By sheer coincidence, a thoughtful friend just sent me a collection of music and songs entitled “Wartime Memories” and kindly remarked that my late father and recently-deceased mother were part of this “greatest generation” and that during that time my father was the Navy served World War I in the Terror of the Pacific.
Sure enough, when I listen to them I can recall with crystal clear clarity being a kid and hearing my dad and mom sing along when I heard those memorable tunes.
What surprised me is how all these songs were filled with hope and confidence despite being written and recorded in the anguish, threats, breakups, loss, scarcity, wounds and death of those war years!
Poets, philosophers, and artists have long recognized the resilience of the human spirit as deep in our makeup, pointing to an innate trust in the Lord to see us through unfailingly.
We desperately need that now, especially given the divisions and concerns here at home and the tensions around the world.
Ukraine stands out. In the face of a vicious attack, the people of Ukraine are one and come together to resist, defend and remain hopeful.
Unfortunately, you have a lot of practice. In the reign of terror during Stalin’s oppression, Jews and Christians in Ukraine were brutally persecuted. The Ukrainian Catholic Church, for example, saw 90% of its faithful clergymen and nuns shot or exiled to Siberia, while synagogues and churches were confiscated or burned, and people who remained true to their faith were starved and wiped out.
But when freedom came in 1990, these courageous Jews and Christians rebuilt, revived, and restored so that Ukraine became a classroom of democracy, religious freedom, education, and the promotion of justice based on biblical teaching, a “light for… the world”. ” A few years ago I had the honor of attending the dedication of the new Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Kyiv, which they aptly named “Cathedral of the Resurrection”, reflecting their deep and abiding belief in the power of faith.
Is it any wonder that Ukrainian leaders like Jewish President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ukrainian Catholic Patriarch Svyatoslav Shevchuk, both with targets on their chests, are rallying a people united in faith, values, family and a vibrant culture is? No wonder the world has come together to intercede, pray for and help a besieged Ukraine.
Closer to home, we see the same confidence and faith in the future as our great city and nation slowly but surely continues its recovery from the Covid pandemic. It’s there when neighborhoods and communities in Louisiana, Texas and Alabama recover and rebuild after tornadoes and other severe storms. And sadly, far too often we’ve witnessed such confidence in the future as communities unite after yet another senseless shootout.
This resilience and hope happens to be the message of these holy days observed by Jews, Christians and Islam.
Our Jewish neighbors gather for Passover to commemorate the Lord’s deliverance of His people from slavery and oppression in Egypt and then deliverance to Israel.
During this Holy Week we Christians worship the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, when the Lord “passes” from brutal, unjust suffering and death to resurrection and new life at Easter.
Our Islamic community celebrates Ramadan with fasting and prayer, remembering Allah’s faithfulness and mercy.
These three religious celebrations take place on the natural stage of spring, with the darkness and desolation of winter giving way to the promise, light and life of spring. Hope conquers fear! Light drives out darkness! Life will always triumph over death!
It seems as if the resilience and renewal of those 1940-45 war tunes I heard while writing this column are not just memories, they are eternal!
https://nypost.com/2022/04/16/cardinal-dolans-easter-message-praises-ukraines-hope/ Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s Easter message praises Ukraine’s hope