Divine intervention is much more common than we realize I suspect, often anonymously dispensed, but where the dangers are extreme our participation is also required. Amongst many famous examples is the battle of Lepanto where, as the praying witnesses put it, ‘the sails of the Holy League were filled with Divine breath’ referring to the sudden change in wind direction that won the day and sent the fleet of the Ottoman Empire swiftly to the bottom of the sea. St Pope Pius V, far away in Rome, was granted a vision of the battle in the sky and saw the victory, through the intercession of Our Lady, which he had instructed the people to pray for.
A few months ago, a Nigerian Bishop, praying in his adoration chapel, received a vision too. In the vision, the prelate said, Jesus didn’t say anything at first, but extended a sword toward him, and he in turn reached out for it. “As soon as I received the sword, it turned into a rosary,” the bishop said, adding that Jesus then told him three times: “Boko Haram is gone.”
He has since passed on this instruction to the faithful and as the engine of intercessory prayer gathers momentum we are already hearing news of progress in that Boko Haram territory is falling to the Nigerian military and many of the women and girls abducted have since been set free. An encouraging beginning.
In our day there is much to suggest that evil men have the upper hand, the atrocities of ISIS are particularly disturbing and their methodology in killing Christians; beheadings and crucifixions, certainly indicates the source of their inspiration. There may be a tendency to hopelessness in the face of this kind of onslaught, particularly as the secular nations of the coalition seem hesitant and reluctant to engage decisively with ISIS which serves to prolong their reign of terror.
But, as Christians, we have the weapons to deal with them effectively. Some might suggest that if our prayers were to cast out the evil from the hearts of ISIS fighters, the demons would be so dark and so numerous as to block out the light from the sun, to which I hope we can respond (like Dienekes)’ then we will pray in the shade’