Spirituality for Today – July 2009 – Volume 13, Issue 12

Editorial – Marching As To War

By Rev. Raymond Petrucci

Sabine Baring-Gould's old and venerable hymn Onward Christian Soldiers describes a need among Christians to be aware of the powerful enemies of Christ and Christianity waging war on the faith throughout the world and to adopt a Christian militancy in order to meet it. What shape is this Christian militancy to take? Certainly, one must dismiss the brawl that took place last November between Armenian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox monks at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem over custodial rights. Nor is there sanction for acts of violence toward people or institutions. Yet, the time has come to call forth legions of Christians to engage the forces of evil in a Holy War.

At the risk of being passed off as an intractable, fiery-eyed zealot, allow me to define my terms. By Holy War, I mean precisely that – a war of holiness. The weapons employed are the love and moral teachings of Christ. The warfare conducted by the soldiers of Christ is living a Christ-like life, celebrating the joy of faith, witnessing to love, justice, charity, decency, and all that represents the good.

The warfare conducted by the soldiers of Christ is living a Christ-like life...

Faith and virtue are becoming elements maladapted to modern culture. Like a progressive rot on the flesh of society, the base, the vulgar, and the malignant in thought, speech, and deed are gaining acceptance. In comments acrimonious and somewhat mendacious, General Winfield Scott, in his memoirs of the Mexican-American War, described General Gideon Pillow as "amiable and possessed of some acuteness, but the only person I have ever known who was wholly indifferent in the choice between truth and falsehood, honesty and dishonesty; - ever ready to attain an end by the one as the other, and habitually boastful of acts of cleverness at the total sacrifice of moral character." This description fits far too many people at every level of today's societal structure. The world itself still reverberates from the bitter fruit of people of this ilk.

There is, however, a terrible thought that keeps reoccurring. What if the war is over and the good guys lost? As we know, surveys might be construed reasonably to be of dubious value. Yet, one's heart sinks at the results of studies that indicate that there is little difference on moral issues between Christians and non-Christians. If the banner of Christ is to be unfurled effectively, the bearer must be a true representative of the faith. The individual believer must take seriously the truths of the faith and the responsibility of believing. A consistent and maturing prayer life, a deep consideration of the moral concerns of the day, and a devotion to witnessing to the faith are requisite armaments for the soldier of Christ. There is another factor that is a slippery and perilous reality: the insidious and invasive nature of the atheistic secular agenda. I refer to those current surveys about moral beliefs and practices. So much that is anti-Christian has established a beachhead in modern thinking that a keen eye is required to perceive and to deter its effects. The point is adroitly expressed in an article by Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, who writes, "We cannot hope to renew society if society cannot detect a difference in the way Catholics marry, raise their families, conduct their business or serve in government. In other words, we can never hope to renew society unless we ourselves are committed to renewal in our own lives. And we can never hope to renew society as long as we find ways to accommodate social values that are fundamentally opposed to the values of the Gospel." Slowly and seductively, a believer can be transformed into someone unrecognizable as a Christian

In Eucharistic Prayer II of the Mass, we thank God for considering us to be worthy to stand before Him and to serve Him. The measure and type of that service rests with the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given the individual and that person's unique and personal talents. May we all know and use these gifts of love. And so, march on!