Fight Soldier of Christ! Be Holy and Fight!
Alexandra Clark | The Daily Knight
In these times of great chaos, corruption and concern, what, as Soldiers of Christ, is our command? What is God's marching orders? What is His Will?
As God Himself lovingly urges us: "Be perfect as also your heavenly Father is perfect," Matthew 5:48.
"This is the Will of God, your sanctification," 1 Thessa. 4:3.
Oh how Good God is!!! He tells us clearly that we are all called to become saints. No matter what day, what century, what part of the world we live in, it is the same call. And He wouldn't command such a thing if it were not possible, even if it would seem impossible to us in our day.
For if we doubt that we could become a saint, when God asks us to be a saint, then are we not telling God that what He asks of us is impossible?
Therefore, how are we today, to strive to be a saint? And what does it mean to be a saint?
The great St. Thomas Aquinas was once asked the question, "What does one have to do to be a saint?" He responded that it takes three things. One, you must desire to be a saint. Two, you must desire it and three, you must desire it!!!!
Desiring to be a saint is very important. In other words, it is directing our will power to want and desire to be a saint, and know that without that desire, you will never reach that goal because you certainly won't be made a saint by accident.
God has given us the means and grace to be a saint but we have to want it, desire it, and take action towards it.
Therefore, being perfect as Our Heavenly Father is perfect is possible if we desire it and want it.
Definition of what a saint is:
The saint is one in whom God lives. "Deus Charitas Est!" Just as God is Love, so thus the saint is one in Who the Love of God reigns. It is that simple. A saint is in Love with God and is united to Him in that life Pure Love!
What can better define a saint than this, a continual gift of self from a motive of love! As soon as the Father's will was made known to Christ, He at once fulfilled it through Love. Love of the Father and Love of us. It was His meat to accomplish in everything the Father's will, for Love of His father and for our redemption.
In other words from an anonymous Carmelite: “Holiness is a hidden treasure, an intimate reign—the reign of God within us; holiness is nothing but Love for God Who is Charity.”
Thus, the saint tries to act in all things as Christ would do. Saints act as Christ would do in our place. And this is by no means a fiction, it is a reality. Saints are, "other Christs," and thus we must fulfill the rule of love demanded by this beautiful title: Christian.
The very definition of Christian means that we are of Christ, following and living all that He did and taught.
How will they know that we are of Christ, that we are Christians? In the Gospel it says:
"By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another." [John 13:35]
We only have love if we get it from the source of the one Who is Love and gives Love and that is God alone. Our union with Him makes us love too! What a wonderful mystery of such goodness and grace!
If we are persecuted or mocked today, for aiming to be a saint, then so be it! As St. Paul says, let us be fools of Christ! And St. Paul further says: “Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or danger? or persecution? or the sword?...For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 8:35-39).
St. John the Beloved also confirms this fortitude by adding: "And he that feareth, is not perfected in charity." -1 John 4:18.
Thus, to be a brave soldier of Christ, we must have no fear and do all things in His Love and for His Love! We must “Labour as a good soldier of Christ Jesus,” (2 Timothy 2:3).
How is it that we become holy?
"O my God, make a saint of me, whatever the cost to self may be, because Thou art Omnipotent."
“God commandeth what You will but giveth that which you command,” St. Augustine.
God is constantly giving us graces to become His saints. And how intense is that Love He wishes to pour into our hearts. YET, it is only in the degree that we have prepared to receive those graces that will determine how much we actually get. Our cooperation and desire are important, as we spoke of above.
Just as bigger the cup the more it can hold. Our heart is made bigger the purer it is. Jesus, said that “If you Love Me, keep My Commandments.” That is the way to be Holy, for Christ is the way the truth and the life! He wants to give it to you, He wants to fill you with the greatest Love, but only those pure in Heart shall see God! Only those that want it and desire those graces will receive them. Let us then in a similar prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori, pray to be great reservoirs that God can fill to overflowing! Let us prepare our heart! Be humble recognizing our sinfulness and weakness. Let us desire to be devout, genuine, good and holy! God will give us the means to be perfect! We just have to go to the source of those graces which God has set up to give us in the Holy Sacraments, especially in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!!!!!
St. Pius X said it only would take ONE Holy Communion to make us a saint!
As this Liturgical year is coming to an end, let us recall the great words Pope Leo said on Christmas day 1888, and which still apply to us today:
This year, which is now coming to an end, has given, as we have said, many signs of a reviving faith. Would that like the spark it might grow to an ever-increasing flame, which, by burning up the roots of sin, may open a way for the restoration of morals and for salutary counsels. We…fix Our mind and heart upon the Divine Pilot Who holds the helm and sits unseen. Thou seest, Lord, how the winds have borne down on every side, how the sea rages and the waves are lashed to fury. Command, we beseech Thee, Who alone canst, the winds and the sea. Give back to man that tranquillity and order-that true peace which the world cannot give. By Thy grace let man be restored to proper order with faith in God, as in duty bound, with justice and love towards our neighbor, with temperance as to ourselves, and with passions controlled by reason. Let Thy kingdom come, let the duty of submitting to Thee and serving Thee be learnt by those who, far from Thee, seek truth and salvation to no purpose. In Thy laws there is justice and fatherly kindness; Thou grantest of Thy own good will the power to keep them. The life of a man on earth is a warfare, but Thou lookest down upon the struggle and helpest man to conquer, Thou raisest him that falls, and crownest him that triumphs.
Let us be holy and fight the good fight! Earth is a warfare and we are the Church Militant. I close with a few more noteworthy excepts from what Pope Leo said earlier in his letter on Christmas day which urges us to fight the Good fight as Soldiers of God for “it is our duty to run to the fight proposed to us,”:
We wish to address all Christians, and in homely words to exhort all to lead a holy life. For beyond the mere name of Christian, beyond the mere profession of faith, Christian virtues are necessary for the Christian, and upon this depends, not only the eternal salvation of their souls, but also the peace and prosperity of the human family and brotherhood....
If We look into the kind of life men lead everywhere, it would be impossible to avoid the conclusion that public and private morals differ much from the precepts of the Gospel. Too sadly, alas, do the words of the Apostle St. John apply to our age, "all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes and the pride of life." For in truth, most men, with little care whence they come or whither they go, place all their thoughts and care upon the weak and fleeting goods of this life; contrary to nature and right reason they willingly give themselves up to those ways of which their reason tells them they should be the masters. It is a short step from the desire of luxury to the striving after the means to obtain it. Hence arises an unbridled greed for money, which blinds those whom it has led captive, and in the fulfilment of its passion hurries them madly along, often without regard for justice or injustice, and not seldom accompanied by a disgraceful contempt for the poverty of their neighbour. Thus many who live in the lap of luxury call themselves brethren of the multitude whom in their heart of hearts they despise; and in the same way with minds puffed up by pride, they take no thought to obey any law, or fear any power. They call self love liberty, and think themselves "born free like a wild ass's colt. " Snares and temptation to sin abound; We know that impious or immoral dramas are exhibited on the stage; that books and journals are written to jeer at virtue and ennoble crime; that the very arts, which were intended to give pleasure and proper recreation, have been made to minister to impurity….
Nor can We look to the future without fear, for new seeds of evil are sown, and as it were poured into the heart of the rising generation. As for the public schools, there is no ecclesiastical authority left in them, and in the years when it is most fitting for tender minds to be trained carefully in Christian virtue, the precepts of religion are for the most part unheard. Men more advanced in age encounter a yet graver peril from evil teaching, which is of such a kind as to blind the young by misleading words, instead of filling them with the knowledge of the truth. Many now-a-days seek to learn by the aid of reason alone, laying divine faith entirely aside; and, through the removal of its bright light, they stumble and fail to discern the truth, teaching for instance, that matter alone exists in the world; that men and beasts have the same origin and a like nature; there are some, indeed, who go so far as to doubt the existence of God, the Ruler and Maker of the World, or who err most grievously, like the heathens, as to the nature of God. Hence the very nature and form of virtue, justice, and duty are of necessity destroyed. Thus it is that while they hold up to admiration the high authority of reason, and unduly elevate the subtlety of the human intellect, they fall into the just punishment of pride through ignorance of what is of more importance….
When the mind has thus been poisoned, at the same time the moral character becomes deeply and essentially corrupted; and such a state can only be cured with the utmost difficulty in this class of men, because on the one hand wrong opinions vitiate their judgment of what is right, and on the other the light of Christian faith, which is the principle and basis of all justice, is extinguished…
In this way We daily see the numerous ills which afflict all classes of men. These poisonous doctrines have utterly corrupted both public and private life; rationalism, materialism, atheism, have begotten socialism, communism, nihilism evil principles which it was not only fitting should have sprung from such parentage but were its necessary offspring...
Now the whole essence of a Christian life is to reject the corruption of the world and to oppose constantly any indulgence in it; this is taught in the words and deeds, the laws and institutions, the life and death of Jesus Christ, "the author and finisher of faith." Hence, however strongly We are deterred by the evil disposition of nature and character, it is our duty to run to the "fight proposed to us," fortified and armed with the same desire and the same arms as He who, "having joy set before him, endured the cross." Wherefore let men understand this specially, that it is most contrary to Christian duty to follow, in worldly fashion, pleasures of every kind, to be afraid of the hardships attending a virtuous life, and to deny nothing to self that soothes and delights the senses. "They that are Christ's, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences"(8)so that it follows that they who are not accustomed to suffering, and who hold not ease and pleasure in contempt belong not to Christ. By the infinite goodness of God man lived again to the hope of an immortal life, from which he had been cut off, but he cannot attain to it if he strives not to walk in the very footsteps of Christ and conform his mind to Christ's by the meditation of Christ's example. Therefore this is not a counsel but a duty, and it is the duty, not of those only who desire a more perfect life, but clearly of every man "always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus."(9) How otherwise could the natural law, commanding man to live virtuously, be kept? For by holy baptism the sin which we contracted at birth is destroyed, but the evil and tortuous roots of sin, which sin has engrafted, and by no means removed. This part of man which is without reason - although it cannot beat those who fight manfully by Christ's grace - nevertheless struggles with reason for supremacy, clouds the whole soul and tyrannically bends the will from virtue with such power that we cannot escape vice or do our duty except by a daily struggle. "This holy synod teaches that in the baptized there remains concupiscence or an inclination to evil, which, being left to be fought against, cannot hurt those who do not consent to it, and manfully fight against it by the grace of Jesus Christ; for he is not crowned who does not strive lawfully."(10) There is in this struggle a degree of strength to which only a very perfect virtue, belonging to those who, by putting to flight evil passions, has gained so high a place as to seem almost to live a heavenly life on earth. Granted; grant that few attain such excellence; even the philosophy of the ancients taught that every man should restrain his evil desires, and still more and with greater care those who from daily contact with the world have the greater temptations - unless it be foolishly thought that where the danger is greater watchfulness is less needed, or that they who are more grievously ill need fewer medicines.
But the toil which is borne in this conflict is compensated by great blessings, beyond and above heavenly and eternal rewards, particularly in this way, that by calming the passions nature is largely restored to its pristine dignity. For man has been born under this law, that the mind should rule the body, that the appetites should be restrained by sound sense and reason; and hence it follows that putting a curb upon our masterful passions is the noblest and greatest freedom. Moreover, in the present state of society it is difficult to see what man could be expected to do without such a disposition. Will he be inclined to do well who has been accustomed to guide his actions by self-love alone? No man can be high-souled, kind, merciful, or restrained, who has not learnt self conquest and a contempt for this world when opposed to virtue. And yet it must be said that it seems to have been pre-determined by the counsel of God that there should be no salvation to men without strife and pain. Truly, though God has given to man pardon for sin, He gave it under the condition that His only begotten Son should pay the due penalty; and although Jesus Christ might have satisfied divine justice in other ways, nevertheless He preferred to satisfy by the utmost suffering and the sacrifice of His life...
Thus he has imposed upon His followers this law, signed in His blood, that their life should be an endless strife with the vices of the age. What made the apostles invincible in their mission of teaching truth to the world; what strengthened the martyrs innumerable in their bloody testimony to the Christian faith, but the readiness of their soul to obey fearlessly His laws? And all who have taken heed to live a Christian life and seek virtue have trodden the same path; therefore We must walk in this way if We desire either Our own salvation or that of others. Thus it becomes necessary for every one to guard manfully against the allurements of luxury, and since on every side there is so much ostentation in the enjoyment of wealth, the soul must be fortified against the dangerous snares of riches lest straining after what are called the good things of life, which cannot satisfy and soon fade away, the soul should lose "the treasure in heaven which faileth not." Finally, this is matter of deep grief, that free-thought and evil example have so evil an influence in enervating the soul, that many are now almost ashamed of the name of Christian - a shame which is the sign either of abandoned wickedness or the extreme of cowardice; each detestable and each of the highest injury to man. For what salvation remains for such men, or on what hope can they rely, if they cease to glory in the name of Jesus Christ, if they openly and constantly refuse to mold their lives on the precepts of the gospel? It is the common complaint that the age is barren of brave men. Bring back a Christian code of life, and thereby the minds of men will regain their firmness and constancy. But man's power by itself is not equal to the responsibility of so many duties…
We must ask God for daily bread for the sustenance of the body, so must We pray to Him for strength of soul for its nourishment in virtue. Hence that universal condition and law of life, which We have said is a perpetual battle, brings with it the necessity of prayer to God. For, as is well and wisely said by St. Augustine, pious prayer flies over the world's barriers and calls down the mercy of God from heaven. In order to conquer the emotions of lust, and the snares of the devil, lest we should be led into evil, we are commanded to seek the divine help in the words, "pray that ye enter not into temptation." How much more is this necessary, if we wish to labour for the salvation of others? Christ our Lord, the only begotten Son of God, the source of all grace and virtue, first showed by example what he taught in word: "He passed the whole night in the prayer of God," and when nigh to the sacrifice of his life, "He prayed the longer."
The frailty of nature would be much less fearful, and the moral character would grow weak and enervated with much less ease if that divine precept were not so much disregarded and treated almost with disdain. For God is easily appeased, and desires to aid men, having promised openly to give His grace in abundance to those who ask for it. Nay, He even invites men to ask, and almost insists with most loving words: "I say unto you, ask and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you….”
For nothing has so great a power as prayer, because in it there are certain qualities with which it pleases God to be moved. For in prayer we separate ourselves from things of earth, and filled with the thought of God alone, we become aware of our human weakness; for the same reason we rest in the embrace of our Father, we seek a refuge in the power of our Creator. We approach the Author of all good, as though we wish Him to gaze upon our weak souls, our failing strength, our poverty; and, full of hope, we implore His aid and guardianship, Who alone can give help to the weak and consolation to the infirm and miserable. With such a condition of mind, thinking but little of ourselves, as is fitting, God is greatly inclined to mercy, for God resisteth the proud, but to the humble he giveth grace.
Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, so that we fight as a good soldier of Christ Jesus, Loving God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength, and pray for us at the hour of our death, that we may persevere and die as a saint, having fought the good fight and win the race!