There are many saints out there that started out as soldiers or aspired to fight in great battles. Saint Francis aspired to fight in many great battles, such as the Crusades or battles going on in Assisi. However, his attempts into becoming a great warrior met with failure. Eventually, he heard a different calling from God: “Francis, seest thou not that my house is in ruins? Go and restore it for me.” Francis became obsessed with rebuilding the church in the ruined church in his town, in spite of the fact that it got him in major trouble with his father to the point that he disowned his earthly father in order to devote his life to the Heavenly Father. Eventually, Francis realized that God was calling him to rebuild not just one church, but the One Church, the Holy Catholic Church. Francis did so by creating an order of friars who went out into the world and administered help to the poor and needy while also living a very simple lifestyle. To this day, there are millions of Franciscan friars, sisters, priests, and laypeople who help serve the community in different ways.
Saint Ignatius also started out as a man who had big dreams of glory and was part of the army in his youth. Unfortunately, his leg was struck by a cannonball during a battle, which ended his military career. While recovering, the young Ignatius read the lives of the saints, including Saint Francis, and decided to devote his life to serving God. This would eventually lead Ignatius to create the order of Jesuits, who became essential in bringing Catholicism to all the ends of the earth, including China and Japan. These days, you’ll find Jesuit priests everywhere, from your local Loyola University to a New York City newspaper to Vatican City.
But being a soldier for Christ isn’t just for men. I can’t picture the idea of putting on the armor of God without thinking of the most famous female soldier/saint Joan of Arc.
I have a special connection to that particular saint because back in college, I did a monologue as Joan of Arc for my acting class. In this monologue, I portrayed Joan as she gave testimony about the vision she had of Saint Michael and her calling to lead the armies of France. It was a heavy responsibility for a young girl such as her, and yet she always wore the armor of God, even when it led to her death at the stake. What I admire most about Joan of Arc is her courage. She embodied what the Catechism says about the cardinal virtue of fortitude:
Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause.
We may not all be soldiers (but if you are in the armed services, God bless you for doing so), but we can learn from these saints and be soldiers of Christ by having the courage to do God’s will no matter what the cost.
Which of the three saints did you relate to the most and why?
When do you wear the armor of God the most?