When faced with the expression "soldiers of Christ" some may feel some discomfort, and think of war, fight, death, destruction. To others, however, expression causes enthusiasm and makes them think of victory, conquest, fearlessness. But who does this ancient religious hymn, from which we use a stanza as an epigraph? Who are christ's soldiers after all? Is there a war? What kind of war is this?
Yes, we're at war! And it's not a small uprising, a guerrilla without major consequences. We are in the midst of what may be the greatest battle ever fought by humanity, the struggle between good and evil. A war of values, and it is not a metaphorical but completely real battle, as the Apostle Paul described in his letter to the Ephesians:
"Finally, brethren, strengthen yourselves in the Lord, for his sovereign power. Coat yourselves from God's armor, so that you may resist the traps of the devil. For it is not against men of flesh and blood that we must fight, but against the principalities and powers, against the princes of this dark world, against the spiritual forces of evil scattered in the air. Therefore, take the armor of God, that ye may resist in the evil days and keep you unwavering in the fulfillment of your duty." (Ef 6, 10-13)
From Genesis to Revelation, the Holy Scriptures bring accounts of struggles. The word "battle" appears 68 times and "war" 228 times. We will make no exaggeration by saying that the Holy Book is a war story, a war that began with Adam, there in the garden of Eden, when he and his wife were deceived by the serpent and fell into the sin of disobedience, whose consequences we lived up to Today. It began with Adam, permeated the entire history of the Hebrew people, culminated in the betrayal, torment, crucifixion, and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and extends to the final battle, which is present in today's world.
In the blurry of the infamous slander and lies raised recently against the Heralds, we sadly see, once again, the deception of the cunning serpent deceiving distracted people who take evil for good – or because they do not know that it is evil or relativize and, even though they know, they think evil isn't that bad…
The deception is never small and ends up spreading with its tentacles in many directions. So much so that, among the "accusations" made to the Heralds, for lack of substance attributed to Monsignor João Clá – founder of the Heralds of the Gospel – the authorship of "rumors about the end of the world", an accusation that focuses on the old and spends a key that the Heralds wash cerebral in its limbs. Using (with very little or no knowledge of cause) the French term "bagarre" – which means turmoil, confusion, chaos – detractors accuse the Mons. John to have invented this possible scenario to frighten those who are close to him. It's a pain in the ass!
You're sure Mons. John has written dozens of books (some of them published by libreria Editrice Vaticana) but he did not write any of the books of the Bible. He did not write the Gospels or even less the Apocalypse. Assigning him the authorship of the words spoken by Jesus and his apostles is synonymous with ignorance and despair, for only desperate people act without thinking, speak without knowing, accuse without having to prove it. They cheat and sell, like one day Judas did. Let us pray that they do not follow the terrible example of Judas who, condemning himself, forever lost the possibility of repenting….
We are, yes, in the middle of battle and the battlefield around us, already shows the size of the destruction caused by this struggle between darkness and light. And the soldiers, my friends, were once called Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Ruth, Esther, David, Peter, Paul, John, and so many others depicted in the Word. After them, many more came. They gave their lives for the cause of Our Lord and were assaulted, attacked, maligned, persecuted, martyred. They suffered persecution from outside and from within the Church itself, which later recognized the value of each of them.
These soldiers we call saints and it's about them that this space will deal with. However, it is good to remember that it was not only up to the Saints to wage this war and that a battle is not done only of generals. It is up to them to trace the strategy, prepare, encourage and send troops to the fronts, but a war is made with soldiers of all patents. Soldier is each of us, for we have all been called to holiness and this is an achievement of every day, hour by hour. So that we do not discourage or weaken in faith, we invite them to take a journey through the lives of persecuted saints. Known and unknown saints, whose memories must inspire us, their sufferings strengthen us and their examples drag us.
(*) Izilda Alves de Oliveira graduated in Letters from USP, graduated in Psychology from the Prof Municipal College. Franco Montoro and postgraduate in Teaching of Higher Education by SENAC /SP.