Children of the Sunset Lands,
Living in the distant marches of the West,
In the innocence of youthful ignorance
They worshipped the gods and goddesses,
Pouring wine upon the ground for mighty Zeus
And dancing round Odin’s sacred oak,
Delighting the demons who hid behind those rites.

But then came the glorious Apostles,
The holy martyrs, the bishops, monks, and nuns,
Joyful band of Gospel-bearers,
Who dispelled the gloom, despair, and woe
That crushed the Western soul beneath
Its heavy weight, and chased away
The demons and their artful guile,
By baptizing young and old in the name
Of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

True life flourished there, a land hallowed
By hermits dear to harts and foxes,
By faithful kings and child-confessors,
Through many acts of fasting, love, and prayer,
And the building of those heavenly,
Sacred spaces – cathedrals and monasteries,
With arch and dome and apse; gilded lamps;
Icons radiant with the Spirit’s Grace;
The jeweled reliquaries holding priceless bones;
The Holy Tree of the Cross, the trophy
Of victory over death; and the throne of God,
The altar, upon which the Bloodless Sacrifice
Is offered for the life of the world.

The demons, angry and forlorn,
Wandering amidst the trackless wastes,
Madly craving the worship of the people
They had lost, began their assault
Upon the Christian West: stirring up invasions,
New oracles, plague, treachery, signs,
And other tumults. Slowly, gradually,
Little by little, their malice seeped in.
How well they knew that there would be
No return to the simplicity
Of pagan childhood for the Western folk.
To expel the Light of Christ from their hearts
Meant the birth of a wickedness darker
Than any the world had ever seen.

And the fatal flower of apostasy
Now was blooming; vengeance was at hand.
They gathered close, a vast, noisome horde,
And plunged themselves, cackling and howling,
Like knives into those now-empty breasts,
And terrors gushed out of their wounds into the world –
Blood-soaked ideologies, factories
That devour the oikumene, screens that feed
The eyes but starve the soul. The Saints forgotten,
Churches abandoned, kings beheaded –
The lush and golden Sunset Lands have become
A bewildering desert of sunken shadows.

‘And the last state of that man is worse than the first.’

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