I woke up very early this morning (a festivity here in England, and apparently a fine day too) to hear the news that is now going round the world: Osama Bin Laden is dead, killed by a US Navy SEAL commando of 40 in Pakistan.
I won’t do anything to hide from you my sense of satisfaction, of a job well done, and of gratitude and admiration for the brave soldiers who executed this brilliant operation without even a casualty.
A short time later, in front of my hot caffellatte, I wondered how probable it was that the bastard now rots in hell. Rather probable, I would say. Nay, make it very probable. The idea that he would, on his last seconds (and we do not know the details, but from what has transpired it would appear that he has seen it coming; which again doesn’t make me sad, at all), manage to get a perfect contrition is, how should I put it, not entirely believable.
And so I was there, looking into my caffellatte in this glorious sunny morning of victory and justice, and wondering whether I should… pray for Osama Bin Laden’s soul. I pray for the dead (particularly for my dead, I admit; but for all the dead anyway) every day and this prayer is to me not only the compliance with a religious duty but a tender link to beloved people not here with me anymore; moments in which I detach myself from the cares of this world and connect in spirit to the other part of my family, those who are now past those cares, and in which I give back in a small way the endless prayers that – I am sure – several of them have prayed for me and for all those I love. Therefore, praying for the dead is something I love to come back to again and again, just because it is a tender moment.
Should I therefore, now, expressly pray for…… such a bastard? For the epitome of senseless cruelty and fanaticism? Should I pray for him, even if I am almost sure that he rots in hell and the seventy-two virgins might have – more or less metaphorically speaking – turned out to be something like, say, seventy-two angry feminists or seventy-two extremely horny sodomites?
I tried, and I failed. It seemed insincere to pray for someone you feel is in hell. It seemed like I was just making a stupid attempt at “feeling good” (I hate these things, having experienced that people who try to be good and people trying to feel good are two completely different sets of people) with utter disregard for the reality on the ground.
Still – I thought – I do pray every day the Lord that he may “lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of [His] mercy”. But this is a generic embrace of suffering humanity and, most importantly, refers to a salvation that is still possible to every one of them. I was, therefore, very unsure.
But then I reflected a bit more, and I realised (always looking at my caffellatte, still too hot to drink) that Jesus must have loved this soul as much as everyone else’s, and that his salvation was as important to him as the one of the greatest of his saints. Seen in this perspective, things changed and I could now envisage praying for him not because I think that he is probably in purgatory (which I don’t), but because after the Holy Ghost has made an effort to recover him for so many years, I can at least put an effort of mercy for a short minute.
I therefore made the sign of the cross and started: “Eterno riposo dona loro, Signore…….“; feeling at the beginning – I admit – slightly stupid in the process but going on the best I could, and repeating the exercise three times.
At the end of the prayer, a strange sensation came to me: not the one of “feeling good” (which I hate), but of a little obstacle that I had overcome: the one of not only knowing, but feeling that the person I despised most on earth was still a beloved child of Christ, a soul of infinite importance. It seemed to me that I had done my duty of forgiveness for the improbable case he has escaped hell, and that I had paid my little homage to his long-suffering Guardian Angel and to the Holy Ghost who both have, I am sure, made so many efforts to save him.
Dear readers, you know that I am absolutely allergic to good-ism and similar bollocks, and that I think that there is a time for peace and a time for war.
Still, there is also a time to tear and a time to mend; a time to kill, and a time to heal.
In this glorious day of victory and justice you may want to try, if you can, to pray for Osama Bin Laden.
It probably won’t do any good to him.
It certainly won’t do any harm to you.