We live in chaotic and uncertain times. As noted in previous posts (https://shaunjex.com/2017/03/19/rooted-in-story/) we are strengthened by a knowledge of our history, by the intentional connecting of our story to those who came before us. In that light, I’d like to begin sharing bits of Christian history that I believe can guide us through the violence of our modern times.
Born in 316 CE in modern day Hungary, Martin of Tours converted to Christianity at the age of 10 years old though he would not be baptized until the age of eighteen. Five years after his initial conversion, the Roman military forced him into service.
While in the army, Martin encountered a beggar suffering in the cold. Moved by his plight, Martin removed his cloak and cut it in two, giving half to the beggar. That night he dreamed that he saw Jesus wearing the cloak and when he awoke the garment had been made whole.
At 23, he refused a war bonus and famously said, ““I have served you as a soldier; now let me serve Christ. Give the bounty to those who are going to fight. But I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight.” He petitioned emperor Julian (known as Julian the Apostate) to be released from service. According to tradition, when accused of cowardice Martin offered to go to the front lines of battle armed only with the sign of the cross. His refusal to fight resulted in his imprisonment, but he eventually gained his freedom and went on to study under Hilary of Poitiers.
Today, Christians remember Martin as Patron Saint of soldiers and conscientious objectors.
When faced with violence, may we remember the example of St. Martin of Tours who chose to follow the path of the Crucified Lamb.
The Prayer of St. Francis beautifully compliments the example of Martin of Tours. May it be our daily prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.