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Ash Wednesday Request From Pope Francis: Fast and Pray for end of conflict in Ukraine

Today is Ash Wednesday.  Each year, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. Lent is a 40-day season (not counting Sundays) marked by repentance, fasting, reflection, and ultimately celebration. The 40-day period represents Christ’s time of temptation in the wilderness, where he fasted and where Satan tempted him.

Ash Wednesday

Lent asks believers to set aside a time each year for similar fasting, marking an intentional season of focus on Christ’s life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection. Last Friday,  Pope Francis made an unprecedented visit to the Russian embassy with a message for Putin to end this war. He subsequently asked all Catholics to fast and pray for its end, particularly today on Ash Wednesday.  ABC News reported that  ” The Vatican press office confirmed that Pope Francis made a visit to the Russian Embassy to the Holy See to express his concern about the fighting in Ukraine on Friday morning….The visit came as a surprise as it did not follow typical protocol.

Catholic Priest refuses to leave Ukraine

Pope Francis, like the rest of us has been witnessing the deaths and suffering of innocent people, including an Orthodox priest.  We are stunned as we saw bombs falling and apartment buildings leveled. We are watching the tragedy of the aggression toward the Ukrainian people. 

We have also been witnessing the courage of the everyday heroes of the Ukraine, like the the Catholic Priest who runs the Ukrainian Catholic EWTN network, 

the elderly man who offered to give a broken down Russian tank a lift back to Russia, the young married couple who wed early so they could fight together and if necessary die together before God. We have watched President Zelensky refuse an offer from Joe Biden to have him and his family evacuated , saying ‘I need ammunition, not a ride.’ 

Couple marries so they can fight together and if necessary die together before Goddd

There is the elderly driver crushed by Russian tank in Ukraine is miraculously rescued alive – something the Anti Semitic, Anti Catholic New York Times may claim is scientifically impossible

The Ukrainian people have stood valiantly with faith and courage facing a relentless aggressor, due in great measure to the Catholic and Orthodox roots of the Ukraine – to the symbol of St. Michael their protector. Saint Michael the Archangel (Архангел Михаїл; Arkhanhel Mykhail), the supreme angel in Christian belief has a leading role in the struggle against Satan—hence, the name Arkhystratyh Mykhail ‘the Supreme Commander Michael.’ He was believed to have taken thunder away from Satan and handed it over to Saint Elijah. Ukrainians adopted Saint Michael as the patron saint of hunters and the city of Kyiv.

Wikipedia: Michael the Archangel. A 13th-century Byzantine icon from the Monastery of St. Catherine, Sina

A classic fight of Evil versus Good.  Perhaps the best indicator is a country’s prolife stance:  On July 7, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law  a number of severe restrictions to religious freedom, essentially banning preaching, praying, proselytizing, and disseminating religious materials outside of officially-designated locations.    It is no coincidence that the main reasons for Russia’s annual population decline are high death rate, low birth rate, high rate of abortions, and a low level of immigration. According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Russia has a very high death rate of 13.4 deaths per 1000 people per year.  In 2005, 1.6 million abortions were registered in Russia; 20% of these involved girls under the age of 18. Official statistics put the number of abortions at 737,948 in 2016. As of 2010, the abortion rate was 37.4 abortions per year per 1000 women aged 15–44 years, the highest of any country reported in UN data. While in the U.S. we have Black Genocide:  The killing of preborns, mostly African American, enabled by progressive policies and the main stream media, Russia has its own genocide as a result of banning Christianity

On the other hand, prior to 1991, abortion in Ukraine was governed by the abortion laws of the Soviet Union, while the laws have not changed since then abortion rates have fallen from 109 abortions per 1000 women  to 21.2  as of 2010. Abortion rates in Ukraine and Belarus have converged in recent years, creating a large gap with post-Soviet Russia.

While Archbishop José Gomez, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, on Thursday encouraged the undertaking of prayer and fasting for an end to the Ukraine conflict. “On behalf of my brother bishops, I echo the Holy Father’s call for prayer and fasting to end the war in Ukraine. In times of trouble, we call on the tender mercy of God … to guide our feet to the way of peace (Luke 1:78-79). May our prayers, joined with those of people around the world, help guide those waging war to end the meaningless suffering and restore peace,” Archbishop Gomez said Feb. 24. Catholic Relief Services has launched an urgent appeal  to raise funds to help those affected. 

Catholic Relief Services Help Ukraine Campaign

CRS and Caritas partners on the ground are preparing across Ukraine and in bordering countries, ready to provide safe shelter, hot meals, hygiene supplies, fuel to keep warm, transport to safe areas, counseling support and more. “Your help is needed in Ukraine where there are already more than 2.9 million people in need of assistance. There is great risk of additional suffering both within Ukraine and for those who may flee to neighboring countries for safety.  CRS and our partners need immediate support to meet both ongoing needs, as well as those related to families forced to flee their homes as the situation intensifies.”

Pope Francis is  calling the world to repentance and to join the Church in praying and fasting for an end to the war in Ukraine.

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