How can soldiers deal with grief and loss in a time of war, yet still hold fast to their faith? That’s a subject a Catholic bishop addressed in a recent interview:
The role of military chaplain is a challenging one, providing spiritual care, a sympathetic ear or simple words of comfort for those serving in situations of combat in countries around the world. Although military chaplains are highly valued and still much in demand, there is now a severe shortage of priests willing to take on this demanding task – that’s according to the Catholic Bishop of the Forces in Great Britain, Richard Moth, who recently appealed for prayers for new vocations to the military chaplaincy.
As he prepares to mark the silver jubilee of the military ordinariate in Britain on September 29th, Bishop Moth talked to Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen about this unique form of ministry and the many difficulties facing those who share their faith on the front lines….
“We are (experiencing shortages) in all three services, particular in the Royal Air Force …I’ve a very real sense that military chaplaincy is a ‘vocation within a vocation’….
It’s not at all an easy task….we have chaplains ‘in theatre’ in Afghanistan and with the Royal Navy particularly in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean, piracy operations off the African coast….
They are hugely valued by personnel and families: even if you might have service personnel who don’t have great faith themselves, they really recognise the value of the chaplain and the support they give, somebody outside the chain of command to whom they can go with their problems, somebody who’ll pray with them and be with them in those difficult moments and really bring them a sense of hope of the Resurrection…..”
UPDATE: A reader reminded me about this terrific project for servicemen and women, Frontline Faith:
Sometimes our Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Guardsmen, and Marines can go for weeks, months, even an entire tour of duty, without attending a worship service or hearing words of comfort from a chaplain.
To help provide spiritual nourishment, Frontline Faith distributes free MP3 players—pre-programmed with spiritual content—to military men and women throughout the world.
Read more and learn how you can help by visiting the Frontline Faith Project website.