What are your plans for Lent this year? Here we are in the Year of Faith, a year that Pope Benedict XVI hopes will awaken humanity at a critical moment.
“In vast areas of the earth the faith risks being extinguished, like a flame without fuel,” the pope warned. “We are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of a religious sense which represents one of the greatest challenges for the Church today . . . The renewal of faith must, then, be a priority for the entire Church in our time.”
While most of us try to grow in faith throughout our lives, we Catholics have always understood that Lent is a special time for focusing squarely on this effort to deepen and develop ourselves as Catholics living in the world, but destined for heaven. And, for many, this Year of Faith has inspired us to challenge ourselves even more.
Lent is a time of self-denial. St. John the Baptist put it this way, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). He knew his mission was not about himself, but to prepare the way of the Lord.
In the same way, we who are called to be warrior saints in this troubled world need to grow in our understanding that it is not about “me,” but instead it is about God and His mission of saving souls.
Akin to military boot camp
In this respect, Lent is very much akin to a military boot camp. In the U.S. Army’s Basic Combat Training, the first goal of the drill sergeants is to get everyone working and functioning as a team so they can accomplish the goals set before them.
This is why one of the first phases of the training includes shaving all heads, while all recruits wear the same uniform. Why? Because there can be no elitism and no stereotypes if they are to work together as a team, a unified fighting force.
Real love -- heroic love -- is selfless; it is not egocentric, but absolutely self-emptying, as we identify in the supreme sacrifice of love in our crucified Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Similarly, the accounts of military bravery usually include a soldier’s willingness to put himself in harm’s way because he places the welfare of his comrades ahead of his own safety and security.
St. Paul understood this as he wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20). We Christians-in-training are forever looking for opportunities to empty ourselves in order to allow Christ to fill us.
Church Militant Boot Camp
This is why the Church Militant Boot Camp looks no further than the four facets of love Christ identified as the summation of the entire law and the prophets: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mk 12:30).
And then to understand that the second great commandment -- “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” -- is the natural consequence and result of the first, because a person who genuinely loves God also loves others because he knows we are all brothers and sisters, children of the same Father.
The purpose of the Church Militant Boot Camp can be summed up in this way: “For the courageous faithful in the trenches of the Church Militant who seek the basic training that is vital for awakening faith, battling evil, and rescuing souls.”
This Boot Camp campaign can be found inside the Church Militant Field Manual, a book that I published last year. It includes training for the heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Moreover, additional tools have been recently added which include the brand new “Fortes in Fide” pocket-sized prayer book, Church Militant Field Journal for keeping track of your progress, and a 26-part “In the Trenches” video series.
You can also find everything you need for your own personal Lenten Church Militant Boot Camp at the amazing new ChurchMilitant.com Web site. This is a one-stop destination containing everything you need for getting your “Warrior Saint Interior Life” up and running.
Take the challenge! Join the Church Militant Boot Camp 2013!
Fr. Rick Heilman, a priest of the Diocese of Madison, is the founder of the Knights of Divine Mercy, a Catholic men’s apostolate.