God can win the war, but only if the Russians let him
Over month ago, over a billion Catholics prayed for peace in Ukraine.
This prayer appears to have gone unheard, the war is escalating, and all signs seem to indicate that it will not end soon. There will be much bloodshed and tragedy so we find ourselves asking, ‘Has God ignored us?’ How can God be good if he has ignored a billion prayers?
God has allowed this war to happen, and to continue, but I don’t believe that Mr. Putin asked for his permission. I’m reminded of a situation from the bible, King David has to choose a punishment for Israel: either a drought of seven years; three months of warfare; or three days of disease (2 Samuel 24: 11-15). David declares that, ‘the Lord is kind and merciful, it is better for the Lord to punish us than men.’
It is better to be at the mercy of God, than the mercy of humankind. War is caused by humans, not God.
Drought and pandemic are natural disasters, they are caused by elements which God has control over, he has created the world and shaped life upon it. Jesus cured the sick and calmed the storm, but He never stopped the Roman occupation of Israel. War is a supernatural disaster, it is caused by the souls of humans.
As such, it is much harder to remedy. Human souls are free, we have the free will to do good or to do evil. We have the freedom to live a good and peaceful life, on the other hand we have the freedom to do great and tremendous evil to one another. War is caused by human sinfulness. The desire for power that leads to lies and fear of our neighbours, the impulse to violence, the wilful ignoring of diplomacy, of truth, the refusal to arbitrate, the desire for vengeance. In short, the deadly sins of pride, envy and anger. This war has been caused by the stubbornness and vile ambition of Vladimir Putin. He is the one who is ignoring the prayers of peace loving peoples. It is he, not God, who caused this war, and he will face justice in this life or the next.
War is the result of sin, it is the result of our freedom to do evil. If God were to take our freedom of will, it wouldn’t matter if the Russians win, because we would already be living under dictatorship. Without freedom, there is no love. The people of Ukraine treasure this freedom, they treasure their right to self-determination, their right to choose good over evil. This is the battle that every human soul faces, the war within ourselves between doing right and wrong.
This battle is fought in our conscience, and this is where God is. God isn’t guiding missiles or loading guns, God is in the heart of every sinner. He fights from behind enemy lines. God can end this war, but only if the Russians let him. God is in the heart of these invaders and calling them to repent, calling them to be brave enough to desert or mutiny, brave enough to refuse to fight an unjust war. It is up to them whether or not they listen to him. We must pray for them, we must pray that they have the openness of heart to examine their consciences and the courage to follow them.
Is prayer futile? If war is caused by human sinfulness, should we continue to pray for peace, or is it useless. Praying is always going to be more useful than not praying. Jesus tells us to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us. Not solely because it will soften their hearts, but because it will perfect our love. If we want what God wants, and love what he loves, we will become more like Him. If our prayers don’t convert violent hearts, then may they convert ours away from violence. If peace isn’t to be found in Ukraine, then may it be found in us.
Thank you for the article by Fr Alex Osborne. Perhaps my layman’s view may support his views.
When at school in the fifties, we used to pray every day for the conversion of Russia. We lived with a constant fear of atomic, later nuclear, conflict. But I think most of us probably let this prayer slip as we moved into careers and families. It seems to me that today it is as important as ever to keep those prayers going again.
I do pray again for the conversion of Russia, for a St Paul-like conversion of Putin and for the people of Ukraine. I use the Memorare and the Our Father, with particular emphasise on ’Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’.
Is any of this doing anything positive? I have convinced myself of the truth that our prayers are often answered in a way we are not aware of. I firmly believe that this short prayer session will save a life every time I go through it. Only personal problem with a belief like that is I feel guilty not praying every moment. But I suppose I can pray all the time. Surrounded by a beautiful family, I can use that as a prayer. Sounds like win-win to me.
Even though we don’t know how it will be answered, I’m certain that prayer is never wasted.
Of course one of the complications in this whole situation is that Putin thinks, or pretends to think, that God is on his side, and he seems to be well supported in this by the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church in that country. I suspect these people think Russia has already undergone a conversion experience, after the break up of the Soviet Union. God is so often claimed by both sides in a conflict or war! Sadly, being a Christian does not always translate to acting with compassion and justice.
Jesus mentions children, bring them to me and be childlike.
Our Queen and Mother appeared to children many times, not Priests or adults. Why?
Children are simple and simply love, trusting the parents.
Who suffers most in domestic violence and war? Children,families and communities.
The Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and St Joseph were not spared. Lack of compassion from all levels of society caused God to be born in a freezing shed then become a refugee.
Jesus didnt grow up and hate the Romans or His own people who abandoned Him. He said forgive all others, pray and fast. From Fatima, Lourdes, etc, Mary almost begs us to pray( Rosary,etc), fast and do penance. God hears the cry of the poor and children. Not Sinods and intellectual committees. The tower of Bable or babble is falling again.
While God is an all supreme mystery, He loves simplicity. St Peter and the others had no degrees, God worked miracles through there simplicity. St Paul was a scholar, but needed to be humbled.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is supreme. Always will be. Too few Catholics believe in the true presence anymore. If they did, the confessionals would be full. Silence at Mass would ensue. If you were invited to a dinner with a king or President, would you turn up late in filthy rags and gossip all the way through the dinner? I have done that and regret it with my whole heart.
Today is an anniversary of Fatima. Today is not long after Divine Mercy Sunday. Jesus told St Faustina, I offer this devotion as the LAST means of hope for the World. Not Synods, not committees, not Nato, not politics. A childlike return to the Sacraments and trust in Jesus is our ONLY hope.