By Frank Cerabino
It's not so easy to come up with a prayer for Osama bin Laden. But that's what a parishioner of the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, in West Palm Beach, Fla., suggested for a recent service.
"I'm not a sympathizer nor admirer of the deceased man," said Henry Borja, 50. "The only thing that I did was to host a Mass for the forgiveness, mercy, and compassion of that miserable criminal."
Forgiveness might be a central tenet of Christian teaching, but some in the community are carrying on as if the Bible's fine print has a bin Laden opt-out clause.
So I sought to come up with a prayer that would offer comfort to both the forgiving and not-so-forgiving among us. Just select one of the two options in each italicized segment to arrive at the bin Laden prayer that suits you best.
"We ask you to (bless/dredge up) the (soul/body) of (your child/our nemesis) Osama bin Laden, so that we may (forgive/shoot) him in the (afterlife/other eye).
"For we must follow the (teachings/lead) of (your son/SEAL Team 6), who taught us that (love/revenge) is (eternal/sweet).
"We acknowledge that bin Laden is a man who left a trail of death, misery, and destruction in his wake. And as he now finds himself (in judgment/on the bottom of the Arabian Sea), we feel it's our (Christian/American) duty to hope that he rests in (peace/pieces).
"And we thank you, Lord, because his death has provided food for (thought/sharks), as it gives us an opportunity to contemplate what (being a Christian/mission accomplished) really means.
"For it is only you, dear God, who gets to decide the eternal fate of bin Laden's soul, and (whether/when) he is sent to (hell/the hottest part of hell). Furthermore, dear God, we ask you to (bless/infect) any of those (al-Qaeda associates/72 virgins) who make the trip with him.
"Matthew wrote: 'For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.'
"Matthew was (very clear/somewhat vague), so we must assume that this imperative of forgiveness (applies to/exempts) somebody as heinous as bin Laden. And so while it may be hard to (turn/torture) the other cheek, it's worth a try.
"The Bible also says that 'the good Lord pardon[s] every one that prepareth his heart to seek God.'
"And we can't rule out the possibility that bin Laden, in his last days, was preparing himself with his (holy books/extensive porn collection), which could have included (profound universal teachings on love and forgiveness/"Debbie Does Dubai").
"So we pray that as you sit in judgment of bin Laden, you hear our prayers of (forgiveness /revenge) and give this (man/expletive) all the (mercy/misery) he deserves.