St. Martin of Tours helps refine our understanding of who a soldier is.
Editor’s Note: Today we are reprising our original Veteran’s Day post from last year. You’ll be happy to know that Eric, the man about whom I wrote below, is now back home safe with his family, as is his son Brady who was also deployed at roughly the same time. Both continue to adjust to being back home, leaving the continuous anxiety and intensity of life in a war zone behind. Along with the intentions below, please also pray for the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of our returning soldiers as they adjust to the relative peace and freedom of life back at home. ~ Joel
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In reading about today’s Saint of the Day, St. Martin of Tours, the soldier-turned-monk/bishop/saint, I was struck by his concern for his fellow man. From AmericanCatholic.org:
On a bitterly cold day, a famous legend goes, Martin met a poor man, almost naked, trembling in the cold and begging from passersby at the city gate. Martin had nothing but his weapons and his clothes. He drew his sword, cut his cloak into two pieces, gave one to the beggar and wrapped himself in the other half. Some of the bystanders laughed at his now odd appearance; others were ashamed at not having relieved the man’s misery. That night in his sleep Martin saw Christ dressed in the half of the garment he had given away, and heard him say, “Martin, still a catechumen, has covered me with his garment.”
By now, just about every one of us knows someone who has been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, and many of us know a soldier who has been injured or has died. As such, we usually think of the tools of military combat as being guns, missiles, roadside bombs, and the like.
This isn’t always the case; sometimes, like Martin, their tools are kindness and charity. My friend Eric, a good Catholic family man, is a member of the Iowa National Guard 734th Agri-Business Development Team, a special force that aims to combat insurgency in Afghanistan by helping Afghan farmers become more productive. According to Capt. Peter Shinn the best way to fight counter-insurgency is to secure the population. He continued, “How better to secure the population than ensuring that they can feed their families and have some left over to sell and improve their standard of living? Most Afghans live on less than a dollar a day.”
I had the privilege of attending the unit’s send-off ceremony on July 1 of this year. It’s the kind of thing that really makes you proud to be an American, seeing these dedicated soldier-servants leave their families and accept great personal risk to help Afghani farmers feed their families. Today, please pray for the intercession of St. Martin of Tours, patron saint of soldiers:
- For the safety of all military personnel, especially those deployed to dangerous, unstable areas;
- In thanksgiving for the sacrifices soldiers throughout our history have made to keep us safe and free;
- In thanksgiving for the sacrifices of their families;
- For the repose of the souls of all those who have died in combat;
- For the success of military missions, especially humanitarian missions like those of the Iowa National Guard 734th Agri-Business Development Team.
And if you know any veterans, please thank them for their service. God Bless America!