In times of war, observing the spiritual side of fasting becomes even more important. Although war changes the way people fast, it cannot change the essence of self-restraint for spiritual development, spiritual resilience, and freedom. This article explores how the Ukrainian people have been coping with the challenge of fasting during the ongoing war with Russia. It discusses how the people are embracing self-restraint and sacrifice, and using their spiritual beliefs as a source of strength and hope. The article also emphasizes how prayer and acts of mercy can contribute to the fight against the evil forces of war.

Maintaining Faith and Staying Strong

From ancient times, it has been established for our benefit to dedicate a tithe each year, during the Great Lent and the Holy Forty Days (approximately 36 days, not counting Sundays), to God for the salvation of our souls. We are now in the third week of Great Lent, and I would like to draw attention to the peculiarities of this fast in times of war.

The spiritual component is the determining factor in any fasting. War, in the fiery vortex of which we are forced to live, radically changes the form of fasting for many, but cannot change its essence – self-restraint for spiritual improvement, spiritual resilience, and freedom.

The entire Ukrainian nation has been under special restraints and limitations for over a year now. Don’t our soldiers limit themselves when they stand sacrificially on the front line of the struggle against the enemy? Don’t doctors, volunteers, and those who help displaced persons limit themselves? Don’t Ukrainian children, parents, and elderly people limit themselves? The entire Ukrainian people now bear their fast of sacrifice and their heavy cross.

The fight against Russian aggression has two dimensions: physical resistance and spiritual resistance. Our heartfelt, sincere prayers, our obedience to the Lord’s commandments, our care for our neighbors, and our acts of mercy are this resistance. Not everyone can and is capable of defending Ukraine from the enemy with weapons in hand. But each of us, as Christians, can and must defend it from the devilish Russian hatred through prayer and godly deeds.

Fasting and prayer, as the Savior indicated, help in the struggle with the expulsion of the evil spirit: “This kind cannot come out, except by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). Therefore, our prayer at this time, prayer for the Ukrainian army, for the state, for those who suffer from war, as well as a request for God’s protection, victory, and a just peace, is the contribution of every believing person to the approach of victory.

On this Sunday of Holy Pentecost, which marks the middle of the holy forty-day period, we honor the Honorable and Life-Giving Cross of the Lord in a special way by paying homage to it. Hence the name of this Sunday – Cross Veneration. The Cross of the Lord is a symbol of sacrifice, but at the same time, it is also a symbol of great victory over evil and darkness. These meanings resonate particularly strongly in our hearts during times of war, for they are times of pain and suffering due to great sacrifices and losses, as well as the strongest desire for victory and peace.

Currently, all of us Ukrainians carry our heavy cross, the cross of Ukraine, and we carry it to the Golgotha of suffering to overcome evil and achieve a great Victory. May the bright day of victory come closer according to God’s will!