We may associate warriors as enlisted men, cavaliers, gladiators, and soldiers. But there are unlikely heroes and warriors in history, the saints. A number of them braved the impossible for the glory of God. Their life’s decisions may be insane for today’s knowing-all-but-lacks-wisdom world.
Saint Augustine said that: “Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure: where your treasure, there your heart; where your heart, there your happiness”. This was the driving force for these warriors of God to have a clear trajectory of finding the kingdom of God. Let’s hear some examples why these warriors of God are very much worth emulating.
The Power of Obedience
Obedience may be the mother of all virtue, from the old testament, we can read how the patriarchs and prophets have so much trust in God. Abraham were asked by God to offer his only son. But he did obey. Moses was called by God to free his people from the bondage of Egypt. An almost impossible feat for our understanding, to be asked to demand a reigning power to release its slaves. But he did obey. St. Joseph, foster father to Our Lord Jesus heed the messages of God thru dreams and angels to protect and secure the Holy family from great dangers during the nativity of Jesus. He obeyed and acted fast.
A good warrior will always follow order from the goodness of his superior. But to receive a message from God or a God-sent messenger is an entirely different level. Take the case of the children of Fatima, Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto with Lucia dos Santos, received the message of Fatima. The three of them have to carry the weight of these messages and put their family in great distress. It was months of anxious wait and judgement the children received from the people around them.
The deafness of St. Joan of Arc was never a hindrance to follow a voice from heaven to save France and help France’s rightful heir be crowned. Her obedience was inspired, she may be an illiterate 13-year old French peasant girl, but that did not stop her to led an army at 18 to fulfill a message from heaven.
Bernadette Soubirous was chosen by Our Lady to relay a message for a chapel to be built in Lourdes, France. She obeyed. She had to face humiliations and suspicions at the age of 14. A brave act for a message to be sent out of obedience. Saints Jacinta, Francisco, Lucia*, Joan and Bernadette just barely became teens and yet their obedience were extraordinary. Today’s generation may take it as something impossible and illogical to do. But the Holy Spirit knows the purity of intentions of these chosen children. God was with them.
(*Lucia dos Santos is yet to be beatified or canonized, but this writer believe that she is with the other children of Fatima in heaven. Our Lady herself said that she would take the other two first, Jacinta and Francisco, a significant point that she would follow when the time comes.)
Like a true warrior of God, they followed without hesitation, no complaints and no conditions. They accepted the instructions and braved to complete the mission. There were odds and the challenges were very personal. But they took action, that was obedience.
Brave the Storm
A good warrior will brave the storm and will never quit.
In order not to quit one needs to be strong. To be strong means to be brave in order to face the storm and challenges in life’s battle.
Most saints had shown courageous acts of charity and hope. We can write endless names of saints who bravely fought for their faith and for other people. Many martyrs died and fought emperors who persecuted early Christians. Missionaries, catechists and Christian converts were martyred in their countries for professing their faith. They breathe life in their journey and made a mark for their brave efforts for God.
St. Ignatius of Loyola’s order of the Jesuits led the Counter-Reformation in the 16th century. He was a soldier who was injured and found the fire to serve God and do missionary work. His order of the Society of Jesus organized Catholic education and missionary work. Fellow Jesuits like St. Francis Xavier evangelized in unfamiliar countries like Japan and India. St. Peter Claver help alleviate the agony of slaves in Cartagena. His apostolate and care for the people were prominent and baptized approximately 300,000 slaves during his ministry. To face the tide against slavery during those times were surely not easy. St Peter Canisius, also a Jesuit, acted like a secret agent as he carry important documents from the Council of Trent. Messengers like Peter from the Catholic church were prevented by aggressive Protestant followers to have these important documents sent. And so he smuggle those decrees to be sent to all of bishops in Europe.
The order of Jesuits and its holy men and missionaries made sacrifices and endured the struggles to help strengthen the Catholic church and its members. A brave act of love for God to discover unfamiliar territories to preach and do missionary work and education.
Jan Sobieski, King of Poland saved the whole of Europe from the possible defeat from the Ottomans in the great Battle of Vienna in 1683. It was a desperate situation as no help was coming for Vienna, but King Jan responded with the aid of prayer and pilgrimage to the shrine of Virgin of Czestochowa. He was quick to respond and swept down more than 300,000 Ottomans and successfuly won even with a smaller number of Polish army. Bravely led them to victory and humbly offering the victory to Our Lady.
Like a true warrior of God, they acted without hesitation, no complaints and no conditions. They knew the odds but they knew the goal was for the greater glory of God. The Lord is with us as written in Deutronomy 31:6, “Do manfully and be of good heart: fear not, nor be ye dismayed at their sight: for the Lord thy God he himself is thy leader, and will not leave thee nor forsake thee.”
Warrior of Love, Warrior of God
A warrior always serves a master, a leader or a superior. Its loyalty, dedication and action serves a purpose. Its action comes from his innate kindness that is inspired. There were many saints who have great devotion to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They would even sacrifice their life to protect the Holy Eucharist.
Take the case of St. Tarcisius, a young boy who offered to take the Holy Eucharist during the Christian persecution of Emperor Valerian. He was suspected by young Roman teens carrying something on his chest. He was stoned and beaten but he remained steadfast protecting the Eucharist to his death.
San Pedro de Jesus Maldonado of Mexico dedicatedly performed his ministry despite the Christian persecution by his government. He was arrested from his hiding place and was beaten up and fractured his skull. The day before he was almost beaten to death he offered his life to end the Christian persecution but prayed he would be able to receive Communion before his death. San Pedro performed his duty with love and fervor like a true warrior of God.
“Hear Mass daily; it will prosper the whole day. All your duties will be performed the better for it, and your soul will be stronger to bear its daily cross. The Mass is the most holy act of religion; you can do nothing that can give greater glory to God or be more profitable for your soul than to hear Mass both frequently and devoutly. It is the favorite devotion of the saints.”, a great reminder from St. Peter Julian Eymard.
He founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament. His advocacy was to encourage people to frequent Holy Communion. He started working with children in preparing them receive their First Holy Communion, and worked incessantly to bring back people non-practicing Catholics who have lost time to the devotion. St. Peter proved to many with his works and journey as a warrior of God.
St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta embraced the abandoned people. Her Missionaries of Charity took care and served the poorest of the poor. The neglected ones she embraced and dedicated her life to make sure that they feel the love of God. “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”, she said. She was a warrior with great love in her mission that her good deeds were known around the world.
Just like any warrior, her struggles of realities in helping the poor were many. But her faith was steady, “Do not allow yourselves to be disheartened by any failure as long as you have done your best.”, said the saint. Just like any warrior in battle she fought like a true warrior of love.
St. Roch, patron saint of plagues and contagious diseases, served many communities in Italy and other plague-stricken areas, curing them by making the sign of the cross. Before that he already gave away his fortune to those in need. The poor and the sick he gave his time and effort to serve and heal them with the grace of God. He was quick to serve even when he himself was stricken with the plague like a true warrior of love.
Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends, (John 15:13). That is what St. Maximillan Kolbe did in the German death camp in Auschwitz during the Second World War. He was arrested but just like a true sheperd brought solace to his fellow inmates in prison. Until he offered to die in exchange of a stranger, offered the gift of life for another like a true warrior of love.
Like a true warrior of God, they acted without hesitation, no complaints and no conditions. They spread the gospel of Our Lord with their comforting wisdom and words to their neighbor. St. Benedict once said, “No one should follow what he considers to be good for himself, but rather what seems good for another. Let them put Christ before all else; and may he lead us all to everlasting life.” Their actions and genuine resolutions were acts of a true warrior of love a warrior of God.