This Calamitous Lent
With war raging in Europe this has become a peculiarly unique Lent, but one in which, nonetheless, there are special graces available if one can accept them. Death has become more real in these times for many and offers, a new way to look at life, or maybe and truer way - revisited in times of conflict. For those who have no idea if they will be alive in a week, priorities are drastically shifted. There is the bodily fight for survival and the reflection on a life lived at the same time. Am I ready to depart this world? What will my legacy be? Is the world a better place for my having passed through it? What would they write about me on my tombstone? Have I loved? Was my life lived as a gift for others? Searing questions which I also have to grapple with when I ponder them. These were the words the Lord spoke to me this Lent in particular. How am I to be for others?
In times of turmoil the greatest battle wages is the battle for inner peace. Only in the place of peace can we discern properly. This becomes an intense battle when intense emotions are provoked and become an uncontrolled source of noise and agitation. I am far removed from the war in Ukraine, yet even as I read about what's going on I find myself tempted towards hating Vladimir Putin and and seeking to look at pictures of him to despise him. Then I have to repent, to bring him back to God and ask for his conversion and forgive him despite the monstrous deeds he is committing. I cannot imaging what heroism of forgiveness would be required of the Ukrainian sheltering from his bombs. Yet the Holy Spirit provides the grace to live this way.
The surge of emotion towards hate is a dangerous tide in times of war. Pray, pray, pray for peace, to allow it to well up in your own heart and flow out into the world. It will be in a time such as this that the man of iniquity will step onto the world stage as a harbinger of false peace to give vent to everyone's intense emotions and offer an end to suffering. Though he will subtly deny Christ, only those who truly love Jesus will have the courage to oppose him before the consensus of the mob. God alone knows when he will appear. I believe he is present in the world today waiting for his time - that is just my opinion though. God knows.
A holy Russian, also of the name of Vladimir, Vladimir Solovyev, wrote a story entitled "A Short Story of The Antichrist" in 1900, before the Rise of Communism. It is truly prophetic and speaks to our time.