Thursday, June 14, 2012

Engaging the Battle

I’m getting ready to go on retreat with 50-60 young men this weekend.  They range in age from freshmen in High School to men out of college and in their early years in the work force.  The name of this group is the Knights of the Holy Queen.  We are a group of young men that is consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and striving to live lives of virtue and honor in this crazy world of ours.  Every time I am with this group of young men my faith is renewed and my hope in humanity seems to be restored.  These guys are real.  These guys are far from perfect but the beauty of this group is the perseverance these young men have.  They are not good men because they never fall, rather they are good men because they get back up and keep fighting when they fall.  The whole theme of our retreat this weekend is Engaging in the Battle.  In other words, how can we be men who live in the world and fight for what is true, good, and beautiful in this life.  This is a question that has been on my mind quite a bit lately, especially in light of what is going on in our country and throughout the world.  How do we change and affect this world when it seems like everything that is being thrown at us is in direct opposition to the way we as Catholics are called to live our lives? 
St. Paul says it best in his letter to the Ephesians:

“Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power.  Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, 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.  With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones"(Ephesians 6: 10-18)

We are in a SPIRITUAL battle.  It is very real.  We have no choice but to either engage in it or be defeated by it.  There is no room for sitting on the fence or watching from the sidelines.  Christianity is not a spectator sport.  You are either a varsity starter or a couch potato.  There is no in between when it comes to being a Christian, especially in today’s culture.  But what does this look like practically?  We can’t all be Mother Teresa and John Paul IIs.  We can’t all be good Catholic politicians.  We can preach, protest, and pray but at the end of the day Obama might get re-elected, the HHS mandate pass, and abortion remain legal.  Does that mean that we have failed or lost the battle as Christians?  Absolutely not!  The victory has already been won!  But how do we cooperate with that victory?

Within the first few weeks of my daughter’s birth I was sitting on the couch watching TV and she was sleeping on my lap.  In that moment I came to this new realization:  There is very little I can do about the world as a whole, but what I can do is live my life as an example of holiness for my daughter and raise her to become a great Saint!  That is my contribution to the world.  That is what I am called to!  What an amazing thing.  I can be Mother Theresa to my family, to my students, and to those I encounter.  My Calcutta is my own small circle of people.  So to break it down here is what I believe I am called to do engage in the battle:

Love My God Above All Else:  I have to cultivate a personal relationship with Christ.  He must be my number one every day.  That means taking time to seek Him out and engage in prayer with Him EVERY DAY! 

Love my Wife and family: This is my primary vocation.  I need to die to myself and put the needs of my spouse above my own.  I need to serve her and give my whole heart to her.  I must call her to holiness and lead her to heaven no matter what the cost.  Through this then together we must love our daughter unconditionally and lead her to heaven.  We must form her and raise her in the faith and give her all the tools she needs to become a Saint.  We must to the same with any other children God blesses us with.

Love my students and give them truth: My secondary vocation is to be a teacher.  Not just any teacher, but a teacher of the faith.  This comes with huge responsibilities.  I must love my students unconditionally.  I am called to impart the truth and lead them to encounter Christ in a personal and intimate way.  Through educating and forming them I pray that I can be God’s instrument that plants seeds in them so that they go out and transform the culture.  Maybe I am forming a future Mother Teresa, JP II, or politician. 

Be an example in my own parish and community: If I live my life the best way I can by loving my god, family, and my students then I can pray that witness influences others.  I may not solve world hunger but I can volunteer to help the poor in my community.  I may not convert the Muslims but I might inspire those in my parish or some of my friends to be better Catholics.  The point is that if I simply strive to live in a way that bears witness to Christ in my own circle and corner of the world then I am affecting this world and engaging in the battle.  By being involved in something like the Knights of the Holy Queen God could be using me to impact more lives than I could ever imagine. 

I need to stop worrying about the outcome of elections and the larger problems in our world in a way that causes me to get distracted about the things I CAN do right in front of me.  This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be informed or not vote, or not care about those problems it simply means that my role in solving those problems starts with doing the things that I mentioned above.  As Mother Teresa said if you want to change the world, “Go home and start loving your families!”

So I’m heading on retreat this weekend and praying that God uses me and the others involved to affect some lives that will then in turn affect the culture and world we live in.  Please pray for us!  Let us find the battles we can fight and win and not worry about the ones we can’t.  That my friends will lead to being on the winning side when the war comes to an end!

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