Fr. Pachomius Okojie, OSB
The Power of God in Prayer and Action, in the purity of heart
Concerning the plight, the plague of our fatherland, some people are rejoicing, others are lamenting, wondering how this nightmare and migraine came about. Believe me, folks, for the most part, man is reaping what he has sown, and is still sowing with his own hands. Period. But this does not mean that innocent people are not suffering and dying. They are. Unfortunately, there are so many victims of the wickedness of men, innocent victims of man’s inhumanity to man, innocent victims of man’s thoughtlessness, godlessness, so many victims of man’s heart of stone.
Many of our people are scattered here and there, literally. Some are missing, and the number is growing. Dead or alive, they are missing. No one knows their whereabouts. Our farms and forest and highways have been turned into slaughter houses or fields of bloodshed.
Graveyards, known and unknown, litter our fatherland.
Some, quietly or boldly, in the dark or in broad day light, are hunting human beings for human sacrifice, in order to become rich, or become richer, or for perceived protection. And others are eating human flesh and drinking human blood. They are roasting and consuming the flesh and blood of our own brothers and sisters. It is outrageous. Still, it is going on; it is all happening in our dear country.
Women and children are weeping and wailing.
Our heroes, our brothers and sisters, men and women and children of our own flesh and blood are violated, killed, and wasted, on daily basis. They say that human life has little or no value any more in our fatherland. Are all those doing these things unaware that every human being has been made in the image and likeness of God? Have they forgotten that Jesus Christ died for the salvation and redemption of every soul? Are they forgetting that he will come again, sooner or later, to judge the living and the dead? Our dear parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and great great grandparents are insulted and traumatised. Many of our great sons and our beautiful daughters are ambushed, kidnapped, robbed, and/or silenced once and for all. Many of our young men and women of courage are no more. Terror and horror is spreading everywhere, and everything we labored for is being reduced to dust, to nothing, before our very eyes. Maltreatment and abuse of every kind is the order of the day, now.
The Fabric of our Nation is on Fire.
Our people are running, rushing, racing in whatever direction that they could, without a compass, without a map. Going abroad, running for their lives, many have no idea of where they are going, many have no clue, no hint as to what awaits them where they are going. Many are dying in the seas or in the desert, with no dear one around them to console them. Many die without a loved one to bury them. How did they get there? They just wanted to escape. That is all. Thousands and millions have been turned into refugees in their own fatherland, that is, in our own country. … others are running into dangerous traps, running into the mouth of wild animals, or running into the wide pits of evil and of death. I could go on and on writing about these things, but what is the point? Who does not already know about them anyway? There are many sides, many contributing factors to our problems. They are too many to enumerate. Some people, for example, are taking delight in our suffering and pain, and even some so-called respectable nations of the world are making a profit from the chaos in our country Nigeria and making a fortune from the tears of Africa. It may be hard to believe, but it is true.
God is watching, and will repay everyone according to the works of their hands. As we speak, almost everything in Nigeria has either fallen, or is rapidly falling apart, scattered. When Chinua Achebe wrote his novel “Things Fall Apart” in 1958 (two years before our independence), I bet that he could not have imagined the depth and magnitude of the problems that his fatherland, our beloved country was going to face in 2019. Dishonesty, Deceit (fraud and waste), Dislike, Dehumanisation, Distortion, Devastation, Displacement, Disorientation, Disillusionment, Disstablished-ness, Destruction, Debt, Dead-End, Dark Tunnel, Death, premature, violent, painful deaths are all but an understatement, now. Our youngsters are bitter, are brutalised, are bombarded, are bombed, or being burnt or roasted alive. Men are angry. They are furious. The cut is deep, too deep. The tortures, the slaughter has been inhuman, godless, ruthless, barbaric, with little or no pity whatsoever.
The wounds are so raw and gruesomely deep, so crude, leaving everyone of us and our beloved nation bleeding, and bleeding, and dying. The bloodshed is too much, way too much. Brutality in our fatherland these days is nothing anyone could have imagined. The invasion is moving fast and wide. It is spreading very fast, and is getting worse every day. The murderers, the men and women and children of violence and destruction, the agents of heinious crimes as well as carnivorous animals, such as Hyenas, the destroyers of every kind are marching everywhere. They are getting support and supplies from those who are supposed to protect our people. It is no secret any more. They are being protected and defended as they carry out their havoc and atrocities across the land of our birth. They seem determined to destroy us, and wipe out our people, our heritage, our cherished memories, out of the face of the earth. And they seem unstoppable, as their plans, their schemes appear to be working out very well for them.
The Turning Point
But our David will come. Our Esther is coming. Our Moses is on the horizon. Our prophet Elijah is on his way. The days of the destroyers are numbered. Their reign will be over, once we are prepared to listen to Saint Anthony of Padua. In a nutshell, his message is what the Lord our God has required of all of us, ever since the very beginning: “act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). We did not listen. We did not obey. Have we now learnt our lesson? Are we prepared now to listen? Are we prepared to walk God’s way now? Are we ready to stop doing evil and start doing good now? I sincerely hope that we are.
The Real Solution?
Violence is either already everywhere, or Is brewing everywhere. And it is erupting in places where it did not exist. Violence produces more violence. War does not end war. It only produces more uncertainty, more fear, more hate, more anger, more revenge, more violence, more guns, more bullets, more bombs. It only succeeds in prolonging an existing war. Fire does not put out fire. It only generates more fire. Hate scatters. It destroys. Just the opposite of it is love. With time, it heals. It gathers. It unites. It re-builds. It builds up, among other things, our immune system. Love and respect prolongs one’s life. Saint Anthony of Padua’s Master Key Saint Anthony of Padua’s master key, his way is that of love. It is the answer to our problems. It will put an end to our woes and our worries. Are you ready for his remedy? Do you believe in it? It will be a good thing that you do.
Let us start by recalling some events in his life. Formerly known as Ferdinand, he took the name Anthony as a mark of his devotion to Saint Anthony of Egypt, when, at the age of twenty-five, he received his religious habit. Saint Anthony of Padua was often seen visiting the Blessed Sacrament in the nearby Church, ever since he was a very young boy. One day, when he was about seven years old, he was playing; and then he started to gather some flowers, daisies to be precise. Then his father told him to play in his field to scare away the sparrows. He told him to clap his hands, throw pebbles at them, and do whatever he could to chase away the sparrows that were having a meal of the seeds that his farm workers were sowing. Anthony obeyed. “He ran here and there and invented every possible plan for scaring away flocks of sparrows.Suddenly he stood still” (The Guild of St. Anthony of Padua, Nigeria, 1998, 2011, page 1. Henceforth it will be known as GSAP, followed by the page number). Anthony stood still. But why? “Suddenly he stood still [because] through the tall trees he had just caught sight of the nearby Church Steeple. It recalled to him the presence of Jesus in the Tabernacle and he wanted to go and visit Him [for] a while. But he knew he must obey his father. [That is,] he must keep doing whatever he could to keep the birds [away] from the seeds.
Continues NEXT WEEK