Washington D.C., Oct 25, 2012 / 12:16 am (CNA).- The U.S. archbishop for the military services is calling on faithful men and women in the armed services to grow deeper in their relationship with Christ in order to witness to him as they serve their country.
“Your presence and your efforts in the military are contributing toward the desire of peace,” said U.S. Military Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio.
In an Oct. 11 pastoral letter on the Year of Faith, the archbishop encouraged Catholics in the military to grow in their faith through their pursuit of peace.
The Year of Faith was called by Pope Benedict XVI as an opportunity to rediscover and deepen the Catholic faith. It began on Oct. 11, 2012 and lasts until Nov. 24, 2013.
“Your unique circumstances do not dispense you from profiting from the Year of Faith,” Archbishop Broglio told Catholics who serve in the military.
“As your Shepherd, I want to encourage you in your vocation, help you to see how the Church values your service, and challenge you to deepen your relationship and devotion to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” he explained.
The archbishop recognized the vital contribution men and women in his archdiocese make in the pursuit of peace. He encouraged them in their commitment to defending the nation despite obstacles such as loneliness, separation and misunderstanding.
“In those unsettling experiences you must rely on the relationships of the community of faith found in the Catholic Church,” he said, recalling that “the source of all healing and peace is found in the person of Jesus Christ.”
Archbishop Broglio encouraged the faithful to memorize the Nicene Creed during the Year of Faith, to grow in their prayer life, and to study the Catechism and the documents of the Second Vatican Council, especially those that speak about the military.
He pointed to council documents that recognize the role of the military and acknowledging the importance of the particular spiritual and pastoral needs of military personnel.
In addition, he said, the Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses a “desire to avoid war and specifically the intentional destruction of human life.” It recognizes those in the armed forces as “servants of the security and freedom of nations” who contribute to peace and the common good if they serve honorably.The value of peace-seeking military service is important to remember, particularly amid the wearisome repetition that can be part of military life, he said.
Archbishop Broglio also reflected on the new translation of the Roman Missal, in which the people say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
This prayer comes from the Scriptures, he observed, when a centurion asks Jesus to heal his suffering servant.
He observed that the centurion is both courteous and humble, acknowledging “that Jesus has more authority and has greater command than he as a soldier will ever have.”
“The centurion recognizes himself as a servant leader who is subject to the authority of Almighty God,” he said.
In addition, the archbishop continued, the centurion respects that Jewish law would discourage Jesus from entering his house because he is a Gentile. He shows faith and accepts God’s will while also offering Jesus a way to avoid being defiled by asking him to “only say the word and my servant will be healed.”
The centurion is also a known figure of authority, speaking in front of others, Archbishop Broglio noted. His statement of faith is a witness to those around him, and he “is not worried about his position” or reputation in expressing his faith.
“Just as the centurion risked sharing what he believed in front of others, so we also must go and do the same,” the archbishop said, encouraging military personnel to recall the prayer of the centurion when they attend Mass.
There is also a great need to recognize our own sinfulness and need for healing, the archbishop added, stressing the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist.
Archbishop Broglio recalled that a centurion was also present at Christ’s death, acknowledging, “Truly, this is the Son of God.” In the same way, we are called to profess Christ through our lives, our service and our daily prayer, he explained.
“We bring Him to others in our faithful witness, our joyful proclamation, our enduring hope, and our practice of charity,” he said.