We are the Church militant
In traditional Catholic teaching, the Church has three states — the Church triumphant, the Church penitent, and the Church militant. The Church triumphant refers to those in heaven, penitent: souls in purgatory, and militant: us, the soldiers responsible for defending the Church on earth.
Just after this article is published, our beloved United States will decide who is to lead us for the next four years. Regardless of who is elected, we as Catholics have our work cut out for us as the Church militant. There’s a popular saying in the Marine Corps that states: “We don’t promise you a rose garden.” Likewise, we, as children of God and ambassadors for the Church, were never told this life would be easy. Rather, we were promised trials and tribulations, temptations and challenges.
As ambassadors and as the Church militant, we’re called to live out our faith publicly and courageously. To accomplish this, we must be in a state of sanctifying grace. We cannot receive the amount of grace needed to fulfill this mission if we’ve separated ourselves from God by our sins. The reason our founder structured Legatus chapter events to begin with the sacrament of Confession is because we are in a battle — a battle for our soul and a battle for all souls. Our most important mission as both the Church militant and as Legatus members is to get to heaven and to bring as many with us as possible.
We must take this mission seriously as Christ’s warriors on earth and fight for our ground, our country and our Church. We look to saints for guidance. In Tertullian’s famous work Apologeticus, he wrote: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” So as we move forward in our own seemingly untenable situation, we must focus on what matters: the salvation of our souls and those of the people around us.
In this month of November when we honor our veterans, let us keep all veterans — past, present and future — in our hearts and prayers. To my fellow Legatus Marines: Happy 241st birthday to the Marine Corps and Semper Fidelis! May we all draw strength from our one journey as the Church militant to press on toward the day when we hope to join the victorious ranks of the Church triumphant.
STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.