Friday, June 06, 2008

Bishop Blair: "The Church Militant"

Toledo Bishop Leonard P. Blair writes in the June issue of The Catholic Chronicle:
The church militant

Written by Leonard P. Blair, Bishop of Toledo
Friday, 06 June 2008

When I was a seminarian many years ago, amid the social and religious turmoil of the 1960s, some people rejected the New Testament’s language of spiritual warfare to describe the Christian life. Anything that hinted of combat or violence had to give way to “peace and love,” even in the spiritual realm. However, if this viewpoint were to prevail, a significant element of the New Testament would be discarded. In the end, it is always better to let God’s word challenge us, rather than thinking that the time has come for us to change the Bible to suit ourselves.

Amid all the trials and turmoil of history, including today, even in our own diocese, it is important to remember that the life of the church is not one of unruffled calm or of peace and triumph.

The peace that Christ gives is not of this world. He comes “not to bring peace, but a sword.” (Mt 10: 34) Jesus is the strong one who came to overthrow the prince of this world (Mt 12:27ff; Lk 11:18ff). The conflict which Jesus waged against Satan and the world of sin is one that will be prolonged until the end of time, both in the church and in the life of every believer. Indeed, in “the last times” the conflict is destined to grow in subtlety, brutality and intensity.

Christ is already the conqueror of the world and the Lord of history. Only when He comes again, however, will all evil be definitively cast into hell, and perfect peace reign supreme. In the meantime, those who believe in Christ are exposed to the hatred of the world (Jn 15:18-21). The church collectively endures the assaults of the powers of a sinful world in league with the evil one.

Individually, each Christian wages a spiritual battle, not using human violence or worldly tactics, which Jesus renounced, but relying on the power of God. It is when we become totally poor and powerless in the eyes of the world, as Jesus did on the cross, that we are spiritually powerful. A severely ill or disabled person, uniting his or her sufferings to Christ, can be a real “prayer warrior,” and whenever we fight evil with good, even to the point of martyrdom, we are truly conquerors.

I said earlier that to reject these images would be a distortion of God’s word, but there also needs to be a note of caution. God can bring good out of evil, and the scourge of war can bring out the best in people and bond them together, but war is always ugly and hard. No one hates war more than those who have actually had to fight one on the front line, and have stared its horrors in the face.

To speak of spiritual warfare is to speak of hard things too: of death to self, of discipline, the patient endurance of moral and physical sufferings that result from original sin, of temptations and trials, and the carrying of the cross. Although victory is assured in Christ, there are many casualties, many wounded in the conflict, which rages not only in the world, but also in the church. Jesus warned us of scandals, failures, of hirelings, false teachers, of houses that collapse and of seeds that wither and die...

[Read the whole thing]
(emphasis added)

My Comments:
Another outstanding column by our beloved Bishop.

Ironically, I've been told that Bishop Blair doesn't allow the Knights of Columbus, when donned in full regalia, to carry their swords during Masses or other events at the Cathedral (when Aidan and I attended the Red Mass at the Cathedral last Fall, Aidan asked why the Knights weren't carrying swords; I asked my Grand Knight about it later, and that was the answer he gave).

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Bishop Blair Composed Holy Spirit Novena

Bishop Blair: "Reflecting on Pope Benedict and the Seeds of Hope"

Bishop Blair: "Come Holy Spirit"

Bishop Blair: "Truly Grave Moral Reasons" and "Serious Moral Soul-Searching" Before "Could Be Morally Permissible" to Vote for Pro-Abortion Candidate

Bishop Blair: "Lent 2008: ‘Lord, Teach Us to Pray’ "

Bishop Blair: "The World is Not Enough"

Bishop Blair: "Peace on Earth, in Communities, Homes"

Bishop Blair Urges Toledo-Area Catholics to Reject Domestic-Partner Registry

Bishop Blair: "Listening to Our Mother"

"How a Shepherd Speaks"

Bishop Blair: "A Dialogue of Truth and Love"

Bishop Blair: "Upholding the Bond of Love" (Part 3)

Bishop Blair: "Upholding the Bond of Love" (Part 2)

Bishop Blair: "Upholding the Bond of Love"

Bishop Blair: "The Gospel of Life Revisited"

Bishop Blair: "Building Your House on a Rock"

Meeting the Bishop - After Action Report

Bishop Blair Teaches: "And With Your Spirit"

Bishop Blair: "What God Joins Together"

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