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Beside an altar in a sleepy Normandy church, a martyrdom seals our victory


Elizabeth Scalia - published on 07/27/16

This summer's dreadful headlines should prompt us to re-read the first epistle of the first pope

The headlines are grim, nearly every day, and people are asking themselves, “what is this about,” and “why now?” On social media they are sharing their feelings of dread, and uploading images of meteors crashing into earth.

I remain convinced that this hellacious year is the evil one’s response to Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy, which many people (stupidly) think of as some passive wuss of an idea.

The Year of Mercy is not passive wuss of an idea. It is a direct offensive battle tactic in a war whose end (I’m sorry, I believe it’s true) is drawing near. The evil one hates mercy; mercy is the taproot of reconciliation, which supports restoration, which enables peace, and the only tool evil possesses, deployed in myriad ways, is division.

I remain convinced, further, that what happened yesterday beside an altar in Normandy signals the beginning of the end of the world’s predominance in our awareness, and the end of Isis, too. I think it signals the surety of evil’s ultimate defeat. Not in a day; maybe not for a while, yet. And maybe many will yet suffer for the victory to come. But this martyrdom yesterday — its time and place and circumstance — has sealed the fate these black-flag carrying jihadists; they will be crumbled in the same way that they have crumbled Palmyra, shattered as they have shattered so many lives.

Many people have this week quoted Tertullian’s “Apologeticus“: “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

Aye, it is. But I think when Father Jacques Hamel’s soul rose from his body, and the angels were leading him into paradise, there was gladness in heaven, because something that needed to happen has happened; a piece to this long, long, chess game has been moved, and heaven has called “check.”

I don’t know why. In the grand scheme of things this horror pales in comparison to some of the atrocities visited upon humanity, and I know that.

Still, yesterday felt like a “click,” or like something sliding into place, to me. As though we have reached a time of choosing that Chesterton talked about before he died: “the battle is between darkness and light, and everyone must choose.”

I don’t think there are many moves left, to check mate. That must not move us into panic, though; the few moves left might be a mere blink of the eyes to the Almighty and Eternal God, yet feel like another 1000 years, to us.

Only do not be afraid. The outcome is certain. This seems an excellent time to read Peter’s first epistle, note his advice to rejoice in our baptisms, love one another and keep our eyes on Christ Jesus.

Fr. Jacque Hamel, martyred in a place named for the first martyr, pray for us.

More to read: Why are two different popes telling us to read “Lord of the World”?

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