Christ is in our midst!!
I had to take the time to comment about your OCA priest friend's remark about Lent and the news. I do this with all due respect to his priesthood and to his right to his opinion. My humble opinion follows:
Lent is about learning to say "no" to one's self, temptations, and other large and small things. But as St. Seraphim of Sarov notes, " the aim of the Christian life is not prayers, vigils, fasts (and other spiritual exercises)." The aim of the Christian life is "the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God." These exercises are simply the means to arriving at that end.
That being said, the discipline of Lent is also learning to stop being passive. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Fire, a Spirit of Courage, a Spirit of counter Culture. The discipline of Lent is one that calls us to reform ourselves, yes, but also to become a voice for the powerless, the oppressed, the prisoners, those enslaved, those unjustly deprived of their God-given dignity. It's a time to come out of our complacency and comfort, becoming strong witnesses to objective truth which is Christ; witnesses to objective right and wrong.
To make Lent all about oneself and building up one's own spiritual life and ignoring what goes on in the world around us is to make our "salt" flat and worthless--"to be trodden underfoot." It is to make the exercises of Lent into ends rather than means.
We are called to be the presence of Christ wherever we go because of our Baptism. We are His Eyes to seek out, His Ears to listen, His Voice to encourage, to pray and to advocate, His Hands to work; His Arms to embrace, and His Legs to carry us wherever He needs His Presence to be. (BTW, this is the advice I gave to a young cousin whom I am mentoring. He belongs to a liberal Lutheran congregation that has caused him to question his Christian commitment. I told him that the clergy are not the only witnesses to the Faith; we are all called to be. Thus, he needs to witness to the truth he has been taught, even when his pastor seems to be off the mark.) We get into places where clergy never can or will. That's why so many people have asked me to perform their loved ones' funeral services and I was allowed to preach at Communion Services in the absence of my pastor years ago. People say "it's about the way you live your life." I humbly offer this, aware of the great responsibility this puts on my shoulders.
We are called this Lent to push back against the Russian Orthodox Church and her supporting/defending the carnage in Ukraine. That is part of what we are called to do--positive fasting, fasting from being afraid and fasting from failing to speak out against monstrous actions done with the blessing of morally corrupt clergy. These people, Catholic and Orthodox together, are our brothers and sisters in the Faith. If we do not speak for them, who will?