Thursday, November 1, 2012

Church Militant or Church Lazy?

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints. So, why in the world am I talking about being militant or lazy? Well, in today's Office of Readings, St. Bernard reminds us that

"The saints have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them."

He continues

"Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven."

Ah, but do we really? Long for heaven I mean?

"O God, you are my God, I watch for you from the dawn. My soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you." (Psalm 63)

We Christians can sometimes misunderstand the "turn the other cheek" and "love your enemies" exhortations by our Lord to mean that we have no part in a "fight" or a "battle". So it is hard for us to think about being militant as a good thing, right? I mean, one definition of militant is "a person engaged in aggressive verbal or physical combat". That can't be Christian, can it?

First of all, we need to remember that the "fight" and the "battle" is for our souls and the souls of the world. Second, although our own souls and those of whom we love are at stake, the "fight" and the "battle" are not our own, but God's.

We can be blinded to the spiritual warfare that is going on all around us. Even those that are aware that there is evil going on around us can become distracted by the effects of sin, losing sight of that which causes it. We can take up "causes" and join "ministries" and organizations which can all be very good, but if not part of the mission of the Church, "the salvation of souls", those efforts are fruitless.

Even rightly recognizing the "battle" and our calling to it by God is just a start.

In his reflection on today's solemnity, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio writes

"But there’s the rub – many of us don’t want to exert ourselves. It can be uncomfortable. We stretch a bit to finish school, to excel at sports, to win the heart of the love of our lives. But when it comes to the things of the Spirit, we often settle with being couch potatoes."

He's right! I can be spiritually lazy much of the time. How about you?

Sure, there's a lot of work to do, but let's just start simple, ok? Remember that definition of "militant";  "a person engaged in aggressive verbal or physical combat"? Let's get aggressive verbally in our prayer life and physically by our participation in the Sacraments!

Pope Benedict in this, "A Year of Faith", calls us to an authentic and deeper conversion to Christ. Let's not be spiritual "couch potatoes"! Let's not be the Church Lazy! Let's be the Church Militant and keep another pope's words in our hearts and minds as we march onward, with Jesus as our Commander.

“We belong to the Church militant; and She is militant because on earth the powers of darkness are ever restless to encompass Her destruction.” - Pius XII; 1953

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