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Pope John Paul II has seen it all too often. He saw it growing up in his native Poland; he experienced it during the perilous times of Nazi occupation of his city; and he felt the cold steel of a Soviet bayonet while teaching at the Catholic University of Lublin behind the iron curtain. He has seen and felt great sadness over murders and massacres everywhere in the world from his early years in Wadowice to his time as supreme pontiff when thousands are slaughtered for the sake of ethnicity or righteousness on the part of the slayers. From Rwanda to Chiapas, from Kosovo to China, From Jonesboro to the LA Freeways, from every corner of the globe the killing continues. The Holy Father himself was almost felled by a bullet from the gun of Mehmet Ali Agca a radical mideasterner who attempted to assassinate the Pope on May 13, 1981 in St. Peter's Square. Perhaps a bullet might have found its fatal mark if it had not been for the Providence of God by placing near him a young Swiss Guard in plain clothes who immediately rushed to the Pope and cradled him in his arms, shielding him from further harm while risking his own life. That man would go on to serve the Holy Father loyaly throughout the next eighteen years and have his life-achievement crowned with the Pope personally appointing him to the prestigious position of Commander of the Swiss Guard. Here was a man, a non-nobleman, who attained the highest rank in this elite corp, normally reserved exclusively for Swiss noblemen and founded nearly five-hundred years ago by Pope Julius II who commissioned the master Michelangelo himself to design the colorful uniforms. That man was 43 year-old Colonel Alois Estermann. We say was, for several hours after receiving such a high honor, he was senselessly shot down in his own apartment along with his wife Dr. Gladys Meza Romero, a Venezuelan-born medical doctor who he had been married to for fifteen years. Alongside was another man, twenty-three year old Cedric Tornay who apparently shot both before turning it on himself in suicide. It was the first murder within the hallowed halls of Vatican City in 150 years.
Once again it touches the Holy Father deeply, this time right in his own backyard. It brings to mind all that Our Lord said in Sacred Scripture and what His Blessed Mother has been imparting for the last 150 years. These are all machinations of satan who is pulling strings in a desperate attempt before his final curtain call and a new era of peace descends on all the earth. These are times that try men's souls and indicate we are that much closer to the Triumph of Mary's Immaculate Heart as she prophesied at Fatima. There is no place on earth immune from the ravages and lures of the evil one and there will be true Peace on earth only when lucifer is chained. The only means of chaining beelzebub is through prayer and, during this month of Mary - the month of the Rosary, it is so vital to launch our artillery at the enemy as often as we can. Unlike other leaders, the Pope knows the pain of suffering and loss of even one of God's children. He is in deep mourning over this incident, not because it might embarass the Vatican, but because he cares so deeply for his sheep. And one of those sheep went astray, badly astray, going into a fit over something and violated the Fifth Commandment. While Italian and secular media hounds try to put a menage trois or love triangle angle to the incident, Vatican officials disclaim such nonsense speculating rather that Tormay was upset that Esterman had dressed him down a few months ago for not meeting the standards expected of the elite Swiss Guard and the disgruntled non-enlisted officer felt unappreciative and dismayed that he had not been promoted. It was evidently a pre-meditated murder on Tormay's part for he penned a letter to be given to his family after his death just an hour or so before the dastardly deed which Vatican spolesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls called "a moment of madness."
And so it goes. Even within the peaceful confines of the Vatican satan runs amok. The Holy Father and the Heavenly Lady, to whom he has dedicated his pontificate, weep together and so should we. Not just for one man who was so dedicated to his work and to his chief commander the Supreme Roman Pontiff but for every one of God's little ones on earth whose life has been snuffed out by man. No man has the right to take another human life - whether their own or another's. This was mandated by the Father to Moses on Sinai and remains in effect today when millions are doing just that through the atrocities of abortion, euthanasia, ethnic-cleansing, starvation, exploitation and the like. No wonder Our Lady keeps reminding us that the Cup runneth over and that she can no longer hold back the Just Hand of God.
The shocking events yesterday in Vatican City bring home another point that is very alarming. How safe is our holy pontiff? Tornay, along with ninety-nine others of his fellow countrymen, took the pledge to protect the Vicar of Christ. Yesterday he flagrantly broke that vow by killing two people and himself. Who is to say another might "snap" and turn on the Pope? Who is to say someone could infiltrate in, at the beckon of liberal anarchists that do indeed reside inside the Vatican, and do in the Holy Father? While it is shocking to even think it, it is a remote possibility and when we see the violence intensify as it has in the nineties within homes, schools and the workplace we have to pray it does not reach this holy man, this giant of the twentieth century who will reach his 78th birthday in less than two weeks. The scenario of yesterday and the scope of evil in today's world make it a real possibility he is in imminent danger. There are so many "copycats" out there who are looking for their "fifteen minutes of fame" that they'd do anything - even "fifteen minutes of shame!" Yes, the Swiss Guard is there to protect the Pope, but there are only one hundred of them. Yet there is another protective unit that does an even better job of shielding our beloved Holy Father from harm's way: Mary's powerful army - a loyal band of souls who dedicate their Rosaries, prayers and sacrifices for this 264th successor of Peter. Through their unswerving loyalty and perseverance to prayer they bombard the Almighty that He keep our Pontiff safe and maintain the well-being of Christ's Holy Church on earth. Throughout the centuries it has not been so much the Swiss Guard that has protected the Popes, but rather the garrison of souls who intercede to Heaven on behalf of Holy Mother Church and her Vicars. While heroic action was taken by Estermann back on May 13, 1981 as the Popemobile sped away, much in the fashion of the Secret Service's reaction at the Kennedy assassination, it was the prayer platoon all over the world that pulled John Paul II through that tremendous ordeal. It's time to put that prayer patrol on duty once again, around the clock, for we are all in grave danger as long as satan prowls about the earth seeking the ruin of souls. The Holy Mass, the Rosary, and the Prayer to Saint Michael come immediately to mind as the best way to combat the next assault. Be ever on your guard. He wants you at the ready. Enlist now in God's elite Secret Service!