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15 May 2022


Today we celebrate the passion and death of Jesus in this war-torn land. With the crucified and the victims of all wars and injustices.

I am awakened by the sound of sirens that does not cease for a quarter of an hour, until 6.00. Sirens and bells sound, warning of danger. It looks like a new air offensive. I am not sure.

At 8 o’clock in the morning, we celebrated the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer, with very beautiful hymns. From this hour, in the church there is a group of about one hundred people, and the day begins before Jesus by welcoming the surprises the day holds.

I visited the monastery and the bunker under the Church, which the Mayor had asked them to have ready, for when it was necessary for people to come and take refuge. In the early days of the war they frequently came to sleep.

With Vitaly I visit the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Heart, also known as Honoratas, the sisters who hosted us on the first day past the border. We shared a long time, without haste, with the four sisters. It is a house for retreats and they welcome some children during the day. One of them, the youngest, interviewed me for a Catholic newspaper in Ukraine. He asked me about my impression of the situation in Ukraine and what I am experiencing. I told him about my desire to come here to celebrate Easter in order to be with my brothers and the people, making present the unity and affection of the entire Order of Carmel and the Church. Unity makes us strong in the face of every threat.

Today some of us do not eat as a gesture of communion with Jesus and with those who are wounded by hunger and injustice.

At about 4 o’clock, Rafał had assembled a group of altar boys and teenagers, called Oasis, with whom he usually meets every Sunday to share and also to engage in activities. They sing, play games, pray and encourage each other.

In the afternoon at 5pm, an emotional Way of the Cross. I was asked to carry the cross during the first three stations. It was an honor. By the third one, it was already weighing heavily upon me. But here, nothing is romanticism and everything has the weight of a reality that hurts. The liturgy is not theatre, it speaks of a real and bleeding Way of the Cross. Any small effort and gesture is a sign and a communion in the living Jesus for Life. I followed the stations, discovering behind me a small army of girls who, very recollected, were following the stations. One of them subtly distributes sweets to her companions. Two of them have their father on the war front.

At 6.00pm, the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord. The ceremony lasts two hours. No one sits during the Passion. The elderly and children stand steadfast, with a devotion without a hint of haste. It edifies and moves me.

The Sisters of St. Therese, who assist in all the work of the Shrine, work with the chaplains who are at the front. I gave them part of the shipment of rosaries that I brought, which the soldiers had requested.

After the celebrations, I farewelled the friars, who ask with interest how I had been here these two days. They wanted to know if I had been all right. I tell them not well, but very happy to be with them and proud that they are protecting the people and being Jesus in their midst. Also, I feel blessed by the Faith and warmth of this united Church.

The friars soon went to bed. On their faces you could see the tiredness and commitment.

A communion and silence with all those who celebrated the Passion of Jesus throughout the world.