“The enemy surrounds us, and we shall perish unless we fight. If we really fight, we are given assurance of victory.” St. Francis de Sales
We encounter battles every day. Sometimes, they are difficult, often we become afraid and each one seems like the end, yet it is not. God places challenges in front of us and we need to respond. My friends in the Carmel Cloister remind me of our wounds in battle. They tell me often about how our Lord suffered and that we should not be afraid to suffer with Him. We all wounded Him in one way or another. We are His friends, and it is good to share a little suffering and humiliation for the sake of the Church…with Him! Of course, our post-western Christian culture hardly has these strong and healthy values, but at least let us carry them for the sake of others.
“You must be reconciled with your enemies, speak to them as if they had never done you anything but good all your life. Keeping nothing in your heart but the charity which the good Christian should have for everyone. So that we can all appear with confidence before the tribunal.” St. Jean Vianney
It is easy to ask someone to turn the other cheek when sometimes the only thing on our mind is revenge. We want our enemies to suffer as we did but we cannot wish that. I think about St. Martin of Tours since it was his feast day today and someone, I know reminded me that today was his name day. St. Martin was a soldier, but he also knew when he needed to not fight.
From Catholic.org: as a young soldier, Martin encountered a beggar in Amiens. The beggar was unclothed, and it was very cold. Martin removed his cloak and with his sword, he cut it in half. He gave this half to the beggar and dressed himself in the remnant. That night, Martin had a vision in which Christ appeared to him. The vision spoke to him, "Martin, a mere catechumen has clothed me." In the early centuries of Christianity, that was a long process of instruction - and Martin was deeply dedicated to it.
About the age of 20, Martin made clear to his superiors that he would no longer fight, following his formed Christian conscience. He refused his pay prior to a battle and announced he would not join in the combat. He became the first recognized conscientious objector in recorded history. His proclamation occurred before a battle near the modern German city of Worms. His superiors accused him of cowardice and ordered that he be imprisoned. Martin offered to demonstrate his sincerity by going into battle unarmed. This was seen as an acceptable alternative to jailing him, but before the battle could occur, the opposing army agreed to a truce and no conflict took place. Martin was subsequently released from military service. (Catholic.org)
"With the sign of the Cross, I shall more certainly break through the ranks of the enemy than if armed with shield and sword." St. Martin of Tours
We need to pick our battles. Some battles in the name of justice need to be fought, others do not. I think often of how society asks us to demand justice, but that is not the Catholic way. Through prayer and supplication, through prayerful silence, we can throw our cares on God because he really does care for us.
“In the solitude and silence of the wilderness… God gives His athletes the reward they desire – a peace that the world does not know and joy in the Holy Spirit.” St. Bruno
When we are wronged, we feel deflated, angry, and left wondering why. Only Christ can heal us in these difficult moments. We need to trust that he knows best, and he puts everything back in order the way he sees fit. St. Martin of Tours was a soldier, but once he made his way to Christianity in the fourth century, he realized who will really do the fighting for us. It is a great challenge to be charitable to our enemies despite some of the horrific experiences we may have had.
“Charity may be a very short word but with its tremendous meaning of pure love, it sums up man’s entire relation to God and to his neighbours.” St. Aelred of Rielvaux