Drug war saints
(First of two parts)
The year was 96 AD. The place: the isle of Patmos in Greece. It was a Sunday. Saint John, traditionally known as the disciple whom Jesus loved, was an old man. In an important moment that I like to think fulfilled Jesus’ word that the apostle might not die until he saw the Christ return, John was gifted with visions of the end of days. He recorded what he saw in the book of Revelation or the Apocalypse, the last in the Bible.
In the twelfth chapter, John wrote, “Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.
“The dragon was not strong enough, and he and his followers lost their place on high.”
John continued, “The great dragon was hurled down — that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.
“It is providential that Saint Michael the Archangel is the patron of police officers. From the perspective of faith, the destruction of lives wreaked by drug syndicates on people as in the Philippines occurs with no small help from the serpent and his assistants.
A prayer to Michael the Archangel for police officers runs thus:
“Saint Michael . . . who once so neatly and successfully cleared God’s premises of all its undesirables, look with kindly and professional eyes on your earthly force.
“Give us cool heads, stout hearts, and uncanny flair for investigation and wise judgment.
“Make us the terror of burglars, the friend of children and law-abiding citizens, kind to strangers, polite to bores, strict with law-breakers and impervious to temptations. . . .”
The Philippine National Police has the people’s support in the war against drugs. It must accept that the Senate’s investigation of its operations is part of that support. Teachers are subject to regular evaluations of their pedagogical performance. Doctors can be stripped of their licenses for medical malpractice. Lawyers can be disbarred for flouting the law. Every profession is subject to examination.
Police divide the people when some among them tell human rights advocates to seek help from a criminal rather than from a cop the next time they are victimized. They overstep their boundaries when, as our top cop did, they call for burning the houses of those suspected of involvement in illegal drugs. Fortunately, he has apologized.
Our policemen and women are invited to accept people’s concern to ensure their operations are aboveboard as an answer to the petition for them to exercise wise judgment and ignore the lure of taking law enforcement shortcuts.
* * *
The year was 1941. Millions had been rounded up and taken to concentration and extermination camps run by the Nazis. In one of these, Auschwitz in Poland, some detainees escaped.
To prevent similar escapades, death camp authorities decided to teach remaining prisoners a lesson by choosing ten people to kill by starvation. One was a husband and father. He pleaded for his life.
Maximillian Kolbe, a Franciscan friar, another detainee, volunteered to take the man’s place. Maximillian remained alive after two weeks with neither food nor water, so his captors decided to execute him using a deadly injection of carbolic acid. Maximillian Kolbe was canonized in 1982 by Pope Saint John Paul II. His dying of a lethal injection of drugs elicited prayers for him to intercede for the rehabilitation of drug dependents.
This prayer, titled “A novena to Saint Maximillian Kolbe for the grace to be freed from addiction” is to be offered once daily for nine consecutive days. Let us pray this novena.
“Saint Maximilian Kolbe, your life of love and labor for souls was sacrificed amid the horrors of a concentration camp and hastened to its end by an injection of a deadly drug.
“Look with compassion upon (mention person’s name here) who is now entrapped in addiction to drugs/alcohol and whom I now recommend to your powerful intercession. Having offered your own life to preserve that of a family man, I turn to you with trust, confident that you will understand and help.
“Obtain for me the grace never to withhold my love and understanding, or to fail in persevering prayer that the enslaving bonds of addiction may be broken and that full health may be restored to him/her, whom I love.
“I will never cease to be grateful to God who has helped me and heard your prayer for me. Amen.”
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