During the ordination rite of a priest, the bishop says to the newly ordained: “Know what you are doing; model your life on the mystery of the Lord’s Cross.”
Knowing what you are doing presupposes knowing who you are. In small matters, not knowing what we are doing might be comical or annoying, but in more serious matters it could prove deadly. Mistaking a minefield for a picnic ground, for example, could be deadly indeed.
On a larger scale Catholics might fail to know who they are. Some might think that various parish and school activities is what being Catholic is all about. In reality, Catholics including you and I, are called to see ourselves as soldiers as we go about these various parish and school activities as well as when we are at home, school and at work!
Saint Paul says it well: Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of darkness, and evil spirits. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil and to hold your ground; stand fast with your body girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate; shod your feet in readiness with the gospel; hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Saint Peter adds: Be sober and alert; your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour; resist him, solid in your faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same struggle.
This is not something new; this battle against Jesus, His teachings and His followers began the day our Lord was born in Bethlehem; when Herod sent out his soldiers to murder the children of Bethlehem.
We Catholics are in the midst of a war, whether we like it or not. That’s why the Church on earth is called the Church Militant. The first reading, with its vision of heaven uses militaristic language about those victorious in battle. Soldiers at war always turn to prayer. Hence the old saying: “There are no atheists in foxholes.” Soldiers pray to be victorious in battle. Catholics too pray to be victorious over the battle of darkness, sin and evil.
Tomorrow we pray for those in Purgatory; often called the Church Suffering. However, today we remember all the Saints in Heaven, called the Church Triumphant. They are set before us not merely as examples to imitate and encouragement – but also to obtain strength and courage in our struggle to be faithful to Jesus and His teachings!
We members the Church Militant certainly need the prayers of the victorious Saints in Heaven as we wage this war against the world rulers of darkness, and evil spirits. We battle a war of love over fear, of life over death, of grace over sin. Today let us recall that we are members of the Church Militant!