Prayer in the furnace

God always offers forgiveness – I said, softening my tone – to those who are truly sorry. But sorry isn’t a feeling, you understand. It’s an action. A determination to make things right.

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[Prayer] will not protect you. It will help your soul. It’s for while you’re alive.

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Sin is a lonely thing, a worm wrapped around the soul, shielding it from love, from joy, from communion with fellow men and with God. The sense that I am alone, that none can hear me, none can understand, that no one answers my cries, it is a sickness over which, to borrow from Bernanos, “the vast tide of divine love, that sea of living, roaring flame which gave birth to all things, passes vainly.” Your job, it seems, would be to find a crack through which some sort of communication can be made, one soul to another.

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I don’t know if any of you know Wilfred Owen. He was a soldier who died in the First World War, a war that killed soldiers by the hundreds of thousands. Owen was a strange sort. A poet. A warrior. A homosexual. And as tough a man as any Marine I’ve ever met. In World War One, Owen was gassed. He was blown in the air by a mortar and lived. He spent days in one position, under fire, next to the scattered remains of a fellow officer. He received the Military Cross for killing enemy soldiers with a captured enemy machine gun and rallying his company after the death of his commander. And this is what he wrote about training soldiers for the trenches. These are, by the way, new soldiers. They hadn’t seen combat yet. Not like he had. “Owen writes: ‘For 14 hours yesterday I was at work—teaching Christ to lift his cross by numbers, and how to adjust his crown; and not to imagine he thirsts until after the last halt. I attended his Supper to see that there were no complaints; and inspected his feet that they should be worthy of the nails. I see to it that he is dumb, and stands at attention before his accusers. With a piece of silver I buy him every day, and with maps I make him familiar with the topography of Golgotha.

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At Fujita’s memorial service I read from Second Timothy: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith“.

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Redeployment – Phil Klay

 

 

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