The Church Militant

by Dennis Montecillo

In modern times, the word “militant” can suggest an antagonistic relationship between the Church and the world, and in an environment of “why-can’t-we-just-all-get-along”, appears to strike a contrast against the image of a welcoming, inclusive Church.

But the militant position that the teaching suggests – specially as contrasted with the Church Penitent and the Church Triumphant – is a focus not against each other, but rather on the authentic reality that our struggle is against the imperfect and sinful dimensions of human experience.

G. K. Chesterton, one of my favorite Christian writers, saw original sin as the one Christian doctrine that is empirically verifiable and validated by 3,500 years of human history. One only needs to look at the world around us to find innumerable examples of this.

Now that we know what we are fighting (and, by inference, who is behind it), what do we have to fight with? In a word: PRAYER. Lots of it.
In Exodus 17:8-13, the Israelites found themselves in pitched battle against the Amalekites. Moses found that as long as he kept his raised hands above his head, the Israelites had the better of the fight. But Moses grew tired, so Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on each side.

So here we see an example of Moses interceding for the Israelites doing battle against the Amalekites, and, in turn, Aaron and Hur “interceding” for Moses by supporting his hands – in effect, permitting Moses to continue to pray for those doing battle for the nation of Israel. This is such a wonderful metaphor of the power of intercessory prayer and the need for community support.
May our eyes be opened to our continuing struggle and our hearts uplifted to the comfort of prayer and the encouragement of community!

As published in the November 13 issue of the Parish Bulletin.

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