The lives left incomplete, the bonds severed, and the void left behind highlights the profound loss experienced by those who have lost loved ones in the conflict. The dead need to be buried, and the living need closure. They need a chance to bid farewell, to pray for the souls of their loved ones, and to stand at their grave as in death their bodies are returned to the earth which they so valiantly defended in life. Even in the midst of conflict, humanity’s compassion and respect for life endures.
While the world rushed to aid Ukraine especially at the start of the war, sending food, funds, and supplies to sustain the lives of those who suffer, there is also a great and unspoken need to deliver the dead to their final resting place. If refrigerated transport is not available, the heat of the summer precludes transporting the bodies of the dead as they become a biological hazard and endanger those whom they wished to protect while alive.
The bodies of deceased individuals need to be preserved in appropriate conditions to prevent decomposition during transportation. Refrigerated vehicles maintain low temperatures, slowing down the natural process of decay and decomposition. Families of the deceased soldiers are already dealing with significant emotional distress. Ensuring that the bodies are properly preserved and handled during transportation can help minimize additional emotional trauma.
As we rejoice at the birth of a child and celebrate new life, we must also with love and honor see that life off onto its final journey. The Church cares for each soul from the moment it enters this world until the Final Judgement. Even though the hearts no longer beat, they had once been the temple of God and as such we must ensure that the bodies are treated with the utmost care and reverence as they journey to their final resting place.
To that end the UOC of the USA has sponsored refrigerated vehicles to transport the bodies of these fallen heroes back to their families and loved ones for a final goodbye, for prayers, and for burial. With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the Diaspora, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA, and Consistory President, has thanks to the generous donations of the faithful of the Church procured three such refrigerated vehicles. Working through Protopresbyter Kostyantyn Kuznyetzov of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the UOC of the USA these vehicles will be put to immediate use in transporting the remains of the warriors killed on the frontlines back to their hometowns, to their loves ones, to the their final resting place.
While not a glamorous purchase, it is one of the utmost importance. Not only does it show the respect due to those who gave their lives for their neighbors, but, it also grants comfort and closure to the families who are grieving their greatest loss. These vehicles are one final gift to the departed, making it possible for the bodies to be buried following the teachings and traditions of the Church, instead of buried in the field where they were killed, in an unmarked grave. The Church ministers to the souls of the faithful from birth onto death. Having enacted the Sacraments of baptism and chrismation, heard their confessions, counseled, and strengthened their resolve, administered the Eucharist, and now offering them their final prayers for the forgiveness of any sins and for life everlasting in the Kingdom of Heaven.
O Lord our God, Who by Your unutterable wisdom have fashioned man out of the dust and transformed him into comeliness and beauty; and have adorned him, as a precious and heavenly creature, for praise and magnificence of Your glory and Kingdom, in that You brought him into existence as a being fashioned according to Your image and likeness; … O Lord our God, Who to Your holy Disciples and Apostles gave this authority for granting remission of sins, and did say that whatsoever things they would bind and loose, those things would be bound and would be loosed; and Who through them in Your man befriending love has caused to be transmitted to us also, unworthy though we be, the same gift in equal measure; loose these Your servants, now fallen asleep from sin of soul and body, and make them to be now forgiven in this present world and in the world to come; through the intercessions of Your all-pure and Ever Virgin Mother, and of all the Saints. Amen.
You too can be a vehicle of salvation for those who suffer in Ukraine, for both those living, and those who have perished, by contributing the Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief Fund of the UOC of the USA.