by: Sister Isabelle, O.C.D.
Has it crossed your mind that what we are experiencing these days is similar to what it was like to live during a World War? The “greatest” generation of those who lived through the Second World War has much to speak to us of the unity, courage, and sacrifice that bore the fruit of victory and freedom for us all. In Winston Churchill’s June 4, 1940 address We Shall Fight on the Beaches, he says to his fellow Englishmen: “I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm…”.
Churchill continues on, speaking of the oneness of purpose, not only of his countrymen, but of France and England, in their united efforts to fight and win, even at the cost of great personal and national sacrifice. He speaks of their accord of mind and heart in their commitment in doing all that is within their power for the common good: “That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government – every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength…we shall not flag nor fail.” What refreshing words of fraternal love, the brotherly love to which Christ calls us, bringing peace.
Another Englishman, had much to say of unity and peace, won by hard conquest, J.R.R. Tolkien, who wrote the majority of his epic fantasy story, The Lord of the Rings, during WWII, possibly inspired by Churchill’s speech. “Stand your ground!” is the cry Tolkien puts on the lips of Aragorn, a figure of Christ the King, who shouts these words to the men who have banded together to fight with him against evil on behalf of their families, their peoples, and all that they hold dear. As sons and daughters of God, we can hear this Christ-figure, speaking life to us in our own shared predicament today, just as the contemporaries of Tolkien and Churchill heard him speaking to them: “My brothers. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day…This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand! Men of the West!”
Both Churchill and Aragorn breathe the spirit of unity and courage into their brothers as they call them to stand together as one, to face the foe. And who is our foe if not the immortal enemy with whom we have done battle since the donning of time. “Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against…the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6:12) We are fighting to keep love alive in our hearts. The devil seeks to destroy our unity, our peace, and our loving concern for one another. Through this virus he seeks to divide us from our neighbor and from our God. Yet, he will not prevail if we stand our ground and together take up arms against sin, letting Christ reign in our hearts. “Oh Mighty One, gird Your sword upon Your thigh. Ride on for the cause of truth, and goodness and right.” (Ps 45:3) Christ shows us that the power of sin and death can never prevail over a heart like His, a Heart full of love. Will you stand with Christ and fight with your life that the light of His love may prevail in the darkness of our minds and hearts, of our world?
All of us have a part to play in defeating the enemy. The battle is fought on two plains, the plain of our thoughts, which influence what is happening within us, and the plain of our actions, which impact what is happening in the world around us. On the first plain, we fight the mental and emotional evils of this virus by keeping love alive in our minds and hearts. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we avoid temptations to discouragement and fear by choosing trust in God, and we speak words of encouragement and hope to our neighbor.
On the second plain, through our actions of loving service, we can fight the physical evils of this virus. Some of us are called to give direct care to the sick, some to protect the vulnerable or to deliver needed supplies, and some to lead with the gifts of wisdom and foresight. Others are called to comfort the dying with their prayers, to spread the light of the Gospel through social media, to uplift the downhearted with a phone call, and to keep hope alive in the hearts of our children through the virtual classroom or loving patience in our homes.
This is a time for greatness, just as WWII was a time for the heroic deeds of men to shine forth for the glory of God. “For greater things you were born”, our Mother Luisita reminds us. Let us pray that this unique challenge in the history of man will bring unity to our families, our nations, and our world. Brought together in the Heart of Christ, let our battle cry be once again, “Viva Cristo Rey!!!”
*This article was inspired by the witness of the generations that have gone before us and of our own generation of heroic men and women who are choosing to valiantly lay down their lives in loving service to our fellow men. You are our hope!