And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.
GK Chesterton, Lepanto
Hattip to Pat Archbold at Creative Minority Report. Father Robert S. Hewes recalls some very relevant history:
Getting all medieval..
“Does it please Thee, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children whom I have nourished with Thy Love?”
The words above stood out like a thunderclap.
Earlier this morning (August 11th) I was reading the entry in “Butler’s Lives of the Saints” for the saint of the day: St. Clare of Assisi, a friend and contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century.
I had not thought to have read such words from a Saint who followed her fellow-townsman Francis in the spirit of poverty and simplicity. As a line from a movie has it, Clare “got all medieval” that day.
Well, St. Claire WAS “medieval”.
However, the account of the events that lead to long-ago prayer of Claire are strikingly modern. An army in the service of (of all people) the “Holy Roman Emperor” in the year 1244 advanced on her city. This host was ravaging the area around Clare’s convent just outside Assisi and was largely composed of hired “Saracens” (i.e., Arab Muslim warriors) and approached the walls of her enclosure. She took herself to the wall, the Blessed Sacrament borne before her in a pyx and she faced the advancing Islamic troops. It was then she prayed the words that began this article.
Not very ecumenical we might think. Maybe she was too harsh?
After all, can’t we all just get along?
It takes two to get along.
You and I are used to assuming all people are basically good, and all religions are essentially good. How often do we think ‘we all believe in the same God”?
What is emerging and is rampaging today now in the form of “ISIS” or “ISIL” is an old story: militant Islam carrying the sword and demanding total submission to Allah as they conceive him to be. We are in merely the newest phase of a struggle that has gone on intermittently from 1400 years in the Middle East and has now spread West, as it once did.
Go here to read the rest. Catholicism historically has been a rather practical religion. The Faith gives us a path to Heaven by following Christ, but the Church has not pretended that we can always live our lives in this Vale of Tears as if we were already in Heaven. Thus, the Church has not been shy about meeting force with force when necessary to protect Christianity. The Crusades were a fairly tardy defensive reaction to the march of militant Islam by the Church, and the survival of Christianity in Europe probably is due to the time gained for the West by these conflicts. Since the fall of the Papal States in 1870, strong currents of utopianism and pacifism have largely been dominant within the Church. Alas, the world is no more utopian or pacifist than when Pope Urban II launched the crusades almost a millenium ago, a fact that I pray more Catholic clergy become aware of during this century.