Vatican cardinal celebrates Mass for peace in Ukraine

Cardinal Pietro Parolin celebrates Mass for Peace in Ukraine at St. Peter’s Basilica, March 16, 2022. Cardinal Pietro Parolin celebrates Mass for Peace in Ukraine at St. Peter’s Basilica, March 16, 2022. | Daniel Ibañez/CNA.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin on Wednesday celebrated Mass at the Vatican for peace in Ukraine, saying that the war is not primarily a political problem, but a spiritual one, and that prayer can change hearts and minds.

“We are here this evening to implore God for peace in Ukraine and to ask him to help every man and woman of goodwill to be an artisan of peace,” the Vatican secretary of state said at the live-streamed March 16 Mass with diplomats.

Among the ambassadors present at the Mass was Aleksandr Avdeyev, Russia’s representative to the Holy See.

“The words of Jesus our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount resound: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,’” Parolin said.

The Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica was held at the request of ambassadors to the Holy See. The Vatican has diplomatic relations with 183 states.

“If we are here to pray for peace it is because we are convinced that prayer is never useless, that prayer can have an effect on the most desperate moments, that above all, it can change hearts and minds,” Parolin said.

The cardinal quoted God’s words from the Book of Ezekiel: “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

“Peace is a characteristic of God himself,” he said. “St. Paul called him the God of peace.”

During Wednesday’s Mass, Alexey Gotovsky, an EWTN Vatican producer from Russia and Kazakhstan, read one of the prayers of the faithful in Russian.

The first reading, from the Prophet Jeremiah, was in English.

“Heed me, O Lord, and listen to what my adversaries say. Must good be repaid with evil that they should dig a pit to take my life? Remember that I stood before you to speak in their behalf, to turn away your wrath from them,” Jeremiah 18:20 said.

The day’s Gospel, read in French, was from St. Matthew. It recounted Jesus’ interaction with the mother of the sons of Zebedee, the disciples James and John. She asked Jesus if her sons could sit at his right and left side in his kingdom.

Commenting on the encounter, Parolin said: “We could say it is a legitimate request of a mother, who like all mothers, wants the best for her children. But this request clashes with the words just spoken by Jesus.”

“It is a clash between two different logics, two different glories. The glory of God which passes through the Cross and the glory of man, which looks for worldly success and power,” he said, adding that one logic led to death and nothingness and the other to eternal life.

Per crucem ad lucem. By means of the cross, he came to the light, he came to glory,” he said.

“You do not know what you are asking,” Jesus told the mother of James and John, as recounted in Matthew’s Gospel. “Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.”

“In simplicity, in this short verse, is presented the greatness of God,” Parolin commented.

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He said that the problem of war was not just of a political or economic character, but a spiritual one.

“Precisely on this spiritual plane this evening we want to allow ourselves to be changed, and we want to fix in our hearts the words of Jesus, ‘Among you, it shall not be so,’ that we heard pronounced in today’s Gospel.”

He added: “Do not think, dear brothers and sisters, that if we really put into practice these words of Jesus, this example of Jesus, all of the conflicts of the earth, little by little, will disappear.”

“Do not think that if we listen a little to the lesson of Our Lord, they will stop firing their weapons or, indeed, that they will not even be produced or distributed.”

“The peace that Jesus teaches us,” the cardinal said, “is, in fact, made of relationships where instead of enslaving ourselves to fighting each other, we serve and help each other ... we liberate and grow together, so that one exists for the other, one makes the other grow.”

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