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Orison

Source: Matthew 7:11


We are the flying buttresses who uphold the cathedrals, who hold them up to heaven. We draw on that strength to build civilizations; if we falter, they fall. Listen as I recall the world to come: my memory writes with water and, once your soul has taken it in, for you that water will be changed into wine.

My name is Cornelius du Puy-Montmarc. I have devoted my life in battle to defending this country's integrity; I have put my soul in the balance to defend its honour. And one thing I declare: whatever the horrors of war, I have always walked with God. I have taken many lives; each time, I have offered up my own. It was not that I bared my flesh to the blade: I took risks, so that we could take heart, so that we would leave room for divine providence to act in the struggle. Not recklessness, but risk-taking, is the sign of my trust in God, the essence of every success.

My love ran deep for my comrades in arms, my brothers, my only family: life and death depended on the soundness of that family. I was bound to each one of them by a sacred tie; as the fingers on the hand of destiny together work out a single supernatural will, we engaged in battle. For each one of them, I risked my life; each one of them, by their attention alone, saved mine. I was not cold. I was not lukewarm. I accepted that the fire of heaven could consume me; I accepted that I could be the bush in which the living word would burn hot. With the sole source of life in my inmost soul, I advanced on the malicious sources of death.

As did the Christ, I accepted that I could be sacrificed so that those I love might have life. Has anyone greater love than this?

And is such great love not worth remembering?

Our mothers had lulled us to sleep; our foes awakened us. Alertness to the tumult made us strong; and then we acted, without anger. We had no hatred for others who, like us, were children of God. No one can call an enemy a bad servant; only the master can judge.
We had no hatred; we had a duty to halt their ruinous madness.
We fought to preserve our forebears' heritage, because within us beats this country's heart, because it is our tears that water our land and our sweat that fertilizes its furrows. Because, always, everything our people have rebuilt has been greater than what they lost.

There were days. There were nights. Then, after the night, over the valley of Beracah it was dusk, and out of that twilight came the hordes. They burned our towns; they took our wives as prostitutes and our children as slaves. Those of us untouched by transcendence wanted to run away. For them, to act for oneself seemed to promise wealth; but for those who remained, the only promise of wealth was to give oneself away. The ones who ran away became solitary targets; they fed our foes.

There were long battles, in fire, in ashes, in hell; in those battles, I lost many of my comrades in arms. Some of them died at my side. Sometimes, as the spark in their eyes faded, I thought I saw the eyes of a dying Christ.
They were rough and ready warriors, loyal to their mission, fearless at the last leavetaking. Many of our people were saved from vile dishonour by their stubbornness, their sacrifice.

Every war is a curse. That war was a curse. The losses in my camp were infinitely greater than those in the enemy camp. I left my innocence there; but I testify today that there were many saints among us. Not every orans is destined to be a martyr. Some die whose faith defies the realm of death. Others die so that life can breathe in the Holy of Holies; these were the ones who fought with us.

When saints do battle, they do not kill for themselves, or even for the Almighty. It is God who takes life, God only who does violence that can save; and none can deliver from the might of God's hand. We witnessed the orans, saturated and flowing with grace, gather up the manna of that divine violence and hand it to us, still keeping it pure from any human defilement. How was such a thing made possible?

It was made possible because we were free of all untruthfulness, because we accepted that we could be lost to life well before death took us. When all was said and done, we accepted being what we really are: each a burning willingness, predicated on the white-hot brilliance of the master.
And so, like the saints, we charged, our hearts filled with the spirit of justice. We were still men, but our souls were as vast as churches. We fought as the archangels fought fallen angels: with the name of God. That name, both shield and sword, was also the sacred place of encounter.

The victor in that long series of battles was the army of the saints. It could not have been otherwise: it is written that only in the last battle will they be fully defeated. And that defeat, freely accepted, will bring about the ultimate victory: the victory of the Holy One of God.
Listen to him pray, the Prayerful One of God. His prayer is present already; it pierces the tumult with a silence so compact that it forms the mortar binding together the bricks of the world. When that silence speaks, this world will crumble.

Let me finish. For the generations after us, who will need to face the ever-changing, many-headed hatred that evil brings, I want to pass on something they must know, something every warrior in these apocalyptic times knows: God is spirit, and when the spirit of God is upon you, every battle is fought in the valley of Beracah. It is God who does battle, and it is our very trust in God that is borne beyond the gates of death.