Friday, January 6, 2012

The Standard Bearer's Battle Hymn

Armies everywhere used to march into battle with their standard bearer (the guy with the flag) right up front.  He was the visual proclamation of who an army was. He was absolutely essential in warfare, and darn near a required part of battle  He did not fight the battle himself, rather his job for the army was to bravely march forward announcing to everyone who saw him "this is who we are and what we stand for, by golly!"  There was no mistaking allies or enemies in a time when a contingent unfurled their colors and lifted them high for all to see.

Those of us with large families are the modern day standard bearers of the Church Militant. We are an obvious physical symbol of the Church in the modern world.  Our presence loudly proclaims that we believe in the gift and value of life . After all, we have surrounded ourselves with it.

Many times in recent years, the parents of large families have been left wondering where the army has gone that we are representing.  As we face increasingly vocal and hostile opposition from a world which values self over sacrifice, our churches and pastors are silent in the face of the onslaught.

Our pastors have chosen fear over bravery.  Instead of loudly condemning contraception for the evil that it is in the world and teaching the proper place of sex in society, our spiritual leaders have chosen to remain silent rather than be unpopular.  It is easy to rail against the evil of abortion from the pulpit; it's not hard to be against killing babies.  It takes a much stronger man to call out the evil of the Pill and the creeping destruction it has had on society.

Their example of cowardice has taught their flocks that such things are not truly important.  They have left us, the flag bearers, unprotected.  When we meet with hostile looks and unkind words at the store; nasty comments and resentment within our parishes (even from our clergy); the unceasing pressure from doctors, friends,  and even strangers to contracept; or disbelieving stares and ugly anger within our extended families, even in front of and to our children, there is very often no one to contradict them.  There is no cavalry riding to our defense.

When representatives of our modern culture condemn us to our faces for "overtaxing the planet's resources" or ridicule our "irresponsible breeding", our fellow Christians more often than not will simply turn away.  They are afraid of confrontation and so they back away from the battle, either because they are ill-equipped to fight it, they are scared, or because they quietly agree with the aggressors.

We, as a Church, need to do better than this.  We need to protect those who are so visible, and we need to better equip those we are sending into the world.  We need our priests to teach about sex, not just abortion, but all the moral issues wrapped up in that three-letter word.  We need to be taught about the cancer of contraception, not just once every few years when a guest speaker shows up (if he comes at all), but often and with frank honesty.

The people in the pews need to be told that this is a battle for our very souls and we need to be taught to recognize the weapons of the enemy.  There is a reason for the decrease in the number of larger families in the modern world.  It is a failure of leadership.  The faithful are not being taught that children are a gift from God and are to be treasured and welcomed that way, and so even the faithful weekly church-goers have fallen into the trap of ease and convenience.  They have been allowed to go forth in ignorance because our priests and bishops fear public condemnation, but their silence condemns us to what they fear.  Their people, the Church Militant, could be marching happily to Hell because there are too few people willing to stand in front of them and speak the truth.

We desperately need our leaders to lead.  We have read the Bible, heard the Truth and answered the call.  We are here, eagerly standing firm against a culture which it often seems is beginning to hate us.  We have answered the call.  Where is the rest of the army?  They have left us to face the Enemy and his cohorts alone.

Without an army, the guy with the flag is no longer a proud member of anything.  With no soldiers to back him up, standard bearer is nothing more than a fancy name for the target.

Cross-posted at Defend Us In Battle.  If you don't already read Joe's blog, you should go check it out.
thanks to my friend Peace for putting this idea in my head weeks ago


Karie, the Regular Guy's Extraordinary Wife said...

I will never forget when I sat in our church basement at a Mom & Tots Bible study class, I mentioned the evil of contraception. The leader of the Bible Study class jumped in saying "Yes, the evil of abortion as a means of contraception" I was so stunned I just sat there in silence. One of the reasons we left that particular parish.

Anonymous said...

A dear friend of mine is in the program to become a Catholic Deacon. He and his wife are both very involved with their parish. Yet he has repeatedly said since before he was married that he never wanted to have kids and constantly refers to them as burdens. I have no doubt that he and his wife have been using ABC. I keep praying that through the deaconite program he will be faced with what he has been rejecting before it is too late.

I just announced my fifth pregnancy on Facebook the other day, and I haven't heard a peep from him. It is possible that he hasn't seen it, and it's also possible that he's taking the tactic of "if you can't say something nice..."

It's possible that some priests might be reticent about talking about contraception too in-depth during the Mass because there are small children in attendance, but those talks really need to start in the Catholic schools/RE programs. I went to Catholic schools for 12 years, through "Valueing Values" sex talk in 8th grade to high school health class and never once heard the Catholic teachings on chastity, contraception, or abortion spelled out beyond what I heard from the mainstream media.

And then of course we have to remember all of the faithful Catholics who carry the cross of infertility. I don't know if we just hear of it more because of the internet, or if it just seems so much more widespread today.

LarryD said...

This is absolutely stunning.

Leila @ Little Catholic Bubble said...


Maureen said...

so true, we only have 3 but folks seem stunned when I say we'd love it if God sent us more...I even get that reaction during the coffee hour after Mass. And we do have a priest who speaks of the evils of contraception from the pulpit and our parish is known as the conservative one in the area.

Terri said...

Bravo!!!! To husband is in his first year of Deaconate formation and I truly doubt that the truth will be taught. We refer to class as "Heresy 101". Please pray for all in formation!

Maureen said...

@Terri - Sounds like alot of the lectures in the lay ministry program I went thru in my archdiocese. You should have seen the directors squirm and blanche when Benedict was elected instead of some progressive as they had predicted.

Karyn said...

Thank God the "little old ladies" at daily Mass have been so supportive of our family during this fifth pregnancy. But both my RCIA teacher and my pastor told me point blank that it is fine to use birth control. The only young families I know that are having larger families are some of Hispanics at the Spanish Mass and some of the neighboring Baptists. So, no, I'm not holding my breath for the calvary.

mdavid said...

Without an army, the guy with the flag is no longer a proud member of anything. With no soldiers to back him up, standard bearer is nothing more than a fancy name for the target.

This is a great line. I've oft said that as a traditional Catholic I've never had one iota of spiritual help from the local church, clergy or otherwise. Much worse, I've experienced serious moral stumbling blocks not only from the pulpit but the parish education as well. Thank God for the internet! And for those few families left. It would be very challenging being Catholic otherwise.

Karyn, So, no, I'm not holding my breath for the calvary.

Methinks a traditional Christian would have died of asphyxiation decades ago holding their breath for moral support from the AmChurch circa 2012. No, other than the Communion of Saints and God Himself, we really are alone.

Little JoAnn said...

What, what a post. This is exactly what the Church needs to read. I think this needs to be published in Catholic newspapers, etc...ASAP.

LarryD said...

This has been linked at The Good job, Rebecca!

Bruce said...

Volunteer to lead a parish study of Humanae Vitae. Pray. Don't assume everyone who doesn't have children are on contraception. When you get flak, respond with love as best you can. Say something encouraging whenever you encounter members of large families.

aka the Mom said...

Bruce - That is an assumption I never make. Too many people I love are infertile. Their pain is great, silent, and too often ignored.

But I don't make assumptions that a large number of people in the church do contracept. I have been privy to too many conversations in the cry-room for that.

Danya @ He Adopted Me First said...

Excellent Rebecca! Fortunately, our parish does teach THE TRUTH about contraception and it makes a lot of folks squirm. Not me though....hehehehe. I just think to myself, there's a lot of things I'm guilty of - but this sure isn't one of them!

From The Pews said...


As much as some, because not ALL of Our Leaders have or are failing...The Few who are up and at arms with the rest of us are being attacked as well.

But I am not here to bash or praise leaders...

I am here to say that we too, the Church Militant must not be so apathetic!
We too have a responsibility!
If we do not understand or know something we must, with Due Diligence, LEARN!
Research, Read, ask questions...

Our Leader, Our ONE, True Leader, Christ left us a Legacy...
Let us use it!

cathmom5 said...

It is also mentioned on the National Catholic Register online here:
[Thanks to JoAnn for making it known to me.]
God Bless! Keep up the good work.