by Fr Richard Heilman | February 3, 2016 9:11 AM
Venerable Fulton Sheen once said,
“The world’s greatest need is great men, someone who will understand that there is no greater conquest than victory over oneself; someone who will realize that the real worth is achieved, not so much by activity, as by silence; someone who will seek the Kingdom of God and His justice, and put into actual practice the law that it is only by dying to the life of the body that we ever live to the life of the spirit; someone who will brave the taunts of a Good Friday to win the joy of Easter Sunday; who will, like a lightning-flash, burn away the bonds of feeble interests which tie down our energies to the world; who, with a fearless voice, like John the Baptist, will arouse our enfeebled nature out of the sleek dream of unheroic repose; who will gain victories, not by stepping down from the Cross and compromising with the world, but who will suffer in order to conquer the world. In a word, what we need are saints, for saints are the truly great men … I assume without further ado that the grace of God is the one thing necessary, and that God will give that grace to those who do His will.”
Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade in 1095 with the primary goal of the Christian re-conquest of the sacred city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. So great was the pope’s speech in Clermont, France, on that day that the crowd was inspired to cry out: “Deus Vult! Deus Vult!” (“It is the will of God! It is the will of God!”). This became the battle cry of brave and noble knights who sought to recover that holy ground.
In our vastly secularized modern world, the need has never been greater to reclaim the surrendered ground of the sacred. While it was nearly a millennium ago that Pope Urban II challenged would-be warriors to “reclaim the sacred,” in our day it was St. Pope John Paul II, in his January 6, 2000, Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte, who made his clarion call for us to put aside all fear and pursue daring apostolic goals, which are rooted deeply in prayer.
The spiritual devastation of the last half of the twentieth century compelled Pope John Paul II to draw up his master plan for the new millennium. Thus, he called for pastoral initiatives that would focus on “Training in Holiness” and “Schools of Prayer.” St. Francis of Assisi affirms this training in holiness as the fundamental starting point: “Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.”
The clarion call of St. Padre Pio puts it best,
“The field of battle between God and Satan is the human soul. This is where it takes place every moment of our lives. The soul must give free access to our Lord and be completely fortified by Him with every kind of weapon. His light must illuminate it to fight the darkness of error. He must put on Jesus Christ, His truth and justice, the shield of faith, the word of God to overcome such powerful enemies. To put on Jesus Christ we must die to ourselves.” -St. Padre Pio
We are calling upon everyone to join together in a nation-wide basic training in holiness during Lent in the grace-filled Year of Mercy. Coincidentally (God-incidence?), the span of time from Ash Wednesday (Feb. 10) to Divine Mercy Sunday (April 3) is 54 Days!!
The newly published handbook for this training is called the 54 Day Basic Training in Holiness. The daily reflections in this handbook are this basic training. Drawing from the truths found in the Holy Scriptures, the saints, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the first 27 days focus upon the qualities of excellence toward which we are all called to strive. The second 27 days contain excerpts from the Church Militant Field Manual: Special Forces Training for the Life in Christ.
St. Paul reminds us that we are not entering this battle unaided, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Cor 10:4). This is why we are employing the very powerful 54 Day Rosary Novena as we embrace this imperative challenge. “With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26). We simply must call upon the power of God if we ever hope to conquer sin and evil, and this rosary novena has revealed itself many times over as a formidable weapon for defeating these strongholds. Trainees are asked to pray one rosary a day during this Training in Holiness.
The rallying cry as we enter into this training in holiness — “Chase Perfection, Catch Excellence!” — comes from legendary coach Vince Lombardi’s quote: “Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” Of course Lombardi, a daily Mass goer, was himself inspired by the very words of Christ: “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).
As saints in training, we not only tap into the heart of living, but we are given the capacity to inspire other souls to engage this raison d’être … the very reason for existence! There is no other real answer to the horror of emboldened evil and militant secularism in our times … we simply must grow an army of saints!!
Order your training book HERE.
Order in bundles of 20 HERE.
Receive daily reflections by joining the Special Forces Training Facebook group HERE.
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