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Hagiography of Saint George the Archangel

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MessagePosté le: Ven Avr 11, 2008 3:46 am    Sujet du message: Hagiography of Saint George the Archangel Répondre en citant

Hagiography of Saint George the Archangel

I Friendship

Lightning struck nearby. The terrified infants snuggled even deeper in the arms of their weeping mothers, who begged pity from the Almighty. The men were furious, blaming one another for what had happened. For six days, the elements had been unleashed on the city of Oanylone with primæval rage. An ink-black sky, heavy with menace, pressed all its weight on the wicked city. Among the small group that took refuge in the granary, long since emptied, fear sat alongside anger, fury and despair. A man who stopped laughing at God when He had announced the destruction of the city. A woman who endlessly, shamefully, revisited her luxurious orgies, with so many men and women that she couldn't count them all. A young man, who had taken the unworldly pleasure of shattering the skull of his little brother, and who was now trying to redeem himself by reassuring the children gathered in the tiny chamber. Everyone knew why they had been punished, but none dared to admit it; some of them even sought to blame the others, in the vain hope of having their own sins forgotten.

A vicious gust of wind forced the door open, filling the flimsy building with a glacial wind. Its foundations trembled when the thunderclap answered the lightning bolt with deafening power. And then, silence. The tornado still roared and the thunder still echoed, but for six days, the residents of Oanylone had known nothing but that. No, the silence was not of nature, but of humans. For the refugees were struck dumb, paralysed by terror, when they saw the shadow that was framed by the doorway. A man approached, so large and massive that he had to crouch and bring his shoulders in to enter. A rugged face and thick beard were barely visible in the half-light. His long silver hair gave him an air of wisdom, contrasting with the size of his hands, which appeared capable of crushing the hardest of rocks into dust. His pale blue eyes were timeworn, but still seemed to hold in their depths a childish pleasure. The colossus was dressed in a patched and threadbare shirt. A large piece of fabric wrapped around his legs bore witness to his disfavoured state. He gave a quick smile, and all the refugees sighed with relief. Then he let his cavernous voice be heard:

"Even when hope is gone, there is still friendship."

One old woman, with a hard face and an iron will, stepped toward him and asked:

"And you, stranger, have you come as a friend? For this is the city of men and women whose words are honey but whose deeds are venom. They live atop mountains of gold, and they want nothing from others unless it raise themselves higher in their foolish search for riches. Their thirst for treasure consumes them so that the lives of their peers matters little to them."

"I know that", the man replied. "That is why I come to you. The riches of the heart cannot be matched by the riches of this base world. Will they take their mountains of gold with them to the next life?"

"No, of course not", the old woman answered him. "But are the riches of the world forbidden to us? Must we live like animals to attain the riches of the soul?"

"Has life taught you not to use your left hand because you are using your right?", the man asked. "It is the same for the treasures that God has created for us. God, through His love for His children, has given us material riches; may they be yours. But never forget that there is no greater treasure than friendship."

Then one of the young men drew himself up and asked: "But who are you, whose words are filled with wisdom?"

"My name is George", he responded.

II Greed

Meanwhile, on one of the seven hills of Oanylone, a man trembled more than any other before the divine anger. He did not fear for his life, for that was not important to him. But he was so attached to his possessions that he could not part with them. While people were slaughtering and raping, he pillaged the inhabited houses and acquired enough riches to make a hill of precious metals, of delicate cloth, of succulent sweetmeats... He decided to build a tower so high, so large, so solid, that in it he could protect his wealth from the desire of others. He hired masons and soldiers, promising them an unrivalled salary; the former to build his fortress and the latter to repel the paupers, the disinherited and the famished who wanted his riches. These approached the slopes of the hill, which lit the area with a golden light and appetizing smells. Only the masons were allowed to set foot on the treasures, so that they could build the tower; but when one of them stopped working to indulge his greed, the soldiers struck his heart with a thousand blows of the sword. And the rich man exulted in the idea of being able to protect his goods until his death, admiring the paupers and the famished who surrounded his hill and gazed at it longingly. This man was called Beelzebub.

So George came to that place, followed by all the unhappy people who had crossed his path. When they saw the honey, and the milk, and the roasted meat, and the silk clothing, and the chests overflowing with precious stones and metals, they ran forward to take their share, not hearing George's exhortations of restraint. And the guards unsheathed their blades and dealt death to anyone approaching the riches. Once the massacre was over and tears replaced shouts, George approached to the soldiers with a calm and assured step. One of them, especially zealous, put the edge of his blade under George's chin, in a promise of violence to come.

But George said to him: "Why have you killed these poor people?"

"I'm being paid to," answered the mercenary.

"And how much have you been paid up to now?" George continued.

"Nothing. Sir Beelzebub will pay me a fortune once his tower is built and his riches stored inside," said the soldier in a self-assured voice.

"So you kill to serve a person who only wants to conserve his wealth, and you believe that he's going to keep his word and will pay you later, like he promised?" inquired George.

"That's right! Otherwise, that would be slavery!" exclaimed the soldier, eager to hear such a question.

So George concluded: "In truth, I tell you, whoever lives for material wealth, at the expense of the friendship that every child of God must bear to his peers, deserves no trust. Instead of killing to defend the greed of such a man, take his riches that crowd your feet and give them to those who actually need them. God has created these goods so that all His creatures can find what they need among them, not so that just one person can have more than any other."

Then the guards laid down their arms; the masons stopped their work; the people approached, and they shared the riches, each according to their needs. Beelzebub screamed his rage at seeing his riches disappearing, passed from hand to hand. But this occurred on the seventh day of the divine punishment of Oanylone, and the Earth began to tremble. The partly-built tower fell, and large faults opened all over the hill, swallowing up the treasures. Most of the people fled, encouraged by George. But some of them continued to fill their pockets with everything they could find. Beelzebub fought against everyone he met, such was his anger at losing what was his. The hill subsided slowly, but George spied a child in tears, left behind, his leg wedged under a heavy chest. He ran to him as the ground shook, threatening to crumble at any instant. When he reached the child, he freed his leg, took him in his arms and tried to reach safety. At that time, some people decided to reach him and help in this hopeless attempt, but the whole hill was swallowed into the bowels of the Earth, in a gigantic cloud of flame.

The people were overwhelmed with sadness to lose such friends. They wondered if God took pleasure in making His creatures suffer. But they understood when they saw a soft calming light shine from the pit in front of them. And beings rose up, carried on majestic white wings, spreading tranquility and gentleness. The people saw those who had died trying to save the child among them. But they saw George most of all, raised to the rank of Archangel, holding the child in his arms and returning him to his mother, unharmed. Then they all flew away toward the Sun, where God awaited them.

III The tongues

There was a time when King Hammurabi of Babylon fought all over Mesopotamia to become the King of Kings. One day, his troops went to the city of Mari and put it to the torch. The people were terrified and did not know how to escape. Then, the creature without a name came and murmured in the ear of a Babylonian General, whispering that he should exact a tribute from each person in exchange for their lives. The more a person gave, the less their chance of dying. The rich lords of the city, the same people who advised little but the Shakkanaku, the kings of the city, approached first, bringing with them heavy chests filled with riches. But there was an old woman whose only wealth was a few grains of wheat. The mercenaries laughed in her face, telling her that such a gift was offensive to the Babylonian General. They drew their swords and approached the old woman, ready to run her through. But a tall man with a silver beard stepped between them. One of the soldiers raised his sword but could not strike the man, as though prevented by an invisible force. The man opened his mouth and exclaimed:

"Why would you strike this woman? While the rich lords of Mari kept innumerable riches to themselves, she has offered you everything she owns. You mock her gift, but she has given her essence while they gave nothing but the superfluous. Take these grains of wheat, and carry them with you; they will weigh heavily on your heart in the Lunar Hell."

Then the man went to the chests and distributed their contents among the poorest and hungriest of Mari. The guards did not know how to deal with this unarmed man, who could not be struck and whose strength was in the wisdom of his words. Defeated, they raised camp and returned to Babylon.

The voyage to this powerful city was long. The heat was intense, and the air along the canals and bank of the Euphrates was humid. But once they arrived, they were surprised to see the silver-bearded man waiting for them at the feet of its gigantic walls.

The General asked him: "Who are you, who speak with such wisdom?"

"I am George the Archangel, modest servant of the One God, Whom you have forgotten before legions of false divinites and a life of sin," he answered. He added: "Follow me to the ziggurat, and you will see for yourself the judgement of God, as I saw it myself long ago."

So the General and his guards followed the Archangel to the base of a gigantic stepped tower, covered with flowering plants, proof of the omnipotence of King Hammurabi of Babylon.

Then George raised his arms and proclaimed: "The children of God have always spoken one selfsame tongue, for brothers and sisters must understand one another to love one another. But today they tear themselves apart, for they have forgotten their Father and His love. A day will come when the prophets will follow one another to remind people where they come from and where they are going. Until that time, you will be judged not by your faith, but by your love of the world around you. Learn to know it, and you will learn to love it. In order to make this come to be, God, in His great mercy, has decided to divide the word of His children into many tongues, so that you must make an effort to discover each other.

And Saint George lowered his arms, and the tower fell in an immense cloud of dust. From that day forward, the word of the children of God has been manifold, and we must learn from one another in order to live. In so doing, we understand the point at which are differences are misleading, and that we are all brothers and sisters.
Former Bishop of Clifton
Former Roman Cardinal-Elector and Prélate Plénipotentiary
Former Cardinal Chamberlain of England, Scotland, and Ireland
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