The Spiritual Reality of the Church Militant

Written By Conor Gallagher

Militant is a word that modern parents do not appreciate. They believe Christianity to be all clouds and rainbows, void of anything harsh, and certainly without any notion of fighting or violence. Do not fall into this devilish trap, Dear Parent!

Your child is, indeed, part of a military: the greatest military of the Divine Majesty. Your son, your daughter, is a soldier sent to fight God’s enemies, the legions of darkness, the demons of hell.

If you cringe at such a reality, Parent, you must pause and reflect on your own understanding of the fallen world in which we live. There was, before the beginning of time, a cosmic battle between Lucifer and the fallen angels versus St. Michael and the faithful angels.

This is a vicious war, a war that puts all human bloodshed to shame. And it is the continual war over the souls of mankind. Lucifer could not stand the idea of bowing before the flesh and blood of the Infant Jesus, and so he led a revolt to which all human revolutions pale in comparison.

This war between good and evil has been cast upon your little child. Your child has no choice but to put on the armor of God, to go headlong into the breach, and to offer his or her life and limb for the King.

And what role do you play? Not only are you a member of the army but you have been called to train your troops in the ways of God’s soldiery. Yes, you are the primary educators of this little soldier. You must shape his mind not only in the ways of the Lord but in the ways of spiritual battle. Your child must know the enemy, and thus hiding Satan’s reality only sets him up for a surprise attack.

You must also train your child, body and soul. That is right, body and soul. Your little soldier must learn to endure physical pain, as every soldier must do in the drudgery of trench warfare. You will train your little one through fasting and abstinence, not only in Lent, but in Advent, and on every Friday for the rest of his life.

You will train your son or daughter to offer up bodily suffering, and such training begins with skinned knees and rumbling tummies. You must look at your child and say, “I’m sorry you are hurt, but find the strength to offer up your suffering to Our Lord.”

This will be difficult for such a loving parent as you are. But seize the moment! When your child is leaning over the toilet, sick with the stomach bug, do not just hand a towel and rub his or her back, but call the soldier forth to training.

Gently remind your child to offer his or her suffering for this or that child with cancer or for this or that child who is going to bed hungry. There is never an inopportune time to creatively, gently, and affectionately train your child in the Divine Majesty’s service.

You do not know if your child will one day command a great charge against the Church’s visible and invisible foes, or whether he will rage a silent, lifetime war in his own heart. But one thing is clear: there will be a battle.

As a member of the Church Militant, there is no escaping it, for the enemies are attacking. And they will attack until your child finally enters the Church Suffering.

This article is taken from a chapter in Parenting for Eternity by Conor Gallagher which is available from TAN Books.

Conor Gallagher is CEO of TAN Books. He is author of various books and is a proud husband and father of fifteen children. His subjects of interest include family life, philosophy, the spiritual life and spiritual direction.  His graduate degrees are from the Catholic University of America.