Ukraine war is a reminder of an invisible spiritual battle, Catholic leader says

Women with Ukraine flag in front of a destroyed house Viacheslav Boiko/Shutterstock.

The war in Ukraine is a reminder of the invisible spiritual battle that Christians fight every day against the temptation to sin, the leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church said on Wednesday.

“This war reminds us more and more of the rules of unseen warfare, the spiritual struggle that every Christian wages with the devil, with evil, and his servants,” Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said in a video message issued on March 30.

“Today I want to recall another rule of this spiritual struggle,” he said. “Evil always hides in the dark. If the devil and evil deeds are brought to light, if they are debunked, then immediately the devil loses strength. He is destroyed in the light.”

Shevchuk, who is based in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, said that the light of God’s truth weakens and disarms the devil.

“Therefore, if we hide or conceal our sins, our flaws, they become stronger, they dominate us. But when we bring them to light, go to confession, speak of them truthfully to ourselves, and open our hearts to a spiritual father, it is as if we bring the devil to the light and take away his power,” he said.

The 51-year-old major archbishop thanked people working in mass media and communications “who tell the truth at the cost of their own lives.”

“They tell the truth about the suffering and pain of Ukraine,” he said, noting that in Russia words such as “war” are banned in the media.

“I thank all those who have the courage to tell the truth, who not only hear the truth about Ukraine, but bring it to the world and thereby unmask, bring the devil to light, disarm him. And it gives us the strength to be victorious,” Shevchuk said.

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk records a video message on March 30, 2022.
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk records a video message on March 30, 2022.

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic leader said it was possible to become complicit in other people’s sins by remaining silent about sin or by praising sin.

“Today I want to urge all of you not to be involved in the sins of others. Do not become complicit in the crimes that are taking place in Ukraine through your own silence or fear of telling the truth,” he said.

“Bring the devil to light and we will overcome,” he added. “For we feel that God’s light illumines the hearts of Ukrainians today. And the truth for which we live and die is the content of our strength, resilience, and will be the key to Ukraine’s victory.”

In his video message on March 31, Shevchuk reflected on the resilience of the Ukrainian people, as the conflict enters its sixth week.

He said that people’s ability to survive had a spiritual level characterized by moral struggle.

“We know very well that every Christian, by the power of the holy mystery of baptism, is already called to fight, to fight evil,” he said.

Quoting Ephesians 6:12, he added: “The Apostle Paul says that ‘we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.’”

Shevchuk noted that in the Eastern Christian tradition there are examples of this ascetic attitude among monks, as well as “stylites,” who lived on pillars, and “kalybites,” who lived in huts.

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“They stood despite the cold or heat, rain or snow, and by standing, standing before God, they defeated the devil,” he said. “Their example is extremely important for us, for us in Ukraine today.”

Spiritual standing means the strength of the spirit, he explained, “not to be like a weather vane who changes his moral and spiritual attitude in accordance with certain benefits or social and political winds.”

“I call upon the whole world to stand,” the major archbishop urged. “To stand before the attacks of evil. To stand in the face of attacks of falsehood. Because every war is accompanied by a great lie. I urge everyone to stand with Ukraine.”

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