Beloved, by this time the news has spread that an elderly priest in France was killed while serving mass. Schools, hospitals, social venues, and now Churches are targeted. Countless are the victims in this ghastly struggle.
Behind these attacks is a so-called apocalyptical group seeking to force God’s hand to bring about that which was spoken of by the Evangelist and Theologian, Saint John. The members of this cult do not believe these words. They seek to write a different tale with a much different ending. They write their story in the blood of innocents, even of their own kind. There story will have an ending vastly different than one they could ever imagine.
We read in today’s news:
The barbaric slaughter of Father Jacques Hamel in France should outrage the world.
Everyone from the delegates and speakers at the Democratic National Convention to the United Nations should speak out.
An elderly priest having his throat slit during daily Mass by gutless terrorists claiming to be soldiers of ISIS should enrage everyone. We cannot become numb to the terror attacks. If that happens, evil wins.
Yesterday’s murder in a church in Normandy is so painful it had me praying at church for an answer. It’s a new chapter in terror I never imagined could be written. We’re not safe in a church? It doesn’t get any worse.” Source
Students of history will remember, sadly, that this is nothing new. Under the Communist and Turkish Yokes, whole Churches were destroyed, Monasteries burned, clergy shot and hung. Countless are the Martyrs from these dark times in man’s history. How did the Church respond to this “slaughter” – she rejoiced and glorified the newly-crowned Martyrs of Christ. How does the Church respond?
The ancient dragon fell writhing to perdition * when ye pierced him through with the sharp saber of the truth; * he that made darkness his dwelling-place * fled from your brilliance. * For in a land that he thought was his alone, * how he raged to see the Cross and truth of Christ revered! * And in his frenzy, he roared at you * to bow to idols; * but then he learned your great faith and love for God, * and when he slew you, he himself was slain * by your valiant confession and martyrdom * and your greatness of spirit * and forgiveness of your murderers. Stichera from Vespers for the Holy New Martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion
In this age of darkness and growing apostasy, the devil has become even more bold and seeks to disarm us by weakening our defenses. Now is the time to strengthen our battlements and array ourselves with the whole armour of God (cf Ephesians 6:13). And thus we arm ourselves so that we may be able to withstand the days of evil and despair. As scripture further attests, our adversary seeks to devour us:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 1 Peter 5:10
Whether it is the evil-one, his minions, or those who have surrendered to his will that seek to oppress us or even kill us, we will not fear for we have a great ally in our mighty God. He has taught us to resist through steadfastness in faith. Our Lord warned us of tribulation so that when it occurs, we will recognize the truth of His prophecy, and so knowing be comforted that He is the Master of all things.
The evil of this world is not conquered by force. Evil lurks deep in every shadow and it is only the light of Christ that will cast away this darkness. The so-called martyrs and soldiers of ISIS will be utterly shamed by the new-Martyrs of Christ. Countless are the testimonies of the Christian Martyrs, who ran with rejoicing to the place of their contest. Great was their valor, beyond measure their love for God and their fellow man. These new-martyrs of this evil cause claim their god will ask their victims to forgive their assailants – the Martyrs of Christ had great boldness before the Lord and prayed for forgiveness of their executioners.
Great is the difference between the soldiers of darkness, who kill under the mask of anonymity and in fear.; and the Martyrs of Christ, who contested openly.
Beloved, evil prevails for a time but quickly runs its course. Internal dissension will grip their members and the beast will be devoured by its voracious appetite through mistrust, lies, and fear.
We do not fight this evil with violence but rely on the strength granted to us through our faith in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. When Christ is with us, who shall overcome us? The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom then shall I fear (cf PS 21:7)?
Let us cry out together with Saints and the Righteous:
Shout with jubilation unto the Lord, all the earth; sing unto Him that in every nation hath revealed His righteousness. Rejoice o land of Egypt, Syria, Iraq and all places that are oppressed, for thou hast seen His salvation. Thine earth hath been watered with the blood of Martyrs; thy gloom hath been dispersed by the truth of Christ. Thy children now stand in the courts of the Lord, and they intercede with the Almighty God to have mercy on the world that He hath fashioned. Doxastikon from Vespers for the Holy New Martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion