Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Church Militant

     I remember learning that there is a Church Triumphant (the saints in glory) and a Church Militant (those of us here on earth).  I was reminded of this as I prayed the Collect for Ash Wednesday, which sounded like a call to action in the war that wages around us.  The prayer talks of a campaign that we are embarking on, a campaign of Christian service.  We are used to hearing of or participating in campaigns - to raise funds, to get elected to office, and in war times we call our various drives and pushes in battles campaigns.  As a Civil War buff, I recall the Peninsula Campaign, the campaign in the Shenandoah Valley, and Sherman's march to the sea, among others.  This kind of a campaign means that you have studied and evaluated the need, the resources, the opportunities and the goal.  And ready ... you set out.

     This campaign that we are called to be a part of begins with holy fasting.  It is rooted in service in the name of Christ.  It requires us to arm ourselves with restraint, self-restraint, rather than reckless abandon.  And it is a battle against spiritual evils - not child's play.

     I have a good friend, Michael Ripple, who in his blog Pray-lium often reminds us of this daily battle with the subtle and not so subtle forces of evil.  His recent post on fasting is to the heart of the matter.

     The Prayer over the People today says:

Pour out a spirit of compunction, O God,
on those who bow before your majesty,
and by your mercy
may they merit the rewards you promisePray-lium
to those who do penance.

     May we bow before the majesty of God, do penance for our failings, and merit the rewards that he promises.  And may our Lent be a powerful experience of God.

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