♦ A painful reflection
To pray is to wake up and set off, in communion
I dare to address to you a cordial and pressing appeal to prayer, a prayer which does not renounce courageous faith and communion between brothers, a prayer which is stronger than any war and any threat. Even in the calm city of Rome the voice of our brothers clearly reaches, in the heart of kyiv (capital of Ukraine): he thanks us for our prayers and our support, in the midst of the sound of sirens and gunfire nearby war.
I would like to wake up and wake you up, if you allow me, dear brothers and sisters, not to the paralyzing terror of war, but to the humble courage of those who unite, like the first Christians, to pray with the conviction that Jesus on the cross is the winner of history.
We are Discalced Carmelites and Discalced Carmelites. We are descended from hermits, some of whom were probably crusaders and who disarmed themselves to enter into another battle no less arduous and difficult. We descend from a woman who spent her life in an interior struggle to abandon herself to the Love of her life, and thus conquer her own freedom as a child of God.
We’re all fighting the same war
To paraphrase Saint Paul, if one part of the body suffers, we all suffer. We are on the side of the Ukrainian people and the Russian people, we are on the side of all peoples, against war, against all wars, including those which do not make the front page of the newspapers because they present no interest. The war did not start now. It has been going on for a long time in our country, Ukraine, and in many corners of the world, even if it does not make headlines. May I ask your prayers for the victims of this war (Ukrainians and Russians) and their families?
Some Ukrainian mothers collect dog tags of Russian soldiers killed on Ukrainian territory and thus inform Russian mothers that their sons were killed at the front. In these gestures of humanity, in the midst of the horror of war, there is the response of good and courageous hearts that think of the mothers of the victims of the opposing camp. This other war, that of those whose silent love sustains a world that seems to be collapsing. This love is victory and sustains the world.
War often reveals that we are outraged but not awake, afraid but not upright, angry but not in our way, supportive of those far away but not so attentive to those close to us, generous but safe in our zones. of comfort. To pray is to wake up to what we do not see and recognize about ourselves, our family, our community and our country, in this crucial hour for the world, the Church and Carmel.
♦ An invite
“He is coming along the way: if you give him shelter”, John of the Cross
The Carmel welcomes
Dear brothers and sisters of the Carmel of Thérèse and John of the Cross, we live in convents and well-furnished and very comfortable houses. I dare to invite you, as father and brother, to make available to refugees, with moderation and legality, so many spaces that are empty, available and unused. We must not lock ourselves in our quiet well-being, without hearing the cry of the homeless. As far as possible, I am thinking above all of Europe at the moment, we can, with the help of social organizations, make premises and part of our convents available for those who have no place where to live now. What would our prayer look like if, having enough to eat and clothe ourselves, a house and a roof, we see these caravans of mothers passing by with their children and we do not offer them, I do not say what we need, but what we don’t use and what is empty. I ask you to open your hearts to this call, to welcome and receive Jesus who asks for a place to stay, because with us there is room.
I thank you for the help you are already sending and reaching our Ukrainian brothers and sisters, and I encourage you to continue to be generous, as you can and see fit.
It’s not just Ukraine
I also confide to you so many injustices, wars and willful oversights by the media, in the four corners of the world, and not only in Ukraine: the poor of the Sahel make no noise; child victims of sexual exploitation do not scream either; peaceful peoples in some African countries are being silenced by Islamic terrorism; tribes are being massacred these days in the Amazon rainforest for economic interests; there have been dramatic floods in Australia, in the diocese of our brother, Bishop Gregory Homeming, ocd, bishop of Lismore; the dream of many who have tried to reach Europe by sea, drowned in silence and stranded on our beaches; the cries of many abused women, in countries where protest is systematically crushed, do not reach us; Colombia is experiencing a frightening situation of political and economic uncertainty; so many white-collar mafias crush others, even blessed by men and women who claim to believe in a God whom they crucify in the innocent; so many abandoned elderly people live alone in our big cities… And hardly anyone talks about Syria or Afghanistan anymore. So many and so many situations… it’s not just Ukraine, of course.
I ask you, brothers and sisters, not to remain silent in the face of so many realities for which we want to pray together. Let us know the situation in your country or region so that we can be informed. We want to be a united body that suffers and celebrates as a family. This is our path to Easter, and the meaning of union: with Mary and Joseph, at the foot of so many crosses in history, visible and invisible, this road already heralds Easter morning.
Good climb towards Easter, if we went to Jerusalem with the suffering Christ!