- The invasion of Ukraine is now a reality.
- Pope Francis has asked that Ash Wednesday be a day of prayer and fasting for peace.
- St. Vincent DePaul knew war and its effects.
Vincent on War and Peace
First, the following quotes come from a well-documented article, Vincent and Peace.
Vincent was painfully aware of the dire situations he faced.
- “The poor who have survived this destruction are reduced to gleaning a few half-rotted grains of sprouted wheat or barley in the fields. They make bread from this, which is like mud and so unwholesome that almost all of them become sick from it.”
- “Vincent feared nothing and no one and showed himself to be a tireless artisan of peace.”
- “Vincent’s desires for peace did not lead him to take a position of blind pacifism. We see this especially in regard to his view of Islam.”
- “There are Christians in every area of the world and disciples of Saint Vincent on both sides of every form of barrier and on both sides of every wall and curtain.”
- “Like Saint Vincent, we, his disciples, ought to be concerned about defending the poor who long for peace in a more urgent way than those who are not poor because they, persons who are poor, are the first victims in all of these conflicts.”
- “The organization of relief for the victims of war is another significant example of Saint Vincent’s charity. We find in these relief efforts the great characteristics of his holiness and his genius.”
- “He knew how to sensitize people to these realities and also knew how to appeal to their generosity.”
Vincent himself wrote.
- “We spent up to 22,000 livres on seed in one year, keeping them busy in the summer and feeding them in the winter. See, Ladies, the good works you have done!”
- “We felt it our duty to provide these people with the means of doing so by giving them axes, billhooks, and spinning wheels to put the men and women to work. In this way, they will no longer be dependent on anyone, if some other disaster occurs which could reduce them to the same wretched state. We have also distributed the seeds sent from Paris for this region.”
Pope Francis’ Appeal in his own words
My heart aches greatly at the worsening situation in Ukraine. Despite the diplomatic efforts of the last few weeks, increasingly alarming scenarios are opening up. Like me, many people all over the world are feeling anguish and concern.
Once again the peace of all is threatened by partisan interests. I would like to appeal to those with political responsibility to examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war; who is the Father of all, not just of some, who wants us to be brothers and not enemies.
I pray that all the parties involved refrain from any action that would cause even more suffering to the people, destabilising coexistence between nations and bringing international law into disrepute.
And now I would like to appeal to everyone, believers and non-believers alike. Jesus taught us that the diabolical senselessness of violence is answered with God’s weapons, with prayer and fasting.
I invite everyone to make next 2 March, Ash Wednesday, a Day of Fasting for Peace. I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war.
Statements from Vincentian groups around the world
What can and will you do?