St Martin Soldier of the Cross

Here’s what I like about St Martin of Tours–and no, he was not the patron saint of tour guides–he was a soldier. In other words, he was a warrior. He got on with the job. He didn’t sit around with a group of his friends discussing what it means to be a disciple of the Lord. He did something. He stepped out and worked with the poor. He followed Jesus Christ. He didn’t just think about it and have beautiful feelings.

I remember as an Evangelical kid singing, “Stand up stand up for Jesus you soldiers of the cross, lift high his royal banner it must not suffer loss.” That sort of stuff is stirring and inspiring and especially necessary in an age in which Christianity has been reduced to a feminized religion full of milky wimps tiptoeing around trying not to offend the ladies (of both genders and all ages) So give me a few more soldiers of the cross, and let’s not worry too much about stepping on the flowers.

Perhaps at this stage in my own life I value action and entering the battle because I realize that time is a’wastin’ and we’re at war whether we like it or not. There is an awful lot to do and not an awful lot of time in which to do it. I am increasingly impatient with those who want to just talk about their faith. Let’s get up and do something about it!

The other thing that worries me about sitting around and talking about religion or even worse–having feelings about religion is that we too often mistake discussion or religious feelings for the real thing. I used to do this with the religious books I read. I read an inspiring book about prayer and would think that because I had read the book and had uplifting feelings about prayer that I had prayed. Big mistake.

We do a similar sort of self deception when we thing inspiring thoughts about the saints or the poor or how we are going to do something beautiful for God one day. Then we never do.

St Martin of Tours, teach us to be radical disciples. Teach us to step out of the boat and do some wave walking. Teach us to be soldiers of the cross. Teach us to love with burning hearts and blazing eyes. Teach us to live every moment of life as if it is our last and know beyond all knowing that only what’s done for Christ will last.

  • Suburbanbanshee

    Well, I totally agree with you about soldier saints. St. Maurice, St. Louis, etc. — all great guys.However… to be totally accurate, St. Sulpicius Severus' life of the guy is pretty explicit that he wasn't exactly a model soldier. He came from a soldier family, but he was on the pacifist interpretation side and anyway, wanted to be a monk. The problem was that, in the Roman Empire at that time, sons of soldiers were obliged to become soldiers. (To keep legion numbers up, because so many Roman citizens were reluctant to take 20 year enlistments that wouldn't let you legally marry until your time was up.) So when Emperor Julian the Apostate marched 'em out to do battle, Martin asked to be let off the fighting stuff. To prove that it wasn't a matter of cowardice, he offered to walk right out in the middle of the battle unarmed and pray. (If I recall correctly. It's been a while since I read it. I'm fairly sure that some prophecies and miracles also came into it.) He did prove his courage and eventually they did let him out of the army to become a hermit monk, at which point a ton of other monks joined him and kinda messed up his plans, and then people made him a bishop by outright trickery.So yeah, he was the kind of guy who went at his problems face on, but he was kind of a militant conscientious objector also.