Father Rutler is Pastor of the Church of Saint Michael in New York City. He is the author of twenty-five books and many essays, and has lectured widely at home and abroad.
At each Mass in our parish we recite the Prayer to Saint Michael, which was written by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 when the temporal sovereignty of the Holy See was under attack. While it used to be prayed universally after Low Masses, we continue it here since our patron is Saint Michael, and our neighborhood of “Hell’s Kitchen” historically has been in the crosshairs of Satan.
A friend of ours, Father Benedict Kiely, founded an organization (Nasarean.org) to help Christians in the Middle East where, as Pope Francis has said, the Church is being persecuted in ways more violent than at any time since the early centuries. As I write this, Fr. Kiely is in Mosul, Iraq, which has been almost totally destroyed, and where only a few Christian families remain after thousands have fled. To the discredit of much of the Western media, this has been downplayed, not unlike the refusal to ignore genocides and persecutions by Soviets and Nazis in times past.
The Aradin Charitable Trust, founded by Dr. Amal Marogy, in cooperation with the Nasarean organization, intends to have two shrines in the world dedicated to prayer for the persecuted Church. Our parish is fortunate to have the first such shrine, with an icon of Our Lady of Aradin that has been donated to us, in our important location in Manhattan. The icon depicts Mary in the traditional dress of an Iraqi bride. The border is written in Aramaic, the language of our Lord, which still is spoken in Qaraqosh, the home of the Iraqi Christian artist Mouthana Butres, who “wrote” the icon. Mr. Butres was driven from his home, along with all the Christians of Qaraqosh, by militant Muslims in August 2015, and he and his family now are refugees in Lebanon.
On the Feast of Corpus Christi, we give thanks that Our Lord is with us always, as he promised. In recent decades, there has been a neglect of the sacrificial character of the Mass. The Blessed Sacrament is a triumph of the Resurrection, which would not have occurred without the Crucifixion. Pascal said, “Jésus sera en agonie jusqu’à la fin du monde” — “Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world.” There are lands today that once were Christian, at least in ethos, but have abandoned the Cross Triumphant through sloth. There are other countries, as we have recently seen in Ireland, that have lost that triumph by violating and repudiating the Cross. While bourgeois populations dance in the streets for legalized abortion and the blessing of perverse imitations of marriage, there still are Christians taking up the cross in foreign lands, and in ways that decadents prefer to ignore. But their cries may yet redeem those who act as though they had never known the Lord.
Our icon will be blessed on Tuesday, June 12, at 6:30 p.m. in a brief service of dedication. All are welcome.