For His death is my life

As the specter of the two-year anniversary of war in Ukraine passes, war, violence, and death continue to reign amongst our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and in the Holy Land. The blood of children, women, and men made in the image and likeness of God cries out from the ground it soaks. The barrenness left from rockets and bombs betrays the spiritual barrenness that gives rise to war and its justifications, and the emptiness that we all feel in the face of such loss.

As has become common in our day, not only are there a multitude of positions and opinions about these horrific conflicts, but those opinions are also cast in the most extreme and opposing terms as seem possible to express. On the stage of entrenched and unbending disagreement, not only are people losing their earthly lives, but they are also initiating divisions within the Church and putting their souls in danger of eternal destruction. So inflamed with hate, infatuated with disgust at the evils openly committed, and convinced that those who do not share their viewpoint and express it in the same terms have made friends with the devil himself, we have forged an idol that consumes us and distracts us from our duty, not as soldiers of this or that country, but as chosen and sealed warriors of Jesus Christ.

As we did two years ago, we now find ourselves again at the doors of the Great Lent. As soldiers of Christ, we know that our General approaches in His glory, and we must prepare to participate in His victory over death. Our first assignment is to be watchful over ourselves: our conscience, our heart. Hurrying from task to task, distraction to distraction, we have abandoned our post and left the fortress of our heart open for plunder. Our barracks is in disarray, the filth of passions and sins scattered all about; the weapons of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving we have left unsharpened, disassembled, and unused in the armory. We have trusted the reconnaissance of the enemy, but ignored the revelation of Jesus Christ. The demons have fashioned of us a plaything because of our carelessness, and we violate the chain of command by hearkening to their orders and ignoring the life-giving and saving commandments of the Wonderful Counsellor "whose government is upon His shoulder."

We pray unceasingly for peace on earth, good will toward men, and specifically for the end of violence in Ukraine and the Holy Land, and we do so with great care that we not conflate the person of a president or a patriarch with the entire Church, the Body of Christ that must strive to be of one mouth, one heart, and one mind. Our king is Jesus Christ; our homeland—His embrace; our brothers and sisters—all men. Let us love one another, let us not add division to strife, let us not become citizens of a far country like the Prodigal, but citizens of the Kingdom of God.

«Стяжи дух мирен, и тогда тысячи вокруг тебя спасутся.»
"Acquire a peaceful spirit, and then thousands around you will be saved."
—St. Seraphim of Sarov