Vigil and support for Ukraine

Vigil and support for Ukraine

Scroll down to find:

  • Vigil for Ukraine
  • Supporting Ukraine: Some thoughts from Lorna Bourdeaux
  • A Declaration on the “Russian World” Teaching, for your consideration
  • A prisoner’s Morning Prayer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Light a candle for Ukraine

St Mary’s Church Iffley

2-6pm On Sundays

Pray Think Hope

Some thoughts from Lorna Bourdeaux

I received the following via email on 8th March. The text is in Russian and I am providing you with a translation via Google translate so it may not be 100% accurate. And it is not just the translation which may not be accurate – the document itself, although plausible, may be a fake. But I am including it because it gives an insight into the way the Russian/Ukrainian talks are ‘orchestrated’. Our prayers must surely include pleas to God that all parties to peace talks will act with integrity and that malign intentions will be thwarted. We are all painfully aware of how information is being manipulated and misused and we need to pray that we are all led ‘into the path of truth’. One of my contacts has suggested that the originator, who styles himself ‘SVR General’, may be a hoax/phoney and actually working for the Kremlin’s disinformation department and sending out messages to disorientate his recipients! I think this tells us that we cannot rely on our own judgement – we need supernatural wisdom to discern the truth.

Dear subscribers and guests of the channel! Yesterday another round of Russian-Ukrainian talks took place in the Republic of Belarus. The parties were unable to reach any significant agreements and “progress” only affected the conduct of humanitarian missions. Shortly before the talks began, Putin spoke via videoconference with the head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, and gave him instructions.
Putin demanded that Medinsky bring from the negotiations any document signed by the parties, up to an agreement of intent, with any, even minimal concessions from the Ukrainian side, which could be presented to the domestic consumer in Russia, if not as a de facto act of surrender, then as a weighty victory and a clear sign that the war was not started in vain and everything is moving in the right direction. But Medinsky could not persuade the Ukrainian delegation to sign anything and returned with nothing. Putin was very annoyed by the failure of Medinsky and expressed his dissatisfaction in a rude way. After, Putin, at a meeting with Patrushev and Shoigu, discussed the possibility of replacing Medinsky in the negotiating group with another figure. Failures have haunted Putin since the end of last year, and all his undertakings end in a severe crisis, any way out of which only aggravates the situation. There are no good options left for Putin, and with his recent ability to choose the worst option available for implementation, we would venture to assume that the war will take on hypertrophied forms, but, by the way, we have repeatedly warned about this. Yes, and the fact that Russians still have the opportunity to use the global, and not the sovereign Internet, is not the prudence of the authorities, but the lack of technical capabilities. Although Putin has reported that in the near future everything will be ready for this. And if the disconnection from the Internet does take place, then it will definitely be not just an iron but a reinforced concrete curtain.

The next items are about the response to the war from the Russian Orthodox Church and from the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. The following comes from the website of Radio Free Europe:

In an unusual move, more than 150 Russian Orthodox clerics have called for an immediate stop to the ongoing war in Ukraine in an open letter issued on March 1st. It is very rare for such a large number of religious clerics of the Orthodox Church to openly challenge President Putin. In recent years, the Russian Orthodox Church and its leader, Patriarch Kirill, who did not sign the letter, have fully supported Putin’s policies. At least 176 Orthodox clerics said that they “respect the freedom of any person given to him or her by God,” adding that the people of Ukraine “must make their own choices by themselves, not at the point of assault rifles and without pressure from either West or East.” The letter says the clerics “bewail” the suffering that has been “undeservingly imposed on our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.” “We call on all opposing sides for a dialogue because there is no other alternative to violence,” the letter says. “Only an ability to hear the other side can give us hope to get out of the abyss our countries were thrown into several days ago. Let yourself and us all enter the Easter Lent in the spirit of faith and love. Stop the war.” There was no comment or other reaction from Patriarch Kirill or from Russian officials. The letter makes references to “judgment day” and “eternal suffering,” saying nothing on Earth can prevent that judgment. “We remind that Christ’s blood shed by the Saviour for the world’s life will be taken in the celebration of the Communion by those who gives murderous orders, not as life, but as eternal suffering.”

There was a powerful commentary on this in the form of a letter to the Times on 8th March from the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams:

“Last weekend Orthodox Christians in many countries celebrated “Forgiveness Sunday”, the day before Great Lent begins. Many will have hoped to hear from the Orthodox Church in Russia some acknowledgment of the shocking – not to say blasphemous – absurdity of Orthodox Christians engaging, at this season of all seasons, in indiscriminate killing of the innocent, insanely reckless attacks on nuclear facilities (endangering their own homeland as well as the wider environment), the unashamed breach of ceasefire agreements, and an attack on one of the most significant Holocaust memorials in Europe. It is not too late for the leadership of the Church in Russia to call for (at the very least) a credible ceasefire as Lent begins. Those of us who owe a lasting debt to the thought and witness of Christian Russia through the centuries find it hard to believe that all the moral norms of warfare painstakingly explored by Christians in both East and West from the earliest ages onwards have been forgotten”.

The majority of Christians in Ukraine, as in Russia, belong to the Orthodox church but the ‘church landscape’ has always been a complex one. There is an autocephalous (independent) Ukrainian Orthodox Church and I mentioned its leader, Metropolitan Epiphanius, last week. However, a large number of Ukrainian Orthodox parishes come under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate and have chosen to remain loyal to it despite the illegal annexation of Crimea and the fomenting of war in the Donbas since 2014. This has caused bitterness and division in the Orthodox community. That may now have begun to change. The leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) spoke out hours after the start of the invasion on 24 February. Metropolitan Onufriy Berezovsky urged Putin to stop the ‘fratricidal war’ and described Russia’s aggression as ‘Cain’s crime.

What of the response from the Russian Orthodox community in the UK? Last Sunday I heard an interview on the Sunday programme with Russian Orthodox priest, Fr Stephen Platt, secretary for inter-Christian Orthodox affairs of the Orthodox Church in Great Britain. He conceded that the failure of the Patriarch of Moscow to speak out and condemn the war will have done serious damage to the standing of the Russian Orthodox Church. He also defended his church saying that the Orthodox church worldwide always works and prays for peace and that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow is working quietly behind the scenes in more diplomatic ways.


For consideration.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, is a historic threat to a people of Orthodox Christian tradition. More troubling still for Orthodox believers, the senior hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church has refused to acknowledge this invasion, issuing instead vague statements about the necessity for peace in light of “events” and “hostilities” in Ukraine, while emphasizing the fraternal nature of the Ukrainian and Russian peoples as part of “Holy Rus’,” blaming the hostilities on the evil “West”, and even directing their communities to pray in ways that actively encourage hostility.

The support of many of the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate for President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine is rooted in a form of Orthodox ethno-phyletist religious fundamentalism, totalitarian in character, called Russkii mir orthe Russian world, a false teaching which is attracting many in the Orthodox Church and has even been taken up by the Far Right and Catholic and Protestant fundamentalists. …

Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University

Full text here.


A prayer shared at the midweek Eucharist today – written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer during his imprisonment by the Nazis in 1943, at the encouragement of his guards and fellow prisoners.

God, I call to you early in the morning,
help me pray and collect my thoughts,
I cannot do so alone.
In me it is dark, but with you there is light.
I am lonely, but do not abandon me.
I am faint-hearted, but from you comes my help.
I am restless, but with you is peace.
In me is bitterness, but with you is patience.
I do not understand your ways, but you know [the] right way for me.
Father in heaven,
Praise and thanks be to you for the quiet of the night.
Praise and thanks be to you for the new day.
Praise and thanks be to you for all your goodness and faithfulness in my life thus far.
You have granted me much good,
now let me also accept hardship from your hand.
You will not lay on me more than I can
You make all things serve your children for the best.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you were poor and miserable, imprisoned and abandoned as I am.
You know all human need,
you remain with me when no human being stands by me,
you do not forget me and you seek me,
you want me to recognize you and turn back to you.
Lord, I hear your call and follow.
Help me!
Holy Spirit,
Grant me the faith
that saves me from despair and vice.
Grant me the love for God and others
that purges all hate and bitterness,
grant me the hope
that frees me from fear and despondency.
Teach me to discern Jesus Christ and to do his will.
Triune God,
my Creator and my Savior,
this day belongs to you. My time is in your hands.
Holy, merciful God,
my Creator and my Savior
my Judge and my Redeemer,
you know me and all my ways and actions.
You hate and punish evil in this and every world
without regard for person,
you forgive sins
for anyone who asks you sincerely,
and you love the good and reward it
on this earth with a clear conscience
and in the world to come with the crown of righteousness.
Before you I remember all those I love,
my fellow prisoners, and all
who in this house perform their difficult duty.
Lord, have mercy.
Grant me freedom again
and in the meantime let me live in such a way
that I can give account before [you] and others.
Lord, whatever this day may bring – your name be praised.

Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, pp. 94–96. Source: