Spiritual Warfare

Ukrainian flag with dove of peace


We are overwhelmed by the merciless evil that we see perpetrated before our eyes, day by day, as yet more havoc and pointless destruction is wreaked upon innocents in Ukraine.  We learn of a maternity hospital bombed in Mariupol, women in labour and children buried. We are at the same time lifted up by the courage and perseverance of the Ukrainians. Having lost their home and all possessions in a bombed apartment block, a mother took her child to the Polish border to hand her over to relatives.  She then returned to look after 50 orphans in their decimated suburb and her husband went to fight for his homeland’s future.

Fr. Józef Kucharczyk, O.C.D. is responsible for the outreach of the friars from Krakow to their Ukrainian brothers and sisters, as well as to the Carmelite nuns who have ministered in Ukraine since 1630. He is currently staying with the remaining nuns in Kiev to coordinate the activities of all Carmelites in Ukraine in helping the bombarded people with shelter, food and medicines.  Father Józef said:

“I feel that I’m participating in two wars: The first is the physical, military war, with bombing, fear, suffering, death.   The other war, which is also real, is the spiritual war.  Here, in this second war … the war of prayer, the war of the rosary … we are fighting against the devil, we’re fighting in the name of the Lord, fighting once again on Golgotha, fighting and waiting for the peace of the Risen Lord. This is what I feel: spiritual warfare!…. we are really fighting with the devil! This is everyone’s feeling.”

St. Teresa of Avila, the great reformer of the Carmelite Order, tells us that the whole intent of prayer is apostolic (not for our personal salvation).  St. Teresa felt almost paralysed by her inability to have a direct effect on the loss of souls.  No doubt we also have that sense of impotence against such overwhelming odds now seen on our TV screens.

But Teresa had great insight. She knew that the place for action was the community in which she lived, and her response was to live the evangelical counsels (chastity, poverty or perfect charity, and obedience) to the best of her ability.  We can only try to follow in her footsteps as the fruit of prayer is love of our neighbour, which expands our love of God.  This is the church in reality, this is our apostolic mission, this has an impact on the whole Body of Christ, on the suffering people of Ukraine.

Fr. Józef added:  “In military warfare, we cannot all participate, but we can participate in spiritual warfare… This is great support for us and we feel it.”

As a parish in daily prayer (whether at home, live streaming or in church) you are no doubt praying hard for Ukraine.  Alongside the Carmelites, perhaps you would consider Fr. Józef’s suggestion of targeting your prayers as a powerful collective force against Satan and his grip on evil doers, to bolster this combat of spiritual warfare?