COLUMN: Peace be with you

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It has certainly been with heavy hearts what we have heard and seen of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine at the end of february. This war and violence has been a continuation and escalation of the tragic behavior of Russia toward their sovereign neighbor beginning with the war in the Crimea and other eastern sections of that country.

As some have said these tragic and sad events are the most significant threats to peace since the end of the cold war. Adding to the sadness is that these two nations are linked not only by geography but also ethnically and religiously through the orthodox branch of the christian faith. Our prayers can only go out to the brave people of the Ukraine and their leaders and all those assisting with refugees and other relief agencies at his time 

In the catholic diocese of Syracuse bishop Douglas Lucia has asked the catholic faithful to invoke the intercession of the blessed virgin mary in this cause of peace. Many who are familiar with the time honored prayer of the rosary are reciting that prayer in groups before and after masses in the parishes of the diocese and also as part of their own personal devotions. 

On the feast day of the Annunciation of the Lord that is celebrated of March 25, a special mass of consecration of the Ukraine and Russia was celebrated at the cathedral in Syracuse. Bishop Lucia asked priests of the diocese to attend the mass in solidarity with Pope Francis in Rome and with priests and bishops throughout the world as a sign of unity in the cause of peace. Of special significance was the prayer of consecration that was said at that time. Highlighting a few line of that beautiful prayer are as follows:

“Therefore o mother hear our prayer. star of the sea, do not let us be shipwrecked on the tempest of war. ark of the covenant inspire paths of peace and projects of reconciliation...”

In the city of Rome, many of the churches are ringing their bells on the Saturdays in the cause of peace. Many churches and groups are taking up collections and doing other charitable works in the spirit of assistance to the many refugees who are being displaced from the war and to be of help to relief agencies tasked with the work of helping these many millions cope thru these very difficult times.

Let’s conclude this reflection with the words of St. Francis in his beautiful prayer that is also a popular religious hymn: make me a channel of your peace, where there is hatred let me sow love,  where there is injury pardon and where there is doubt faith and where there is despair hope and where there is darkness lite. Amen. 

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