When the soldier is abandoned
In a recent meditation on Christ’s Passion, it became wrenchingly clear that His greatest torments weren’t the excruciating injuries from punches and thorns, His lacerating shoulder wound from the gash of the cross, torso tears from flagellation, or iron spikes plunged through His palms. His greatest sadness was the abandonment and betrayal by those to whom He was closest. He was fighting for their good, and was deserted in turn.
This renders a good soldier’s mission almost insurmountable.
Christ was left alone by 11 of His 12 apostles (two by direct betrayal), and all extended family and home towners except His mother and a few holy women. His mother’s support during His heartbreaking Passion must have been of great comfort to Him. Imagine His relief at seeing her face as He shouldered the crushing cross, exhausted and lampooned. A parent’s affirmation can sustain an inconceivable journey.
We are soldiers on the same mission. What He asks of us, in belief and through our life’s example, is frequently derided and invalidated, not just by nonbelievers – which we’d expect – but by family and friends, colleagues, even other Catholics.
How does it play out? Perhaps like this.
A parish school allows parents to preview an upcoming health presentation for fourth graders, which will include explicit sexual topics. When parents view the production, it’s clear that facets will compromise the innocence of kids; only one or two parents object. The rest go along for fear of appearing paranoid. The objectors are told by teachers they’re “doing their children a disservice,” and kids will be ostracized by classmates if they don’t attend. What’s really at stake – fitting in or safeguarding kids’ purity?
In launching a product campaign, a corporate communications team meets with a TV network it hopes to include in its promotions – for possible commercials, sponsorships, and special events.
The network instead puts the client-company on the defensive by insisting the content of the ads and events include language pertinent to LGBT audiences and programming. Without such affirmative language, there will be no deal. The corporation’s Catholic CEO faces a big decision, which will invite flak either way.
Though the century is different, it’s really the same battle. At the end of the day, are we standing with Christ, or taking flight? There’s one Truth – at home, in our parishes, and in business. If we know what it is and deny it or deem it irrelevant, we’re abandoning Christ all over again.
But the good soldier, when he holds to Truth and perseveres through mutating battle, might be ditched by those who can’t tolerate his style. Others may still ‘Kiss Christ’ and profess their love for Him. But it takes graced fortitude, abiding love for Our Savior, and detachment from human reward to engage heroically on His behalf as authentic Catholics, come what may – whether in risk of relationships, profit, or life itself.
The 14th-century Crusade-fighting French knight, Geoffroi de Charny, proclaimed, “No one can excuse himself in bearing arms in a just cause, whether for his lord or for his lineage, or for himself, or for the Holy Church.”
CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s Editor.