Saving yourself from the damage of war

I am going to stay on this soapbox a bit longer because I am worried.  Many people who are dear to me are following the news from Ukraine very closely, searching out every twitter feed, youtube release, live video feed, local (i.e. Ukrainian) blogger, and MSM commentary that will keep them update on what is going on in their ancestral homeland.  

Been there, done that (or something close enough to make no never mind); and I have experienced first hand the damage this obsession does to the mind and spirit.  

Allow me to speak to my beloved directly: You have seen graphic images of your heroes and innocents brutalized and murdered, with their many wounds witnessing to the suffering being meted out by villains, thugs, and invaders.  By this point, you have read hundreds of accounts of active conspiracies and policies designed to mete out more such carnage.  A place that is viscerally sacred to you has been violated; ideas that you consider holy have been profaned.  These horrible images, concepts, and data have violated you.  You have become the walking wounded, real casualties of war.

As a priest who has been through this and (mostly) recovered, I say; repent!  Guard your heart!  Embrace the disciplines of Lent – you need them now more than you ever have.  They are your lifeline, the thing that will keep you from living in a hell (while heaven itself awaits only your attention; Revelation 3:20).  

Part of this involves the daily repetition of St. Ephraim’s prayer (w/prostrations).  Ask the Lord and Master of your life to take from you the Spirit of



  • Laziness… in this case, spending an inordinate amount of time obsessing about something whose outcome you can hardly affect while ignoring serious problems around you that you are actually responsible for treating;
  • Despair… one of the greatest sins of the information war, resulting from the sense of helplessness of watching suffering without having an obvious way to ameliorate it; 
  •  Lust for power… believing that, given the chance, we could manage the salvation of the ones we love better than God Himself.  
  • Idle talk… there is some justification in using social media for “spreading the word” about what was an unknown crisis or, better yet, providing a corrective spin to the coverage that is out there, but most of what goes on is a very wicked form of gossip and a siren song for the passions.

Ask the Lord to give you the Spirit of

  • Chastity… the purity of your mind (gut, intellect, and heart) has been violated.  Get it back.  The porn addict must find away to keep the temptation away.  So do you.  Limit your exposure to news and social media (I use an app on my MacBook called Antisocial) if you must.  Don’t go near people who will violate your purity and peace.  Practice Christian meditation (a hesychasm for laity and white clergy) to bring quiet to your mind.
  • Humility… give the situation in Ukraine over to the Lord.  Offer up her people to him.  He loves them more than you – they are his children.  And then let go.  It isn’t your problem to solve.  If you think it is, then start by letting go for Lent.  Somehow, God’s plan of salvation will go on without your micromanagement.  If you care about policy more than the peace and sanctity of your heart, then give that up as well.
  • Patience… wash yourself in the peace that flows from its pure fountain.  Again, Christian meditation and the disciplines of Lent will help with this.  So will responses to stress like deep breaths and the recitation of memorized psalmody (e.g. the Jesus Prayer, Psalm 22/23)
  • Charity/Love… when you are following events and you feel the darkness coming, find a way to love your enemy.  One of our greatest temptations is to demonize him.  This is wickedness that we chose freely and will destroy us.  Walk in his shoes.  See the world as he really sees it (not as your worldview thinks he does) and understand the constraints that affect his tactics.  And then love him and desire his salvation and perfection as God does.  If you value policy more than peace, you will find this impossible.

Ask the Lord to give you vision of your own sins (the log in your own eye) rather than the sins of others.  You have enough to work on within your own skin to worry about micromanaging another man’s salvation.

You can ignore this advice.  I have been told that there is no way I can understand because I am not Ukrainian.  It is true that being Ukrainian leads many of you to feel this more strongly than I do.  But God did not create an exemption for Ukrainians  (or anyone else) when it came to living a perfect life.  You feel events in Ukraine to your core, so your temptations are greater; but this means you need more of the medicine, not less of it.  As I wrote in the last article, it is the soldier on the front line whose temptations are the greatest, and technology can bring the spiritual warfare of the front lines straight to you in your home or office.  War doesn’t just destroy bodies, it kills men’s souls.  You are not immune – if you are participating in war, then you are suffering its effects. Christ alone has overcome temptation, and it is only through Him that we – and the heroes and victims in Ukraine – can survive.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

Our Lord has seen His children suffer in greater detail than you can even imagine.  Omniscience is greater than the sum of the knowledge of the internet and NSA.  We cannot know as much as Him about how this world chews up good people, nor can we love them more than Him.  He saw mankind’s pain and His response was to love us enough to give us The Way (St. John 3:16; 14:6) to heal ourselves and to become a balm to others.  This is the Good News!  And it has nothing with better policies or regimes… it has everything with each of us uniting Himself to Christ and then bringing His peace and healing love to the world.  So let’s put a filter between us and the war in Ukraine and bring peace to our souls.  Only then will we have the rational objectivity and power (through Christ!) to heal the world’s pain.