Martin and Hubert

This upcoming week we celebrate two notable saints, Martin the patron of soldiers on Veterans Day, and Hubert, the patron of hunters.

I'm generally not a fan of guns. If drafted, my Catholic religious identity would prohibit my declaration as a conscientious objector; but I could become a partial objector, and therefore only serve medically the wounded, never taking up arms.

Here we have two saints of the Church identified with occupations very unlike the non-violent Christ pictured in the Gospels. I can't see Christ condoning the use of weapons (think of his admonition to Peter at his arrest). I believe the papal magisterium has made it very clear to what extent a legitimate national defense should limit itself.

Fortunately, the example given us by these saints confirms the path of temperate non-violence.

Martin exchanged his sword for a life of saintly service to the poor. He did not hesitate to refute paganism and heresy, but he refused to kill. The only weapon he needed was Truth.

Hubert was out hunting a stag when he had his conversion. He saw a vision of a crucifix between the stag's antlers, and was clearly told to repent of his worldiness. He also exchanged his weaponry for a life of saintly service to the poor. He also rooted out paganism.

The Lord took both of these men away from guns and into a full and generous life. That same drive that made one a successful soldier and the other a successful hunter also made them both ardent defenders of the faith. They were both regal, noble, and gentle men, expressing a masculinity and virility like that of chaste St. Joseph, another man whose ardor served a purpose greater than himself.

Should we honor the veterans who gave their lives? Were they selfless in their service? Yes.

But let us consider the wider view. How much more glory is given to God when a man forsakes militancy and uses his strength to care for the living whose everlasting peace is not yet secure?

How many men would do better to pursue a life of holiness rather than whatever object they have in sight,  be it a stag, a sexual exploit, or a career prospect?

Following the example of the Lamb does not render us milquetoast- no-- it is the only path to sure Victory and a Prize more worthy than a wall mounting.

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