null / Lucia Ballester/CNA.

Rome Newsroom, Feb 22, 2023 / 09:35 am (CNA).

Ukrainian Catholics will livestream prayers of the Stations of the Cross on Friday from a bomb shelter in Kyiv on the anniversary of the full-scale Russian invasion of their country.

The online prayer event on the first Friday of Lent at 7 p.m. Kyiv time (12 p.m. EST) will tell the personal stories of victims of war as they relate to Christ’s passion.

For Ukrainians, the year of war, destruction, and loss has been a continuous Way of the Cross for 365 days, according to Father Vyacheslav Grynevych.

“Every day has become a station of the holy cross,” he said.

Grynevych told CNA that he personally gave Pope Francis a copy of the station meditations in a private audience at the Vatican this week and asked him to read them and pray along.

“The Holy Father said, ‘Yes, I will read this. I will pray.’ And for me it felt that we opened our hearts before the pope,” he said.

Grynevych is the executive director of Caritas-Spes, a Catholic charity part of the Caritas Internationalis network that has provided food, shelter, protection, and health and psychological support to 3 million people in Ukraine in the past year.

The Ukrainian staff of Caritas-Spes have written meditations that tell their personal experiences of the war as well as the stories of the people they serve to unite their sufferings to Jesus. The meditations will be read in English. Between stations, volunteers will sing Ukrainian Lenten hymns.

While working to provide humanitarian aid within a war zone, Grynevych said he has personally found strength in prayer by reflecting on how Jesus continued moving forward after falling three times during the Way of the Cross.

“Yes, we are tired. Yes, we have many pains inside of us, but we have to continue because we cannot leave the field of social service and spiritual support. No, we have to continue because it is our mission … to continue to show the face of a merciful God in a time of war,” he said.

Grynevych said that his team decided that Stations of the Cross “will be held in a bomb shelter because many times for us the bomb shelter has been for us a church … a place where we can speak to God.”

“We will have electricity prepared because many times we don’t have electricity [in the shelters],” he added.

Caritas-Spes, operated by Ukraine’s Latin rite Catholic Church, is one of two organizations affiliated with Caritas Internationalis in Ukraine. The other, Caritas Ukraine, is overseen by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, to which the majority of Ukrainian Catholics belong.

The Stations of the Cross will also be streamed live from Kyiv at 8 p.m. (1 p.m. EST/10 a.m. PST) on the Caritas Internationalis YouTube Channel on Feb. 24.

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