Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
When I see the victims of these terrible atrocities I have to remind myself that often times it is the perpetrator of the heinous act that needs my prayers even more than the innocents who have suffered. For as we read in the second letter of St. Peter:
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
...and in Ezekiel we read:
Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares the Lord GOD, "rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?
So as much as my flesh cries out for blood retaliation, my spirit is quietly whispering, " pray for your enemies". God doesn't want any sinner to die unrepentant. So my prayer should be for repentance, not death of those who are carrying out these crimes. Not that we shouldn't do what we can to physically restrain this evil as well. But, as Christians, we need to clearly focus on the root of the problem and the true, lasting solution.
I am also reminded that, in the case of the Christians in the Middle East, this is not something new or something that we as Americans will necessarily be exempt. Jesus told us:
"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.
And St. Paul said to the Romans:
Throughout history we have many documented accounts that the holy death of a martyr was the very catalyst that brought repentance to their own torturers. We might not all be called to a dramatic physical martyrdom, but we are all called to, "take up our cross and follow Christ", and, "present ourselves as living sacrifices". This is not usually all that easy in our hedonistic minded world.
So, in short, these are the things that I especially need to remember:
Satan and his demons are really the ones we are fighting and that battle is won through prayer and personal holiness. I need to pray for those souls who are committing these awful crimes. This life is short and this world is not my home. As a Christian I am called to a life of sacrifice and death-to-self in imitation of Christ.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject as well.
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.