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Our world currently faces major decisions regarding our response to the people of Ukraine. Every day we learn of the atrocities of war that are inflicted on them: the vast migration of women and children fleeing the country; those who cannot get out living in subways; the potential of further loss of life due to bombing and starvation. The situation cries to heaven. Clearly, this aggression is the work of the Evil One, who urges patterns of behavior that promise much, but only lead to a barren waste.

How do we balance being informed, but not overwhelmed? How much news and information do we need? Does it create a numbness that leaves us stuck in doing nothing? First, I would suggest monitoring the amount of news we take in each day. Some amount of news will move us to creative action, prayer, connection. Too much, and we just wear out, we feel numb, unable to respond with compassion, creativity and courage.

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Another practice of reviewing my life’s normal balances is helpful: “How am I at healthy diet and exercise? How am I praying? How are my fraternal connections? What do I do for fun?” These are covered in the friars’ “Personal Life Plan.”

But there are other tactics. Pope Francis and our Minister General have invited the Catholic community, and especially the friars, to consider using the “weapons,” or better word, “strategies” of the Spirit, which we know. They are fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Our Minister General has asked the friars to consider an extra day of fasting during the week, or of generous prayer, or giving of ourselves in small actions of love. I’m trying some simple ways of fasting from food, drink and things going my way, adding extra time for prayer, watching for opportunities to practice kindness. If you hear the voice of the Spirit nudging you this way, I hope you’ll follow it. These are not meant to try to twist God’s arm: “If I fast enough, if I give up M&M’s, God will prevent this war or grant this petition.” God doesn’t act that way.

We already have God’s abundant love as sons and daughters. It allows us to connect our hunger with those who are suffering, to surrender our tendencies to retaliate, or make enemies of the Russians, or gain happiness through power, possessions or prestige. With these three strategies, we give God some fresh space to deepen our baptismal call this Lent.

(Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM, is the Provincial Minister of the Province of St. John the Baptist.)