Fr. Michael has been sending notes as he travels. Below are two of his updates, one from last week and the other received today …
“After a wonderful week in Normandy at the home of some friends I left France to travel via Warsaw to arrive in Lviv, Ukraine. There must have been 1,000 Poles going to Moscow for the World Cup but I got to bypass them all in my wheelchair with my sprained knee which was made worth it when I was able to whiz past the revelers and the passport lines.
The first official act of my stay at the Ukrainian Catholic University here was to go to church. There was a special prayer service in the university church to pray for the student/soldiers who are being held captive in Russian prisons, the sad effect of the war but not as sad as the prayers that are offered every day for the dead on both sides. Here in Lviv we are far from the action but the emotion is deep in everyones consciousness.
So my first sharing is a call to prayer. For peace. For everyone. On both sides of any conflict.
To be on a university campus again, surrounded by promise and energy and hope brings me back to the 23 years I spent at Pratt Institute as chaplain and into the future with them. A long time ago Louise Nevelson took a long look at Pratt’s graduates and said to me:
i want to grow old in the world that these young people help recreate.”
“ Someplace in western Ukraine, about an hour from Lviv, there is a Studite monastery in the village of Univ. It is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary or what we in the Latin church call The Assumption.
It is Sunday today and people have come for the Divine Liturgy and to honor the miraculous icon of the Blessed Mother which is just inside the church to the right. After the liturgy (mass) people lined up to venerate the icon and to pray. No one was in a hurry. Each one took their turn. And when they finally faced the face of the Mother of God I watched from the side as they bowed their heads, kissed the icon, first of the Divine Child she was holding and then the hands that hold Him. Then in solemn gesture and prayer their foreheads touching the icon they each entered into a communion with the Sacred. Even if just for a moment.
And then the next person came doing the same but as personally as the person before and as the person to follow.
When the line of more than fifty people finished, parents came in with their children to teach them how to do what they themselves were taught.
Was it to kiss a picture? Or to bow before a sacred image? Or to take their place in the cloud of witnesses that stands before the throne of God.
Or all of these and more.?
It takes a place like a monastery to give people the space they need to be found by God.”