I hear from many sources that we are at war: with Russia threatening to use nuclear armaments against the world. (The U.S. just purchased $290 million in drugs for nuclear emergencies.) We are in a cold war with China, infiltrating our borders with theft of resources and leaving behind viral threats. We are at war with ourselves as a nation, fighting against politicians and others who undermine our own borders and attack the values on which our nation was established. And, of course, we are ever at war with hell’s horde of hideous hangmen wanting to drag us down into the pit of everlasting fire.
I’m rewatching a movie I’ve not seen in quite a while, The Patriot, with Mel Gibson, playing as Benjamin Martin, a peaceful American farmer raising his family in South Carolina in the year 1776. When confronted by his peers to join the oncoming American Revolution from English control, he resists, saying, “I’m a parent, I haven’t got the luxury of principles.” Mr. Martin’s reaction is that his first responsibilities are to his family of seven children. His wife is deceased. What else would a responsible man in his shoes consider? Of course, he later does join the war, and fights valiantly for the cause of liberty. Watch the movie if you wish; it’s pretty good.
So, if, or rather when, war does reach our front doors and penetrate our homes, as it already has with political ideologies of Marxism and Transhumanism, I wonder what our responsibilities and principles will be. My first thought is that we will take care of those under our care: family, friends, neighbors, those in greatest need. As Catholics, of course, we are responsible to the Lord, under the guidance of the Church, even if that Church rocks and sways with confusion over her own battles being fought. And as patriots, we’ll do whatever we can to maintain liberty from tyranny. But my main interest here is to consider “What would Jesus have us do;” this is not a cute bromide from decades past, but a cutting-edge religious question for the moral conscience, now needed more than ever. Would we be readily disposed to open our doors to the homeless, assist the beleaguered, feed the hungry (and not with bread alone), attending to all the corporal and spiritual works of mercy for our neighbor while fitting ourselves in battle arraignment? It wouldn’t hurt at least to consider the question.
Honestly, though, the proposition is almost too large for me to figure. I mean, isn’t that what we’re already doing by working to earn a living, paying taxes, supporting our family, assisting friends, practicing our faith and attending to charity when one has a spare moment? Yes, in part it means all of that, but consider this was already Benjamin Martin’s response--and he found it necessary to rearrange his responsibilities with still greater sacrifice and suffering to fight in the war for independence. There is a time for everything, and when time comes to defend our loved ones, I offer for your consideration the admirable sentiments of Mr. Martin’s son Benedict, who early on enlisted to fight and recorded his thoughts in a simple letter to his brother still at home:
“I envy you, your youth and your distance apart from this cruel conflict of which I am a part. But I consider myself fortunate to be serving the cause of liberty. And though I fear death, each day in prayer I reaffirm my willingness, if necessary, to give my life in its service. Pray for me, but above all, pray for the cause.”
Our cause, of course, yours and mine as Catholic Christians, is that same selfless effort to carry out God’s will that truly makes us free to serve in love Our Lord, family and country.