Invisibility and St. Martin

We received a wonderful, encouraging email from someone at Missourians Against Militarism (MAM). He wrote in part:

“While MAM is non-sectarian by design, it has a strong Catholic presence. In the years of our existence, we have experienced far less opposition than apathy and denigration, both within and outside the Christian community. It remains hard to dialogue when the other party is determined to have you remain invisible.”

I was thinking about this comment today when I was searching for a good video for the blog post on St. Martin of Tours. I came across this video by Fr. James Kubicki, SJ, of “Apostleship of Prayer.” In the video, Fr. Kubicki talks about Armistice Day and then he says: “And men and women have faithfully followed their civic responsibility to serve and moral obligation to serve and defend our country. We honor them today, on a day when the Church honors Martin of Tours, a soldier in the Roman army. The story goes…”

Now, one would think the story he would talk about would be Martin’s refusal to “serve” any longer, since that seems to be the most relevant and applicable story on Veterans Day. Nope. Instead he tells the story about Martin giving half his cloak to a beggar.

“Now there’s an example,” he continues, “of how the saints are living witnesses to the Gospel, for Jesus said that whatever is done for the least of his brothers or sisters is done for him. Thus did Martin win the war, the only war that will end all wars, the war against self-concern, self-centeredness, selfishness. Ultimately, it’s only in following God’s law, to love God above all, to love neighbor as ourselves that peace will come. “

Maybe it’s just me, but that seems pretty twisted, and like a pretty blatant attempt to render the real truth of St. Martin’s witness invisible. Surely Fr. Kubicki was not unaware of St. Martin’s turn against military service. Why the half truth? What’s going on here? How can we make a saint that turned against military service a poster boy for military service? I’m going to send this link to Fr. Kubicki and see if he has an answer for us. (I’m not trying to be confrontational, but seriously, if I don’t send a link, then I feel like I’m talking about people behind their backs.)

Along the same lines, when you read about the weird Order of Saint Martin, an award given “to those who have rendered conspicuous, long-term service” in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, there is no mention of the fact that St. Martin eventually turned away from military service because he saw it as incompatible with his duty to follow Christ. Nothing to see here, folks! Nothing to see here. Please take your medal and keep moving.

No wonder Catholics freak out when you question militarism: It seems like a completely subversive and foreign concept! They have never considered, I guess, that the civic responsibility and moral obligation to serve and defend the country could ever come in conflict with God’s law, maybe because no one has ever told them about the tradition of nonviolence, or the many instances of resistance and refusal to do the state’s bidding, in the long, glorious history of the Church. It’s all very bizarre if you ask me. This is something we should be proud of! I don’t understand why the need to be so hush-hush.

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