I often remind myself that if I am going to pray for something I also need to align my life and actions with that prayer. It’s a way of giving existence to the insistence of my prayer.
I hope you will join my in praying for Ukraine, and then act.
A friend of mine, Fr. Volodymyr Steliac, is the priest at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Silver Springs Maryland. He and I were classmates in our doctoral program. My wife and I spent a fun weekend with him and his family, and attended their Ukrainian festival.
St. Andrew’s is accepting donations and supplies to help care for the people of Ukraine. I hope you will consider supporting their work with:
- A donation through the church’s website; or
- An Amazon purchase from their wish list that will be shipped to the church.
You can learn more about the church and this work on their Facebook page.
The Softener of Evil Hearts
The icon in the above image is called “The Softener of Evil Hearts.” It is one of the few icons of the Theotokos that does not depict the infant Jesus.
It shows seven swords piercing Mary’s heart, three on the left, three on the right, and one from below. They represent the seven sorrows of Mary and Simeon’s words to Mary, “And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:35).
Her seven sorrows are:
1. The prophecy of Simeon;
2. The flight into Egypt;
3. Loss of the Child Jesus for three days;
4. Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary;
5. Crucifixion and Death of Jesus;
6. The body of Jesus taken from the Cross; and
7. The burial of Jesus.
Soften our evil hearts, O Mother of God,
And quench the attacks of those who hate us
And loose all straitness of our soul.
For looking on thy holy icon
We are filled with compunction by thy suffering and loving-kindness for us
And we kiss thy wounds;
We are filled with horror for the darts with which we wound thee.
Let us not, O Mother of Compassion,
According to the cruelty of our hearts,
perish from the cruelty of heart of those near us,
For thou art in truth the Softener of Evil Hearts.
(The above prayer taken from the Akathist to the Mother of God, Softener of Evil Hearts)