Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Church Militant

The strife is o'er, the battle done.
Now is the Victor's triumph won.
Oh let the song of praise be sung.

After the Breakfast Bus this Sunday, Caryne and I headed to noon mass at the Old Cathedral, a modest centuries old building that sits practically beneath the Arch. It was the Feast of All Souls. As the cantor and organ intoned the above hymn, my gaze fell on a statue of St. Louis the King, and it all made such perfect sense.

Oh Louis - such a good man, plunging into battle for holy causes that never really succeeded. He led his Crusading armies so nobly, famously preferring leprosy or death to mortal sin. But all his efforts to win back the Holy Land were undone by military disadvantages and the odd bout of dysentery. Strife and battle were frequent characteristics of his life.

I pictured the pious Frenchman running into battle, wielding his white plaster sword at God's enemies. Was all that in vain? If his dedication glorified the ultimate victor, maybe not. Since he won the battle for his salvation, Louis now enjoys the ultimate triumph.

I knew I could count on Louis, to whom I have felt particularly close ever since I read medieval accounts of his intestinal distress during a sea voyage. We volunteers are fighting battles of our own, although less dramatically. Even if we lose more clients than we save, or we only stay at our agencies for a year, the fight is still worth fighting. We've got the Victor backing us up.

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