The Lord protect us from the false saints of God, all those who slit
Hungry men’s penny-purses while mumbling verses in Latin or Sanskrit.
(May God show his great mercy by giving them hard labors
So that they may become worthy to be loved as our neighbors.)
And protect us from politicians whose glib gabble
Gobbles up wheat-ears and leaves the poor to eat stubble.
(May God beat them with little hammers and reap them with sickles
So that they may become pure enough to be song vehicles.)
And protect us from scientists with their dangerous toys—
Grown men with the curiosity of irresponsible boys.
(May God take their hearts out of deep freeze to throb with mighty song
Along with men and beasts and birds and worms and the starry throng.)
The Lord protect us from all devils that incite us to false progress.
(May God reduce us to dust with hands to hold on to his dress.)
A litany, reminiscent of the Great Litany in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer with its repeated plea ‘Good Lord deliver us’. Its targets are the hypocrites and exploiters and the heart dead scientists, but it is not really asking for vengeance on our enemies, rather asking God in His love to give them the purifying trials they need in order to be made whole. And it is accompanied by the final plea for our own purifying process, the striking idea of being dust but with hands that can cling to the Avatar’s daaman. Our own need for inner deliverance gives the poem some poignancy and bite.
Jesus tells all to love their neighbour as themselves. This is not easy with wily politicians, who have not learnt human relationships. For Francis the great delusion and heresy of modern times is the belief in false progress. Real progress is drawing near to God.