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"Military and faith life" by Marya Hayes (CatholicMom.com) Image credit: Pixabay.com (2011), CC0/PD[/caption] I have been thinking a lot about my military life and the lives of the military families of this country. This topic came up last night as my husband and I discussed his next position, which includes a Sea Tour. Sea Tour of Duty is a period of time spent performing operational duties at sea, including combat, performing patrol or fleet duties, or service in a foreign country. Personally, Sea Tour is what I dread most about the military life. Being in the Army of God is similar to being in the military. While I have firsthand knowledge now of how honorable and dedicated my husband is, I didn’t know many military personnel previously. I guess that’s partly because my home town in California isn’t a military town and partly because active duty military personnel comprise only 1% of our population. My dad was in the Navy long before I came along. Now, after 4 years of being exposed to this brand-new way of life, I feel that I can at least shed some light, even if small, on some of the struggles and similarities to our faith life. The point that is always glaring me in the face is that we are not in control. In the military you are told where you will work, when you will work, where you will move, and who can come with you and who has to stay behind. In addition, all of those decisions can change on a dime. You can have no notice, or 3 days’ notice. As a military spouse, you are in constant flux. The schedule is always changing. When your active duty spouse is going to be home on any given day varies, as well as what weeks and months he will deployed. Sometimes the military will extend your tour of duty when you and your family thought you were coming home. The time and date of departure and return is usually kept under strict rules and is not released until almost last minute so the word won’t get out to the wrong people. Trips are cancelled, birthdays and anniversaries missed, holidays and school plays missed. You are also commanded to go to certain celebrations. These are a duty and sometimes called “Mando fun,” short for mandatory fun. They may or may not be fun, and they will charge you out of pocket for them on top of it all. In our faith life, we are also not in control and must trust that the God who is in charge has it under control and that His plan is perfect. While the military’s plans might not be perfect, they do have a positive goal in mind. Additionally, the military has rules for behavior inside and outside the work space. They also have a strict dress code. Doesn’t that all sound familiar? In today’s society, sadly, the rules for behavior and dressing modestly have gone by the wayside for a large part. Our faith “rules” are meant to guide you and to address the purity of your soul. When we throw them out, there are consequences to our soul and salvation. In the military, if you choose not to follow the rules, you are dishonorably discharged. In our faith life we also are commanded to go to the feast (Mass) and to many spiritual celebrations (feast days). Sometimes we may not feel inclined to go, yet it is “mandatory.” That’s because the military knows, just as God knows, that community is important. It is important to celebrate together. It is important to be a family and to feast and strengthen ourselves in community and build the bonds that hold us up in tough times and in addition edify us so that we can help others. It is important to recognize the sacrifice and heroic efforts of those who go before us in and were victorious. A huge part of military life is help and service to others. It is about respect and honor and holding up the greater good. In our Christian faith, our lives are to be lived in the help and service to others. First, we are to take care of our own families that God has entrusted to us. Avoiding any political discussion in this article, I still recognize that humans aren’t always honorable and their intentions are not always to serve or to help. The Church also has members that are not honorable and do not have the greater good at heart. Then there are some who intend to do well but their own weaknesses prevent a positive outcome. This is our reality. We live with broken humans who have built institutions that also have broken parts. It is part of the human condition. Within this condition, however, is plenty of room for greatness, plenty of room for transformation, and plenty of room for courage, victory, and finally salvation. "Military and faith life" by Marya Hayes (CatholicMom.com) Copyright 2019 Marya Hayes. All rights reserved.[/caption] So while I learn about how to bend and accept all that comes with being a military spouse, I connect that with my faith life. I must also bend and accept all that comes with being a Christian. That means that I am patient when I have nearly run out of patience with my kids, and it means flexing to a budget while trying to meet all member’s needs. It means accepting that I am not in control. It means the same power we give in saying that that military owns our time and we serve at the pleasure of the military needs, we also give that same power to our God. We should be serving at the pleasure of our God and asking him what we are to do with our time, and where we are to go, and who to take with us and who to leave behind. The reason I think that military and faith life are so similar is this: both invade almost every aspect of our lives. That sounds a little negative, so I will say that they both affect and command presence and obedience in a profound way. Both demand obedience in ways you did not expect and have consequences that you cannot imagine. The result, in faith life, is true joy. In the end, the military is designed for our protection and for the protection of others. Our faith life is also designed for our protection and ultimately our preservation through salvation. The military must have obedience because we cannot have rogue military members doing something damaging to themselves or others, or tarnish a good reputation, or cause scandal. Just as in the Church, when there are rogue members, this causes damage to self and others, tarnishes the Church, and causes scandal. We have less faith in a military and in a Church when it has scandal within. There is never a time to abandon your faith. There is a time to pray more fervently for its revival and for its return to purity of intention. This is the time to enter and be honorable from within. Just as evildoers enter and try to destroy from the outside in, so must the faithful enter and revive from the inside out.
Copyright 2019 Marya Hayes