Again we must pray against the pagans, that is, against terrorists who may as well worship a demon (since it is to Hell's depths they have been damned, barring a prodigy of grace efficacious to convert such atrocious sinners in their dying moments as they were shot). I spent the whole time driving to Hobart and back today listening on the ABC radio to nothing but coverage of the terrorist attack in London, so this is in the forefront of my mind.
Yet, as our priest reminded us today in an aside during his sermon, if we consider our own sins, we know that, but for God's forbearance and mercy, we ourselves would already have fallen into Hell – as Dathan and Abiron, who in their mad pride had outrageously sinned against the Lord by daring to offer unholy fire, went down alive into Hell (Numbers xvi, 33).
All have sinned and fallen short of God's glory, but are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans iii, 23f); else nothing but sin, Satan, death and Hell await us. Repent, pray, and pray for the conversion of all sinners!
I attach a link to last year's post, and append herewith extracts from the writings of St Maximus of Turin, who preached to his people, afflicted by the impending advance of barbarian invaders, in words which may help at this time of crisis and fear:
From the Sermons of St Maximus of Turin.(Sermons 83, 1; 85, 1-2; 86, 1; 85, 3; 86, 3)I remember having frequently said that we should not fear any warlike disturbances nor be frightened at any great multitude of foes since, as the Lord [sic; lege St John] says (1 John 4:4), “The one who is in us is greater than the one who is in this world”; that is to say, Christ is more powerful to protect his servants than the devil is to provoke our enemies. For although this same devil collects mobs for himself and arms them with cruel rage, nonetheless they are easily destroyed because the Saviour surrounds his people with superior auxiliaries, as the prophet says (Psalm 33:8): “The angel of the Lord comes round about those who fear him, and he will save them.” If the angel of the Lord snatches those who fear him from dangers, then one who fears the Saviour cannot fear the barbarians, nor can one who observes the precepts of Christ be afraid of the onslaught of the foe. These are our weapons, with which the Saviour has outfitted us: prayer, mercy, and fasting. For fasting is a surer protection than a rampart, mercy saves more easily than pillage, and prayer wounds from a greater distance than an arrow, for an arrow only strikes the person of the adversary at close range, while a prayer even wounds an enemy who is far away.
Perhaps you are anxious, brethren, at the fact that we hear continually of the tumult of wars and the onslaught of battles, and perhaps your love is still more anxious inasmuch as these are taking place in our times. But this is the reason: the closer we are to the destruction of the world, the closer we are to the kingdom of the Saviour. For the Lord himself says: “In the last days nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. But when you see wars and earthquakes and famines, know that the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Cf. Luke 21:9-11,31.) This nearness of wars, then, demonstrates to us rather that Christ is near. Therefore I must not be afraid of the approaching adversary, since by these signs do I understand instead that the Saviour is approaching, for although the one induces a temporal fear, yet the other will bring an eternal salvation. The same Lord, however, is powerful both to drive from us fear of the foes and to bestow on us his own presence. By these warlike disturbances, then, the destruction of the world is somehow signified, for this unrest precedes the future judgement of God.
Your love remembers that we preached that by good actions and constant prayers we may open to ourselves the gates of righteousness (cf. Psalm 117:19) and that by frequent almsgiving we may fortify ourselves as with a rampart of mercy. For to resist by almsgiving and to struggle by fasting are indeed an impregnable wall against the adversary. For although the enemy’s weapons may be powerful, nonetheless these weapons of the Saviour are stronger. If anyone is armed with them, even though he appear defenceless in the eyes of human beings, he is nonetheless adequately armed because the most high Divinity is guarding him. In tribuation then, it is good to pray, to fast, to sing psalms, and to be merciful, for by these weapons Christians are accustomed to conquer their adversaries; by these arms they are accustomed to guard the bulwarks of the city. For the holy prophet says (Psalm 126:1): “Unless the Lord guard the city, those who guard it keep watch in vain.” At the same time this teaches us that victory is not to be hoped for from arms alone but is to be prayed for in the name of the Saviour. Therefore, brethren, let us arm ourselves throughout this week with fasts, prayers, and vigils so that, when the mercy of God comes upon us, we may hold back the savagery of the barbarians.