The Infant King’s great war cry!

It is still Christmas.  That is, we are in the Octave of Christmas.  Holy Church stops her counting of time for a bit so that we can rest with the mystery of the Incarnation and contemplate it from various angles.  Consider a trip to, say, Florence and the hall where Michelangelo’s great David is.  You would not just walk in straight at it, blink, and then walk out.  Instead, you would gaze and then walk around it to see it from different views.  If that is how one views that statue, how much more fitting is it to contemplate the Christmas mysteries in a patient way?

That said, for years in my explanations of the Latin of the prayers of Holy Mass in both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Form, both in print and on this blog, I underscored that subtexts in the vocabulary add additional levels to the texts.  For example, sometimes the vocabulary smacks of Neoplatonic thought, sometimes is redolent of agricultural or mercantile or nautical images.  Fairly often the vocabulary is strongly military, which seems appropriate for us of the Church Militant.

Appropos the military dimension, I direct the readership’s attention to a piece for Christmas written by my friend Msgr. Charles Pope.  HERE  He writes about the spiritual war in which the Birth of the Savior played a critical role.

We are at war.  The Enemy is relentlessly working for our destruction.  We are soldiers on a march.

Msgr. Pope wrote:

Sorry for such a non-traditional message. But something tells me that we Catholics who remain in the midst of the current culture wars have to regain a deeper sense of what was really going that Christmas, and this one too. For the danger is that we have become too nice for our own good and that we fail to recognize the battle to which we are summoned and which was engaged that first Christmas. Jesus the King of the Universe entered the territory of the “prince of this world” and began to take back territory from him.

And while the more paradoxical victory of the Cross cannot be forgotten, neither can the daring raid of Christmas night where the Lord advances against the foes, takes back territory, and inflicts on him the most serious blows. In the wailing of an infant can be heard a great war cry: “The long night of sin is over, the Light begins to shine, Arise O sleeper and Christ will give you light.”

Read the rest there.

I like the image: The cry of the newly born King is a great war cry!  The Babe of Bethlehem stretches out His arms for warmth and issues a call to arms.

We all have a role to play in this war.  God called each of us into being at a place and time that He determined before the creation of the universe.  He knows you and wants you to do something.

So, get your head straight about who you are and who you ought to be.  Wake up.  Line up behind the banner of our King and Captain.  Get to it.

And, of course…



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JohnE says:

    The cry of the baby Christ, that battle cry, still haunts Satan. Thus his continued battle through abortion and attacks against marriage and the family. Next time I hear a baby wail, I’ll try to remember it causes Satan to tremble.

  2. PA mom says:

    This was a great article!

    Would love to hear a homily like this live!

  3. I was really intrigued by this concept, which I may have seen elsewhere this week as well. It has lots more substance to it than the typical sappy sentimentality that is prevalent at this time of the year. Christmas is an invasion, with the five-star general a tiny baby leading the troops. (Usually the general or admiral doesn’t hit the beaches until they’ve been secured; see David Gerrold’s The World of Star Trek. page 150.) I really think we have lost a lot in laying aside the concept of the Church Militant. Each and every one of us is the object of a cosmic battle, whether we choose to participate or not. The military language in many of the prayers used at Mass is there for a reason– it wasn’t an accident (or maybe it was, if we take apart the word accident and go to its literal roots).

  4. Now I remember where I saw more about this. David Warren references Msgr. Pope’s article in his piece yesterday on The Catholic Thing. This concept is going to stick in my head for a long, long time.

  5. VeritasVereVincet says:

    St. Robert Southwell (1561-1595) wrote a poem called New Heaven, New War about exactly that. The second half may be familiar as “This Little Babe” from Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols.

  6. SKAY says:

    Thank you for this post Father.

  7. Eugene says:

    Beautiful comment

  8. JonPatrick says:

    Wow interesting analogy. We could think of the birth of Christ as D-Day, a beachhead being established on Satan’s territory. What we have been going through for the last 50 years may be the Battle of the Bulge, where it seems like the enemy is winning, but we know who will prevail in the end.

  9. benedetta says:

    Presently spending time in one of the desert regions of the country that despite Catholic presence lacks for accessible TLM and despite the papal urging that it be extended with “kindness and generosity” to the faithful, and, just to be in solidarity with local Catholics who desire reverent liturgy which makes full use of the Church’s beautiful patrimony of chant and prayers, I am considering a drive to avail of the sacrament of confession from SSPX priests who by the graciousness of Pope Francis in this year of mercy can absolve all Catholics licitly and validly during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Confession is a great thing, and it goes hand in hand with the Eucharist. I would like to tell all Catholics who feel bullied by bad clericalists with agendas foreign to the Gospel, that they do not have to just sit and take it, nor do they have to go away, which is the desired result and time ago actually “worked” according to design. We have more options now. We have a bike we can ride. We need to exercise these and through contacts, friendship, and hard work, continue petitioning those in authority over our souls for what is needed for all, especially the young whose needs in these times are desperate.

  10. Mario Bird says:

    Msgr. Pope picks up a theme formerly carried by Chesterton (and, I think, Bp. Sheen and Church Fathers):

    “It is not only true that such a subterranean chamber was a hiding-place from enemies; and that the
    enemies were already scouring the stony plain that lay above it like a sky. . . It is also that there is in that image a true idea of an outpost, of a piercing through the rock and an entrance into an enemy territory.”

    Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, Pt. II, Ch. 1.

    Quis ut Deus!

  11. Hans says:

    This article strikes a chord with me. I was giving a homily on Christmas Day for the first time this year, talking about Jesus’ humility, having made a comparison to Shakespeare’s Henry V in Act IV going out among his soldiers the night before Agincourt, and that Jesus’ birth was the first sign of his victory. I had come to the point of saying that part of talking about how part of humility is recognizing the gifts of our talents, and I was about to talk about how we should use our talents for God’s glory when I heard myself saying that we were soldiers for God, and we should participate in that victory over sin and death, helping bring people home to the Church.

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