“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 is 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.
We’ve been preaching peace, while others preach war.
On that day in 1244, history records that the enemy withdrew, and Claire’s prayer, so firm, forceful, and strong, to the Lord whom she deeply loved prevailed.
The manner of its answer is also striking. A child’s voice was heard: I will have them always in my care!”
May the God who became the Child in the person of the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord, vindicate and defend His children from the ravages of men acting as beasts.
May fanaticism, superstition, idolatry, and false doctrine give way to the Truth, which alone sets men free?