Soldiers for Christ
In these times of social, political, and civil unrest, revolutionary groups are determined to overthrow American society. Christianity and established moral principles are under attack. The future of our country, and our personal and religious liberties are at stake.
A major objective of revolutionary groups, in Satan's war against society and the Church, is the destruction of the family. The importance of the family cannot be dismissed. The family is our first and most effective school. Anyone who has grown up in an orphanage can testify to the difficulty and emptiness of not having a family.
In recent years, the attacks against the family have grown more severe. The destruction of family life divides and isolates us. Many, especially the young and vulnerable, have already been seduced. We only need to look at the events of our times to see that strengthening the family must be one of our highest priorities.
Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Family. Let's start by asking what do we mean when we say a thing is Holy? Joseph, Mary and Jesus are called the Holy Family. Scripture is called the Holy Bible. Jerusalem is the Holy City. And, Israel is Holy Land. What is it that makes these things Holy?
Generally, we tend to regard holiness, particularly the holiness of persons, as a behavior. However, the underlying basis for holiness goes much deeper. All of these have one thing in common. And that is: they all belong to God.
Holiness, in this regard, is primarily a change of vision. If we truly believe that we belong to God - that our families belong to God - that changes our entire perspective. Then, holiness is not so much what we do, but who we are. And, knowing who we are changes everything - especially what we do.
Being Holy is not a remote ideal that is beyond our reach. The Spirit of God dwells within us. But often, it needs to be awakened with a renewal of vision and attitude. On hearing the Annunciation, Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to Your Word.” 1 And Joseph, who heard the voice of an angel, took Mary into his home, and hearing the angel again, fled to Egypt. Joseph and Mary knew, deep within their hearts and souls, that they belonged to God.
Fr. John Hardon, the noted Jesuit theologian, reminds us that, “The family is a Divine Creation for a Divine purpose.”2 And that, “Every family comes into existence in order to be a reflection of the Eternal Family: the family of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. 3 In this we note that God is not a solitary being. God is a community. Even the Holy Trinity is a family.
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus knew that their lives were not their own. To belong to God, to be a reflection of the Eternal Family, is the height of sanctity. Regardless of our differences or difficulties, all families can enter more fully into God's grace, if we realize and accept that our lives are not our own, that we, too, belong to God. Every family is created by God – and created for a Divine Purpose.
Parents are the guardians of their families. Fr. Hardon says “If there is one phenomenon that characterizes the modern world … it is the breakdown of family life ... We have the most rampant divorce rate in human history, approaching 100%.“ Satan, and those that want to enslave us, have already made significant inroads. Social scientists have concluded that “under these conditions America cannot survive.“ 4
Fr. Hardon's recalls Saint Pope John Paul II's words, “the preservation, and on such a large scale the restoration of Christian family life, is necessary for the survival of Christian society.” 5 This is not idle speculation. It is the warning of a Great Pope and Saint. Unless the family is defended, and family life is strengthened, Christian society cannot survive.
The need for transformation is urgent. Families need to strengthen their ties by forming unbreakable bonds of love, respect, commitment, and faith. And we need to bring into our families a more committed and meaningful view of marriage.
Many years ago, I taught in a very poor, predominately black, high school. With a few exceptions, the students were seriously deficient in basic skills. As I overheard their conversations, the reason became clear. They never asked someone where they lived. They always asked, ”Where do you stay?”
Students living with two parents were extremely rare. Most had been passed from one relative to another. When all possibilities were exhausted, many were nabbed by drug dealers, pimps, and violent gangs. Without the bonds of family life, achieving a sense of well-being is almost impossible. And any sort of spiritual life is highly unlikely. So many have been robbed of their potential by the disintegration of the family.
To combat the evils of our society, and restore and protect our families, another transformation is required. We need to begin seeing ourselves not only as belonging to God, but as Soldiers for Christ. We can be silent no longer. We need to combat all of Satan's noise with the truth of holiness, the truth of the Scriptures, and the truth of the Holy Catholic Church. We can no longer hide the light of Christ under a bushel basket. Silence and inaction spell defeat.
Some time ago in an address on communications, Pope Benedict XVI urged all Catholics, and Catholic organizations, to better utilize all forms of media. His request fostered an initial favorable response. But, as a people, as a parish, and as a Church, we have hardly scratched the surface.
To win this war, Christians, as Soldiers for Christ, need to fill our land with the knowledge, love, and spirit of God, and present a compelling vision of faith and family life, a vision completely counter to the fraud, deceit, and violence of the times.
The effects of the deterioration in family life are easily seen. Let me inject a bit of reality into our thinking.
All of these social ills, and many others, are caused, at least in part, by a disintegrating family life and a reduced influence of family life in society.
So, what do these statistics tell us? They tell us, that as Christians and as Soldiers for Christ, we have a lot of work to do, and we need to do it more effectively. It's obvious that our message isn't getting through. It isn't being heard. It isn't changing hearts. It is being drown out by the lures of the world and the seduction of Satan. The victims are many, and the heartbreak is devastating. Unless we can launch a powerful and effective counter-attack, much of what we hold dear may be lost.
What we need is a new and powerful evangelization – one that can reach the hardest hearts. Our methods and message are effective in supporting the faithful, but to be an instrument of change in our world our message must be heard loud and clear outside the parish boundaries, and be persuasive enough to open the hardest of hearts. And solidifying ourselves in knowledge, evangelization strategies and techniques, and solidifying our families in faith, is a good place to start.
In closing, I would ask each of you to discern your mission in this battle for souls, and in this battle for our country. What can you do to bring about positive change? How can we present the message of Christ in a more engaging and effective manner? In what ways can we better train ourselves for the battle? And, we cannot sit on our hands, thinking that this is strictly a job for priests.
This is a battle, but much more, it is a war. If you are committed, if you are effective, you will be attacked. Your opponents will slander you, and even curse your name. But take heart. Wear their insults like a badge of honor. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.6
I can only trust that God is using the current political upheaval to spur our courage, and prompt us to recommit ourselves to our apostolic duties. So, have courage. Remember your calling. As long as we hold high the Staff of the Lord, we will get the better of the fight. You are not alone. You are all disciples. We are a parish family. And, all of us belong to God.