Friars and people shelter in a friary basement.

The Sweet Song of Hope

In these past days, during Holy Week, the Minister General of the Franciscan Order, Massimo Fusarelli OFM, journeyed from Rome to Ukraine. There he joined other religious leaders gathered in Chernivsti to offer solidarity and friendship to those affected by the terrible war in that country.

Afterwards Massimo visited some of our friaries in Ukraine. We have 16 house there. The ones he was able to reach depended on the war situation on the ground.

He wanted to express his loving support to the friars who remain in places of war, close to the people, consoling and sustaining hope. He also encouraged those friars who welcome so many fleeing from the conflict, providing what spiritual and material care they can.

Witnessing the great sorrow and awful destruction at first hand, Massimo writes: “The struggle between the energy for Resurrection and the forces that want to destroy it is always powerful. And we cannot remain neutral in this kind of struggle.”

And he reminds us: “At Easter we renew our baptismal promises, our consecration to the Risen Lord, which marked the fundamental choice of our lives. And in faith we believe and know that the cosmos and history belong to the Resurrected Christ.”

This is not some easy optimism but Easter Hope. “Love is the victor. Hate and evil will not triumph. Death is not the end. The end is life. His life and our lives through him, with him and in him.”

In these times, we probably all need a new infilling of Easter Hope.

The poet Emily Dickinson speaks of the robust strength of such a hope.

Hope is a thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings a tune without words
And never stops at all.

And sweetest, in the gale, is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That keeps so many warm.

In the light of the Resurrection we know that our existence has greater depths of beauty, mystery and blessing than the wildest visionary has ever dared to dream.

Christ our Lord has risen! The beating heart of divine love enkindles in us the will to live fully. Not merely survive, but to be victorious over all brutal powers, of whatever sort, that aim to diminish and destroy.

May the sweet song of Easter Hope always vibrate in our souls.

Friaries are places of refuge for women and children.

Read the Minister General’s full Easter Message

The friars try to source and deliver food to the people.