Christian spiritual combat, peace amid the struggle, joy in destitution when everything is broken and taken away: These images are too warlike, some say to us, and in any case, they only apply to bygone ages or reactionary people.
But we, in our turn, tell them, how long must you wait before you see, that in the Church militant, everyone, without exception, participates in the battle?
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves… I have come to bring a sword… In this world you will have persecutions… Know that the world will hate you.”
Since when do these words of the Master not apply equally to each of the faithful:
— to the cloistered sister, as they do to the missionary;
— to the monk in his monastery, as they do to the parish priest in his parish;
— to the Christian laden down with temporal duties, as they do to the old man lying on his death bed.
We just need to say that the combat training and methods used are not the same for, say, missionaries as they are for enclosed religious. It would be absurd, even disastrous, to think they might be interchangeable:
* Thus it is that the missionary must spend enough time looking at Our Lord to then be able to uncompromisingly preach His word, in that way giving up his life for his flock.
* An enclosed nun’s duty, on the other hand, is to keep her eyes solely on Our Lord, without being occupied with holy preaching, leaving the Lord to place on her shoulders whatever burden He pleases, and for reasons known to Him alone; that’s the way a religious gives her life for the flock. But she does still give up her life. No one is exempt.
The troops are different yet again, and their method of combat is different, but they are nevertheless combat troops and the orders are always the same. “Do not surrender the position that has been entrusted to you by the King.”
Hermit or preaching friar, mother of a family, or virgin consecrated to God living out in the world, each has been given a position to guard, and for each the primary duty is to die at his or her post, rather than surrender the position entrusted to them by the King of Kings.