great gift of God … we will be able to stop the wars. Of this we have no doubt. Therefore: let us fill up our churches; let us gather in the streets and squares to pray, as the young people recently did in Madrid; let us interrupt our working days with brief moments of prayer with our colleagues; let’s take advantage of Sundays to pray with friends in a fraternal setting. So that all may recognize us by the way we love.
A proposal: every day a Rosary from a domestic shrine
We, an official community of the Federation in Spain, have a proposal to make: that the thousands of families in the five continents who have domestic shrines organize prayer shifts in each one of them – every day a Rosary from a domestic shrine. We suggest to every group, of young people, of mothers, men, professionals, couples, groups of pilgrims, institutes, federations, leagues, (each organized in its own little group or course), to recite a Rosary for peace every day at a domestic shrine. Let us begin today. A concrete example: today we shall pray at my domestic shrine, we who are at home, without worrying about the absence of a family member who cannot be here, and without becoming stressed out for other reasons. Afterwards we can send a photo over our community chat: “From our domestic shrines, let us pray for peace.” Tomorrow another of my brothers can pray in his domestic shrine, afterwards sending the photo once again over the community chat; the following day another, continuing so day after day. In order to do this, it is only necessary to have a chat group, the pledge of a given day to recite the Rosary, and a photo to send to the chat, to assure the daily reciting of the Rosary from a domestic shrine, as well as unity among all of us within our group or small community. Easy and simple. We do not have to move. The Mother is at work in every “Domestic Church”, in every heart that to Her is consecrated.
Unity is strength, and we have on our side the mightiest of allies, the Mother. The children of Mary will not die. It is She who brings us to Christ and Christ desires peace.
Ukraine deserves it, and so do the Russian citizens who do not want this war, and the entire world deserves it. Isn’t it so?
Original language, Spanish. Translation: Patricia Manson, Rome, Italy