Friday, September 24, 2004

Our Lady of Ransom
Whose Roman Rite feast-day today is. The recent news of Western workers being kidnapped and executed by forces angered at the US aggression in Iraq reminded me of the inspiration of this feast: the founding in the 1200s of the Order of Mercy (O. de M. or Mercedarians) by St Peter Nolasco to ransom Christian hostages taken by the Moors by offering themselves up as substitutes. Used to know a then-novice in the order who when I asked about that told me the Mercedarians hadn't done that since at least the 1700s. Too bad. They're a sound order, still in their habits, and it seems the world could use people like them going back to their order's original purpose. (The likewise small Trinitarian order was founded in the same period and did the same thing.) I understand that Russian Orthodox Bishop Theophan of the diocese of Stavropol and the Greater Caucasus, which includes Beslan, offered to do it (or at least be a mediator) in the recent hostage siege but was turned down. Still a great witness though.

These holy men then founded
an order to set free
those Christian captives held still
in cruel slavery.
The Order of Our Lady
of Ransom would then trade
a member of their order
to free a Christian slave.

The members of this order -
the Mercedarians -
Would then try to convert all
the heathen Saracens.
These Christian men were pious
and of a goodly faith.
Our dear Lord they could never
so easily betray.

Many Christians they rescued
and sent home on their way
While they themselves did suffer
and with their lives did pay.
Their reward is in heaven
with our dear Lord above.
And there they sing with angels
to God whom they much love.
- Hymn to the tune of Ewing; words by friend Michael Ernst

I carried those children in my arms... I closed the eyes of the parents whom the terrorists killed in front of their children.
- Bishop Theophan, quoted in The Tablet

Again, I don't think the situation today is that of the Kosovo Plain, Constantinople, Granada, Lepanto or Vienna, although George W. Bush's handlers would love it if I thought it was. Again, stop propping up the Zionists in Palestine and stop stationing imperial troops in Arabia and there's no more motive for the terrorism. (As for the Caucasus, the Chechens have historical reasons to be angry - a search through this blog will give you three links that explain.) If it were a situation like the four mentioned, again, we aren't pacifists.

P.S. The Sisters of Mercy who use the Mercedarian shield for their order are no relation - they were founded in 19th-century Ireland.

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