Prayers for Ukrainian churches and people

Today, Friday March 25, Pope Francis consecrates Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Archbishop Alexander Sample of the Archdiocese of Oregon joins the Holy Father and bishops around the world for the international consecration.

Archbishop Sample had asked Catholics across the Archdiocese of Portland to pray in a pre-consecration novena, March 17-25.

“Since the start of the Russian aggression in 2014, Ukrainian Catholics have demanded this act as an urgent need to prevent the escalation of the war and the dangers coming from Russia,” Major Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk said March 16.

Archbishop Shevchuk is the leader of the 5 million members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, including Oregonians and Washingtonians who are members of the Nativity of the Mother of God Parish in Springfield or the Nativity Mission of Christ in the Portland area.

Most of the members of these two communities are not ethnic Ukrainians, but rather have been drawn to the mystery and beauty of the rite.

“It’s not an ivory tower or overly philosophical religion; it’s for everyday people who want something that feels real and beautiful,” said Paul Warila, who along with his wife, Michelle, cantor for the Nativity of Christ Mission.

“We feel really lucky to be able to be part of the Ukrainian church,” Warila said. “It’s not only beautiful, but also inspiring and deeply meaningful. And we are still capable of being Catholic.

Like other non-Ukrainians in the communities, the Warilas are now being taught not just the sanctity of their chosen rite, but the courage of the Ukrainian people.

“It’s impossible to wrap your brain around the myriad of horrific events, actions and reactions,” Michelle Warila said. “We are not made for that.

She said she was heeding the advice of Ukrainian Catholic priest and scholar Father Andriy Chirovsky, who reminded his students during a March 5 speech that God loves us and that we can love God by loving our neighbor. .

Quoting this speech, Michelle Warila said: “If we disintegrate – Fr. to be, or to express the love of God.

The Warilas limit their exposure to current events but they follow Taras Tymo’s YouTube videos on what is happening in Ukraine. Tymo, a faculty member at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine, said in early March that a fundamental truth that many people outside Ukraine lacked was that Ukraine could defeat the Russians.

The invasion, obviously something Russian President Vladimir Putin thought would be quick and painless, was more like “trying to swallow a porcupine,” Paul Warila said.

The Biden administration used this metaphor last fall when it was already organizing sanctions and positioning weapons to help Ukraine with a “porcupine strategy” if Russia attacked its neighbor.

“Let’s not dodge this,” Warila said. “Putin is mean. His approach is not hampered by any sense of decency. He seems to be on an uncontrollable track.

It was distressing, the Warilas said, that Putin was seen by some Americans as a savior of mainstream Christianity.

Warila believes that misperception stems from a tangle of partial truths, falsehoods and clever branding.

Putin spoke out against “the exaggerated sexual freedom and consumerism running amok in the West”, Warila said. “Well, I’m against that too.”

Rich Lowry, the former editor of the National Review, wrote: “imprisoning political opposition, murdering critics, invading and dismembering neighboring countries, enriching a kleptocracy and installing a de facto dictator for life” are not “accidental weaknesses; they are at the heart of Putin’s repressive and corrupt regime.

Putin is the man who called the breakup of the Soviet Union the greatest tragedy of the last century.

Warila pointed out that just because Putin wears an icon doesn’t mean he’s good.

Putin also paid for an icon for a new Russian Orthodox church outside Moscow, the Armed Forces Cathedral, which opened in 2020, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War II – a story center for Putin.

The plans for this cathedral originally called for mosaics of Josef Stalin, the brutal Soviet leader, and Putin – mosaics removed before the cathedral was inaugurated.

Historians say this is what lies behind Putin’s bizarre call for the “denazification” of Ukraine. He has created something akin to a cult tale of Russia continuing to triumph over a Nazi West, which includes the United States.

Putin’s dream of restoring the glory of a Russian empire resonates with Patriarch Cyril of Moscow, head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Patriarch Kirill called Putin’s rule a “miracle of God” in 2012. In a Lenten sermon last week, he described the invasion of Ukraine as a struggle “for eternal salvation” for Russians.

Kyiv and Crimea are important to the Russian Orthodox Church because Christianity came to Ukraine in 988, when Prince Vladimir the Great of Kyiv was baptized in Crimea.

Missionaries from Constantinople soon followed, building churches and performing liturgies, and the new faith spread across the steppes, eventually reaching what would become Moscow.

Russia sees this as their spiritual beginnings as Christians, with kyiv their spiritual heart.

Putin and Patriarch Kirill told the Russian people that today’s task is to recreate the Russkiy mir, the Russian world, a medieval concept that must at least include Ukraine and Belarus, and at best would include all Russian interests in the world, a stronger and purer world than the West and protected from it.

The fundamental beliefs of the Russian world have been listed as autocracy, orthodoxy and nationalism.

Ukraine, however, rejected the vision of Putin and Patriarch Cyril. It fought to regain its original independence whenever it could, from medieval times to the Soviet era and beyond. Her story is a bewildering mix of independence and subjugation. More recently, it has been independent since 1991, when the Soviet Union granted autonomy to its member republics.

Even Ukrainian Orthodoxy is independent, with perhaps half of Ukrainian Orthodox churches allied with the Moscow Patriarchate.

Others are part of the autocephalous (autonomous) Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the Kyiv Patriarchate, allied to the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Church, Bartholomew I of Constantinople.

This church suffered under Russian rule in Crimea. Only eight of its 46 churches and cathedrals remain before the Russian invasion in 2014. And in 2017, armed bailiffs forced their way into Simferopol’s Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral, taking away icons, crosses, carpets, chalices and other treasures. Archbishop Kliment attempted to block them and demanded medical attention for the injuries he had sustained.

“Not only is Ukrainian identity suppressed, but a Russian identity is supported in a wide-ranging effort to Russify the peninsula,” the nonprofit Freedom House wrote in a 2017 report on Crimea.

Part of Ukraine’s identity is freedom of religion. It is home to vibrant Protestant congregations, and nearly 10% of Ukrainians belong to the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which began in 1595, when seven Ukrainian Orthodox bishops restored communion with Rome.

Stalin arrested the 10 Ukrainian Rite Catholic bishops between 1945 and 1950. Most of them died in prison. The church, then illegal in Ukraine, only existed in the diaspora.

In the United States, there are more than 200 Ukrainian Rite Catholic parishes, including the parish of Springfield. Ukrainian Catholic communities are also present in Canada, Argentina, Brazil and European countries.

In 1990 it came out of hiding in Ukraine, and there are now about 4.1 million Ukrainian Rite Catholics.

Today, however, Ukrainian priests, whether Orthodox or Catholic, must celebrate liturgies in bomb shelters. Many churches of all rites have been destroyed by indiscriminate Russian bombs and missiles.

On March 20, Pope Francis, speaking at the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, said our wrong and violent choices can trigger evil. “Let us therefore ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to fill us with hope and courage, and to kindle in us the desire for conversion.”

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With the photo of Shevchuk

“May the merciful Lord grant Ukraine victory over its Russian aggressor. May the Lord God grant victory to our Ukrainian army, for which we especially pray today in prayer to our Lord God,” Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said in a video message March 21. “Our towns and villages once again shook from the shelling. Once again, cries, cries and cries are heard from the Ukrainian land to the heavens, to the ears of God.


(with Ukraine_Ephrem07-22)

The Lenten prayer of Saint Ephrem the Syrian

O Lord and Master of my life, remove from me the spirit of indifference and discouragement, the thirst for power and useless chatter.

Instead, grant me, Your servant, the spirit of fullness of being, humility, patience and love.

O Lord and King, grant me the grace to be aware of my sins and not to judge my brother; for you are blessed now and always and forever. Amen.


Novena and consecration of Ukraine and Russia

The live stream of Archbishop Sample’s consecration begins at 9:00 a.m. PST (5:00 p.m. Rome).

The novena prayer is here:

The live stream link will be posted at

These two links are also accessible via


Learn more

• The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine by Serhii Plokhy

• Taras Tymo’s YouTube videos can be viewed at

• Father Andriy Chirovsky’s 35-minute history of Christianity in Ukraine is available at

• The Nativity of Christ Mission was first established as the Andrey Sheptytsky Ukrainian Catholic Apostolate of Portland. More information on this can be found at – although a new website is in the works.

• Nativity Mission Liturgies

The next liturgies of the Mission Nativity of Christ are:

Sunday, April 3, 3 p.m. at Woodburn Grange Hall

Sunday April 16, probably 11 a.m., Easter Holy Easter, Chapel of the Father Bernard Youth Center, Mont Ange

• Springfield Nativity of the Mother of God information on the Ukrainian Catholic Church is available at

• Father Richard Janowicz, pastor at the Nativity of the Mother of God, offers a link that channels funds to help Ukrainian war victims on this website. It can also be found at: The church had raised about $40,000 by mid-March.

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