(Read at Agape’s Good Friday Stations of the Cross in front of Boston’s Statehouse
by Pat Ferrone
We live in a ‘falling-down’ time; a ‘falling-apart’ time. With the current war in Ukraine, our eyes latch onto horrific, technicolor televised images of awkwardly sprawled bodies on pavement, lying alongside now useless suitcases or mangled bicycles; a pink nail-polished hand emerges from a coat sleeve, fingers slightly, almost delicately, curled; a child’s ragged teddy bear sits alone on a sidewalk, making one look about for its toddler buddy. They all fell and are permanently lost to their families, dead to our world – some mutilated beyond recognition, ready for body bags and mass graves.
“Horror” doesn’t begin to describe these daily “failing down” crucifixions of essentially innocent human beings, under siege by bullets and bombs and missiles. Who is guilty of anything more than wishing for a return to the dip and rise of normal life – living and loving as best one can? I pray that the grief and rage I feel toward the blood-thirsty, power driven machinations of military minds and their lethal actions can be put to good use, and lead to meaningful initiatives guided by a Holy Spirit. I pray that our deep hope in something resembling the peace of Jesus, becomes possible, despite a Church history that has neglected Jesus’ way of nonviolence.
In the meantime, my heart reaches out to the women and the children of both Russia and Ukraine and the nearly grown young men who are weaponized, schooled in patriotic righteousness, and primed by hate and fear to annihilate one another – their common Slavic origins, forgotten.
My own ethnic roots originate in the lush breadbasket of Ukraine. I have walked the streets of Kyiv, been brought close to heaven when subsumed into the beauty and power of the soaring music of Divine Liturgy. I have driven the rural roads into the countryside of modest homes, spent time in an orphanage for disabled children, and visited the village created for Chernobyl survivors. I’ve seen the patience of the “babushkas” near this village, sitting alongside the road, selling their foraged mushrooms.
Because of these memories, and my father’s Russian Orthodox heritage and my mother’s Polish Catholic faith, I pray for reconciliation among Christian faiths and the acceptance of the nonviolent gospel of peace. In a recent prayer created by Pope Francis, he begs forgiveness “for the hands which You created to tend,” (that) “have been transformed into instruments of death” and, and in the spirit of Oscar Romero says, “Stop us, O Lord, stop us, from killing one another.”
And if we must fall down, as Jesus did, let us fall down on our knees, in repentance and prayer for the wars of destruction we bring upon our brothers and sisters, our kin.
Pat Ferrone has been a companion to Agape’s co-founders, every step of the way, leading to the formation of Agape and before. She is the regional coordinator of Pax Christi Regional and a key member of St. Susanna’s Parish in Dedham, MA.