A personal moment here: I have been musing on Iraq a lot lately and, forgive me, I am a Catholic and Catholics who choose to study and learn the Faith and its history have an annoying habit of developing very long memories. Looking at this video of the ferocious start to the United States’ military campaign in Iraq almost a dozen years ago now along with all of the hoohah that went along with it and pondering the state of Iraq and the entire Middle East today I cannot help but recall Polybius’ rendering of Scipio Aemilianus’ words in what should have been his moment of supreme triumph as he watched Rome’s great enemy Carthage being destroyed on his own order:
1 Scipio, when he looked upon the city as it was utterly perishing and in the last throes of its complete destruction, is said to have shed tears and wept openly for his enemies. 2 After being wrapped in thought for long, and realizing that all cities, nations, and authorities must, like men, meet their doom; that this happened to Ilium, once a prosperous city, to the empires of Assyria, Media, and Persia, the greatest of their time, and to Macedonia itself, the brilliance of which was so recent, either deliberately or the verses escaping him, he said:
A day will come when sacred Troy shall perish,
And Priam and his people shall be slain.1
3 And when Polybius speaking with freedom to him, for he was his teacher, asked him what he meant by the words, they say that without any attempt at concealment he named his own country, for which he feared when he reflected on the fate of all things human. Polybius actually heard him and recalls it in his history.
All nations and all peoples come to ruin, most by their own hand in some form or another. Only the Catholic Church will still remain at the end. Aemilianus’ thoughts about Rome’s future proved accurate enough in time, and I do not think that the authors of the attack on Baghdad will have to wait nearly so many centuries to have the same fate visited on our cities as this:
ἔσσεται ἧμαρ ὅτ’ ἄν ποτ’ ὀλώλῃ Ἴλιος ἱρὴ
καὶ Πρίαμος καὶ λαὸς ἐῠμμελίω Πριάμοιο
Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Antioch, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient status as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.