Prayer for peace in Ukraine is the Spirit’s unceasing prayer in Christ, glorifying the Father in the hearts of all who are crucified by war in the devastated cities, towns and villages of Ukraine, but also all who died there a century ago during the Russian Civil War, including countless Orthodox defending Ukraine from the red Russian armies of atheistic communism. The Spirit’s unceasing prayer also includes all who died in Ukraine at the hands of Hitler’s invading armies following 1941, and all who were starved and murdered in Ukraine by Stalin’s armies in their counter-attack against Hitler. Snyder spoke of the ‘bloodlands’ of Ukraine because for over a century Ukraine was invaded and counter-invaded again and again, leaving hearts ravaged by war, crying out for peace. From the left and now from the right, Russian aggression invaded and annexed Crimea in Ukraine, convinced Russia was the innocent victim of aggression, obliging prayer for peace to pray in peace into the heart of many bleeding wounds, many blatant lies, many gaping hells. Putin’s recent invasion on February 24th 2022 owed much not only to Stalin but also to Ivan Ilyin’s Russian fascism, the white Russian counter-revolution that gave Hitler the Protocols, but fundamentally the invasion was due to Putin’s totalitarian, kleptocratic aggression, concealing underlying criminal motives under the ideology of nationalism. Kleptocratic crimes are concealed with the explicit ideological consent of the Patriarch of Moscow, despite the fact that suffering Ukrainians include millions of Orthodox faithful living under his jurisdiction. Praying for peace fearlessly contests Putin’s war at every level and in every way, wrestling with Satanic powers in many horrendous hells, resisting the lies that conceal kleptocratic crimes on a staggering scale.
Prayer for peace is one in Christ with Saint Paisios Velickovsky from Poltava in Ukraine, who studied theology in Kyev, renewed Orthodox Hesychasm in his native Cossack lands, and translated the Philokalia into Slavonic. Prayer for peace in Ukraine is also one with the Besht, the Baal Shem Tov, who renewed ancient Kabbalah within mystical Jewish Hassidism in Mezibush in west Ukraine. Both saints practiced the invocation of the Holy Name of God, praying in peace for peace. Prayer in the Spirit descends with Christ into the agony of repeated wars, uncovering infernal depths, dragging the heights of heaven down to lowest hell. Saint Silouan the Hesychast condemned the pride of aggressive war to hell without despair, showing Saint Sophrony how prayer for peace liberates hearts, opening excruciating suffering to radical freedom. Both Russian saints were one with Saint Seraphim of Sarov, whose acquisition of the Holy Spirit revealed the uncreated light of ineffable peace to Russian Hesychasm. Today, in Russia, it is illegal to call Putin’s war a war but Russian Hesychasts nonetheless declare war on war by praying for peace to end war in the hallowed Name, directly contesting Ilyin’s heresy of Russian innocence. Orthodox Jews and Christians hallow the Name of God as they pray for peace, contesting totalitarian war disguised as phoney peace.
Prayer for peace is clearly nominal when it reduces the peace of God, Pax Deum, to a distorted, subverted version of the Pax Romanum, such as a Putin’s parody of peace, which many Russians call ‘Russki Mir,’ ‘Russian peace.’ This parody of peace invaded Ukraine to impose an imperial Eurasian peace with ruthless cruelty and military violence. War in heaven becomes war on earth when satanic deception spews endless lies to conceal its insatiable greed and lust for power. But love’s Cross of glory defeats satanic powers on earth as it overcomes them in heaven, inspiring prayer for peace that nourishes costly peace on earth. The Cross of costly love accepts death to overcome death, rising into resurrection and ascension, engendering peace through glorification. Pax Deum reigns in God’s Kingdom of peace in heaven, unseating every perverted version of worldly peace, whether it be parodied Pax Romanum, or ‘Russki Mir.’ The Book of Revelation renews prophecy in Christ that completes all ancient prophecy, inspiring prayer in the Spirit that unceasingly prays for peace. Constantine’s frozen peace gives way to the prophecy of prayer when prayer for peace enthrones and crowns countless martyred saints in heaven. Prayer for peace completes anguished prophecy beyond every proud peace that usurps Pax Deum, subverting the holy peace of God. Prayer for peace springs from God’s hallowing peace in the hearts of angels and saints, transcending denial, anger and fear. Costly love accepts what fear denies and anger contests, overcoming warring pride, curing war with peace, inspiring ineffable joy.