My children, we are here to conquer or die. In death or in victory, you will win immortality.
Don Juan of Austria to his sailors and troops prior to the battle of Lepanto
One of the more distressing aspects of contemporary Catholicism is the transformation from the Church Militant to the Church Mushy. Catholicism did not survive for twenty tumultuous centuries by being a religion for lukewarm cowards. Father Z explains what the Church Militant is for the benefit of poorly educated, in the Faith, Catholics who probably comprise a majority of the members of the Church these days:
I post this because our dear Michael Sean Winters had a little nutty about my use of this term over at the Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter).
All of you Catholics who are reading this, even if you mostly identify with the dissenters at the Fishwrap, are members of the Church Militant, the Ecclesia Militans.
“Militant” is a scary word for libs (keep that paper bag handy) because it looks like the English word “military” (which must be a bad thing to belong to).
Militant comes from Latin milito, “to be a soldier, to perform military service”. Note, “service”.
As a Catholic who is militans, “militant”, that means that we dedicate ourselves with obedience and zeal to the role we are given in life through our calling and through our talents and good inclinations, our vocations in life. It means that we are also prepared to fight the enemy wherever and whenever threats to the salvation of our own souls and our neighbor’s souls present themselves. It means working together as units and not as individuals merely. It means good conditioning and through drills in knowing well our Catholic Faith and practicing virtues and discipline in the use of the Sacraments. It means submission to the Church’s teaching authority and her duly ordaining pastors. It means fidelity, loyalty and even a willingness to die.
I now urge the Fishwrap types to have at hand a paper bag they can breathe into.
The Church Militant is made up of the living, we who are still on pilgrimage through this vale of tears, as the Salve Regina describes our earthly life. The whole Church can be described as having three main kinds of membership, namely, those who are still alive here on Earth, those who are in an earthly sense dead but who live in Heaven (the Church Triumphant) and those who have died but who are, during their time of purification in Purgatory, awaiting their entrance into Heaven (the Church Suffering or Penitent). These three are united, in one Holy Church, in a common “communion of saints”, even though we of the Church Militant often aren’t very saintly.
Church Militant is a common and traditional way to describe the living members of the Church. For example, find it used as a hinge pin in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Even though the Catechism of the Catholic Church 954 doesn’t explicitly use the terms Militant, Suffering and Triumphant, the concepts are clearly there when it describes the membership of the Church:
The three states of the Church. “When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating ‘in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is”‘
That paragraph in the CCC quotes Lumen gentium 49; Mt 25:31 (which describes the separation of the blessed from the damned); 1 Cor 15:26-27 (which describes the ultimate triumph of God at the end of things); and the Council of Florence (1439) in DS 1305. I will add that LG 43, on religious institutes, uses the phrase “militia Christi” to describe the support given by religious families to Church.
The old Catechism of St. Pius X uses the tripartite division, describing the Church Militant as the Church to which we actually belong. Of course, you have to know that “actually” means “now”, and not loose English “really”.
In the Baltimore Catechism, in its explanation of the articles of the Creed, we find a great description
“The communion of saints:”
There are three parts in the Church. We have, first, the Church Militant, i.e., the fighting Church, made up of all the faithful upon earth, who are still fighting for their salvation. [The catholic Left, the Fishwrap types, are going to hate that description because of the implication that not everyone is saved (except for those meanies who don’t want to redistribute wealth or approve of sex with just about any carbon-based life form] The Holy Scripture tells us our life upon earth is a warfare. [Get that bag if you need it! Then check 1 Tim 6:12: “Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Then check 2 Cor 10: 3-5: “For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Yes. We have enemies.] We have three enemies to fight. First, the devil, who by every means wishes to keep us out of Heaven-the place he once enjoyed himself The devil knows well the happiness of Heaven, and does not wish us to have what he cannot have himself; just as you sometimes see persons who, through their own fault, have lost their situation trying to keep others out of it. [The devil has earthly agents, even within the Church. Think of, for example, the horrid example of priests who harm children and also writers in the catholic media who consistently deceive souls and undermine the faith and good discipline of the Church by promoting dissent.]
Our second enemy is the world. This does not mean the earth with all its beauty and riches, but the bad people in the world with their false doctrines; [See above.] some telling us there is no God, Heaven, or Hell, others that we should pay no attention to the teaching of the Church or the laws of God, and advising us by word and example to resist our lawful superiors in Church or State and give free indulgence to our sinful passions. [I have the impression that the catholic Left’s agenda is mainly focused on sex. When they perceive that something is a threat to their own desires, they attack it. Of course they will attack any traditional expression of the Faith, because worship and doctrine are inextricably intertwined.]
The third enemy is our own flesh. [See above] By this we mean our concupiscence, that is, our passions, evil inclinations, and propensity to do wrong. When God first created man, the soul was always master over the body, and the body obedient to the soul. After Adam sinned, the body rebelled against the soul and tried to lead it into sin. The body is the part of our nature that makes us like the brute animals, while the soul makes us like to God and the angels.
When we sin, it is generally to satisfy the body craving for what it has not, or for that which is forbidden. Why did God leave this concupiscence in us? He left it, first, to keep us humble, by reminding us of our former sins, and, secondly, that we might overcome it and have a reward for the victory. [Yes, its a war and, as Christians, we are soldiers on the march.]