Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
So many people are speaking with me of late with a combination of fearful-confusion and a type of fatigue of heart and soul that my heart was moved in prayer today to write this letter.
With the various wars in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iraq, all of the terrorism, the horrors in Sudan and elsewhere in Africa, seeming countless reports of severe weather, earthquakes etc., many are understandably stressed.
Add to that those who [ rather presumptively in my opinion ] opine on news channels about the end of the world and that "Israel is God's land and He will protect them." - we can be left wondering what kind of a God is it who only looks after certain people!
A dear friend, a New York firefighter was at Ground Zero on 9/11 and he phoned me from there on 9/12 while taking a break amidst the chaos. When I asked him if there was anything I could do he instantly said: "Pray for the conversion of my country." [A year later we were both at Ground Zero and prayed there together.]
The evening of 9/11 itself I was visiting my spiritual director.
As my Spiritual Father and I were about to concelebrate Holy Mass I asked for a moment to look into the eyes of Christ, there before us in the Pantocrator Icon, to beg Jesus to forgive the anger in my heart towards those who had perpetrated that murderous horror.
Suddenly I heard my Spiritual Father likewise begging mercy.
We then proceeded to celebrate the Mass for times of War and Civil Disturbance.
The opening prayer of the Mass is one of two options. I don't remember which one we prayed so offer both here:
1] God of power and mercy, You destroy war and put down earthly pride.
Banish violence from our midst and wipe away our tears that we may all deserve to be called Your sons and daughters. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
2] God our Father, maker and lover of peace, to know You is to live, and to serve You is to reign. All our faith is in Your saving help; protect us from men of violence and keep us safe from weapons of hate. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
From the above prayers, worthy of frequent utterance and meditation, what I find very powerful is: " keep us safe from weapons of hate."
Hatred begins within poisoned thinking, emotional disorder, and seeps like acid into the heart from whence it darkens the will into the active choice of aggressive sinful acts towards another human being thus becoming real 'earthly pride', which is that arrogance which seeks to usurp what is God's
alone: creating and lovingly giving the gift of life.
We can never usurp what is God's alone by positive action for we are incapable of creating an immortal soul, hence we can never GIVE life - we can only attempt to usurp what is God's alone by the negative, that is, by murder, seeking to destroy a living human being.
However we cannot be self-satisfied, just because we have not ever personally aborted a baby, blown up a plane, bombed a market, that we are innocent of the blood of our brothers and sisters: IF we have remained silent in the face of ANY assault on a human person from the womb to the tomb; by any means including abortion, euthanasia, assault on holy marriage, the family, hatred of immigrants, etc. etc. ;or being naïve about the prime duty of the state, which is the protection of the citizens of the nation, by outrageous statements and attitudes towards those men and women who lay down their lives to protect us from terrorists or criminals in our midst.
Most especially we are NOT innocent bystanders if we fail to love one another, truly, to love our enemies, do good to those who persecute us in anyway, fail to pray and fast for the conversion of our respective nations, for the whole world, for peace.
When people, as someone just did a few moments ago, tell me they believe the world is coming to an end, or when, as yesterday, a Jewish friend states thus and so about 'them' and an Arab Muslim friend stated thus and so about 'them', become irritated with me because I refuse to take sides but plead we must love one another, and people often walk away apparently dismayed I just don't "get it!" - I am peaceful I have at least, by holding onto the hand of our Blessed Mother and being strengthened by her, witnessed to Christ's command we love one another as He loves us.
Yes these are dangerous days, yes it seems all creation is in some kind of groaning disturbance, yes terrorism is real and must be defeated, BUT so long as we who claim to be disciples of Christ murder the unborn, seek to dismantle holy marriage, assault the reality of family life, carry any form of hatred in our hearts, how dare we be so arrogant as to believe lifting up hands dripping with the blood of the unborn, the elderly, or clutching some misguided ballot in favour of those who oppose holy marriage and family will appease the heart of our Heavenly Father?
FIRST and foremost, it is the 'weapons of hatred' in my own heart which must be expunged if my prayer is to be heard: the weapons of compromise, hesitancy, self-centeredness, pride, greed, discrimination, hatred, anger, even the most tiny flicker of 'get them!' - it is Christ's admonishment to leave my gift at the altar and FIRST go and be reconciled with my brother.
So, pray I be converted and together let us pray everyone and all things be restored to Christ before we all drown in the blood and tears which are soaking the earth.