Sunday, April 10, 2011

Arrayed for Battle

Alright, it's time to get back after it.  I've taken a few weeks off for a Lenten spiritual "cleaning of house" and examination of priorities, so I wanted to begin again as we enter the last two weeks of Lent by sharing one of the things that I've had some time to reflect upon during time away from blogging.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to listen once again to Peter Kreeft's talk, entitled "Culture War."  It's a 1-hour synopsis of his book of the same title (also summarized in his online article, "The Winning Strategy") and is a stark reminder of what we are called to in life, to enter into the epic battle that has been raging throughout salvation history, beginning in the garden with the first sin of our parents.  Kreeft notes that, to enter this battle prepared requires knowledge of three things: (1) Recognizing that we are at war, and (2) Knowing who it is we are fighting, and (3) being familiar with the weapons at our disposal.  Only after that can we hope to have a chance with picking up our armor and marching faithfully into battle.  St. Paul reminds us starkly in his letter to the Ephesians (6:12) that"we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places", and St. Peter further cautions us in his First Letter (5:8-9) to "Be sober, be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world."

This weekend we had the opportunity to take our Fraternus boys on our third Excursion of the year, where we take a trip and spend time reflecting on the calling and challenge that is handed down to us as Catholic men.  We spent the night onboard the battleship USS Alabama, where they had free reign to explore the ship.  It was an incredible experience for the boys to be able to explore the ship from bow to stern without the confines of a tour, and they had a tremendous time.  What surprised me the most, though, was how much the experience struck me.  I don't think I had ever noticed before just how terribly beautiful a battleship is.  I can't imagine what it must have been like to cruise her and walk the decks when she was fully arrayed for battle.  Guys, you know what I'm talking about.  I was particularly blown away by the way she looked when dawn came and the morning fog began to burn off and her massive 16" guns and towering superstructure emerged from the night mist.  One word came to mind: WOW!  My mind was immediately taken to Song of Songs (6:9), where the bridegroom describes his bride as having the beauty of an army:

Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?

That is how we, the Church are called to live, as members of an army who stand a firm watch through the night of the "present darkness" or a battleship fully armed for battle.  We have an infinite array of weapons at our disposal, beginning with the virtues of faith, hope, and charity, together with the beautiful and eternally true teachings of the Church, handed down to us through Scripture and Tradition.  These "arms" against the gates of hell culminate in the infinite grace of Sacraments, most especially the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ himself in the Eucharist.

Armed with this knowledge and Truth incarnate, we must always be vigilant, drilling and training, and ready to engage the enemy who Christ himself described as "a murderer and a thief from the beginning, [who] has nothing to do with the truth because there is no truth in him...a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44).  Above all, we should strive to model the flawless faithfulness of our Queen of Victory, who leads us in this battle and through whom all the graces that sustain us flow, so that we might appear with her and before him at the end of time, celebrating eternally His victory over sin and death.

Our Lady, Queen of Victory, pray for us!


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