March 8, 2022, 1:00 PM

Ukraine is no stranger to war. And she is no stranger to Mary, the mother of God. As depicted in the famous image of “Our Lady of Protector of Ukraine,” which is often referred to as the “Intercession of Theotokos (mother of God),” Mary is Ukraine’s protector. A major attack by a foreign army occurred in the former area of Ukraine in 911 AD. As related through oral history, Mary appeared to St. Andrew the Fool for Christ. She appeared to spread out her cloak over Ukraine as a symbol of her protection. As a result of her own suffering, she became the comforter for the persecuted and marginalized, as well as the protector in the time of war.

May this image assist us in learning that we, like Mary, are the protectors of others. Through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving we make an impact on the lives of others. We, thereby, have the ability to change our part in causing war, culture annihilation, and fractured relationships with one another. As St. Francis prayed, so too may we become instruments of God’s peace. The work of change belongs not only to God but also to us.

Note that this image depicts Mary covering not only the church but also families, animals, birds, the woods, the village and homes. There is nothing that is not covered by the grace of God. As we pray for peace during this Lenten season, may we pray also for the restoration of all of God’s world.

With prayer and encouragement,

Fr. John Meulendyk

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