Tag Archives: Mercy

On What Constitutes “Extreme”

I, along with many other pro-life advocates, was overjoyed to hear of the new law in the state of Texas that will effectually reduce the number of abortions in the state tremendously. Likewise, I was not exactly shocked to hear that the president, along with many others of his ilk, have recoiled at the decision. Mr. Biden even went so far as to call the new law “extreme”. This adjective used to modify a law that should have been enacted decades ago is misapplied. If I were to spend all of my time correcting the serpentine rhetoric that oozes out of Washington day after day, I would never leave my desk. But, the president’s use of “extreme” has, in the parlance of a bygone era, stuck in my craw. In response, I would like to give just a few contemporary examples that are correctly modified with the word “extreme”.

It is extreme that in America one in five pregnancies that don’t end in miscarriage are aborted. It is an extreme absurdity that we have laws that protect people who are destroying a fifth of our future population. It is an extreme mark against the so-called progressive left that they support a system that makes legal the fact that thousands more black babies are aborted in New York City than are born.

It is an extreme measure that instead of waiting until all of our countrymen and allies had made it safely out of Afghanistan, our president decided to stand by an arbitrary date of exit. It is an extreme dishonor that those who have lived under the freedom our fighting men brought to their country – including minorities like my Christian brothers and sisters – have been left to the merciless madness of the Taliban by feckless politicians, most of whom did nothing to free them in the first place.

It is an extreme departure from reason that teaches our children that the world is divided into the oppressor and the oppressed, the difference being whatever those who identify as oppressed claim it to be. Is it not extreme that critical race theory would have little white boys see themselves as villains because of the color of their skin – lads who have yet to grow their first chest hair are saddled with hundreds of years of guilt they did nothing to accumulate, and God-willing, will do nothing to perpetuate? This same extreme theory would teach young black men and women that the difficulties in their lives have nothing to do with their own choices, and thus there is nothing they can do about them; instead of encouraging them to be the upright men and women they can and should be, CRT teaches them that no matter how high they rise, they will always be victims of “systemic racism”.

It is an extreme disappointment that a free nation would allow itself to be bullied into silence by people who can’t tell the difference between a man and a woman. It is an extreme incongruity with most of our storied past that in our day to teach your son to be a chivalrous gentleman and your daughter to be a noble lady is seen by many as “abusive” and “toxic”; instead, we should leave their moral education to whom? the state? May it never be!

No, Mr. Biden, there are many things in our benighted nation that might accurately be modified by the word extreme, but a law passed to save the lives of beautiful babies made in the image of God their Creator – that is not extreme. Perhaps, the words you were looking for were “right”, “decent”, and “just”?

Lucernarium

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5

We gather all to meet the night,

And sing of Christ Who bore our sin;

With warm hearts we, in lantern’s light,

Amongst our blood-bought baptized kin,

Now hear our Father’s Word anew,

And are invited in to pray.

We stand beneath the fading hue,

Awaiting here the longed-for Day –

That morn which marks the darkness’ end!

O come, our King, make sorrow flee,

And comfort us, our Dearest Friend!

Until Your Dawn our own eyes see,

Let us endure this night in Thee.

Let us endure this night in Thee.

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The title of this poem, “Lucernarium”, is essentially an old word for Vespers, the evening office when the lamps were lighted and the brothers gathered to pray and hear God’s Word. The inspiration for this poem is a wonderful lady who has just gone to be with the Lord. My dear sister Bertha was a great encouragement to me, and I wish I had been able to know her longer; she loved poetry – a favorite topic of conversation between us – but much more, she loved her Lord. I spoke to her a couple of days before she died, and she told me that she was looking forward to stepping out of the night and into God’s glorious morning. I praise the Lord for her faith and witness!

“I, Patrick…”

In my mind I could still hear the old priest reading from the Scriptures. “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

I thought little of these words at the time. Like many of the others of my age, I was too caught up in the world as it is to give much thought to the world to come. I cared little for the things of God; indeed, I had forsaken Him. To me, His commandments were burdensome and unnecessary. His priests were no more than the spoilers of my sport, and just as I did not see the kindness and patience of God toward me, I did not see that the old man who spoke to his flock of God’s kingdom did so because he loved us.

And then, like so many others, I was taken.

I remember only a few details of when the Irish slavers first captured me. All of us had been laughing and enjoying a rare cloudless day when they came. There was no fighting them. The Roman Legions had left our island years before, and the only defenses that remained were the small militias we could muster; but the raiders struck so quickly that these were of little help. I was captured, then tied to others, then led to their ship, and then across the Irish Sea to what would be my home for six years.

How quickly my life became a walking parable! I, Patrick, who had been a slave to sin, was now a slave to men, forced to do work for which my only recompense was scant sustenance. I served my new master well; what else could I do? From my first day as a slave I tended my master’s sheep; six years I continued in forest and mountain, in all kinds of weather, caring for another man’s flock.

All the while I prayed. Sometimes I would pray a hundred prayers a day; sometimes I would pray all night, until, in the morning, both the ground about me and the cloak drawn across my shoulders were covered in frost. I couldn’t have imagined, wasting my life on lesser things back in Britannia, that here in the Irish wilderness, my freedom taken from me, I would find in Christ what it was to be truly free. It was good for me that I was so afflicted, for my affliction led me heavenward. The God I had forsaken had not forsaken me.

My Companion, my Lord, was always with me. I knew He was present, and often He brought to mind the things I had long forgotten, things my father or our priest had said about following Christ. Often, I would hear His Word in my mind, and it was more precious to me then than all the riches of Rome. I lamented only that I could not remember more! But then, God spoke a Word I had not heart before.

One night, as I lay sleeping, I heard a voice speaking. I saw no figure, no vision in the night. But, like Elijah, I heard a whisper. “Soon you will return to your own country.”

I woke. But the whisper did not cease playing and replaying in my mind. Could it be true? Was this You, O Lord? The Apostle told us to pray without ceasing. How ceaseless were my prayers the following week! I hardly breathed without uttering my sincere hope that what I had heard in my dream was indeed the voice of my God.

I was not to wait long for confirmation. A few days after this dream I had another. The same whisper spoke to me, “Your ship is waiting. Go.” When I rose from my sleep, I knew that I must obey. The journey would be difficult. The ship He had shown me was some two hundred miles from where I was. But, I trusted Him. I knew that He had loved me even before I knew Him, before I loved Him. He Who had not forsaken me, would not forsake me.

I left my master without his knowledge. The Lord was my Master now, and I knew I must obey God rather than man. But as I left in the twilight, the sheep stirred. Even as I made my way over the first hill and they could no longer be seen, I heard them bleating. A tear warmed my cold cheek. How affecting is the cry of the sheep who have no shepherd!

But where my Lord called, there I would go. I found my ship waiting where He had said, and though the captain refused me at first, my Captain softened his heart and they brought me aboard.

I returned home, no longer the man I was. But it would not be long before I dreamed yet another dream from the Lord. In my dream I heard the cry of sheep without a shepherd, a people dwelling in darkness and crying for the light. I knew them. I had seen them before, heard their voices. In Ireland.

Where my Lord called, there I would go.

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There have been many myths that have built up around the historical Patrick, Bishop of Ireland. However, the true story is one of a loving pastor who, being freed from slavery in Ireland, one day returned to the place of his slavery in order to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those enslaved to sin. We have only two works by Patrick – his Confession and his Epistle to Coroticus. The tale I related above is a dramatized account of his own testimony in his Confession. Of course, the Feast of St. Patrick occurs this month in the liturgical calendar, but St. Patrick’s Day, like many of our holidays, has become something completely different than what it was originally. This 17 March, perhaps we can instead set apart some time and meditate on God’s gracious working in and through the life of Patrick of Ireland.